Seven Men Perish in the Famous Nottingham Shaft
Daily Gazette and Bulletin, Williamsport, Pennsylvania
February 3, 1890
Wilkes-Barre, Feb. 2. -- Yesterday's gas explosion at the Nottingham shaft, Plymouth, resulted in the killing of seven men and the injury of five others.
The names of the killed are:
and an unknown man
The names of the injured are:
About six months ago the surface over the mine caved in, which caused a suspension of operations. The depression in the roof caused the gangways to be blockaded and the air currents shut off. To repair the damage was, under the circumstances, an exceedingly hazardous undertaking. There was danger from the accumulated gas, and several gangs of timbermen who went into the mine had narrow escapes.
Only last week there were three men terribly burned while attempting to open a gangway. The fact that the work was attended with such great danger made it difficult to procure workmen, for nobody wanted to enter the mine. Furthermore, the men got it into their heads that the bosses were incompetent. Most of the latter were new men, coming here from Schuylkill County about four months ago. At that time the Lehigh and Wilkesbarre Coal Company, who operate the mine, suspended many of the old bosses and put in their places the Schuylkill County men.
Friday the superintendent of the mine found that it would be necessary to do some propping in the fifth and sixth lifts. He delegated George Dunstan, an expert fire boss, to take charge of the job. The latter secured a dozen expert men, and yesterday morning the party entered the mine. They were at work in the fifth and sixth lifts and were making considerable headway, when all at once there was a terrific explosion, which could be heard all through the mine.
Fire Boss Dunstan is the only man left who could tell anything about the accident. He says:
I was going from the sixth lift to the fifth. When I got out in the passageway between the two lifts I struck a body of gas. My light ignited and then I was thrown violently to the ground. I managed to crawl to the gangway where I was rescued.
After the explosion, it was almost impossible to get anybody to go to the rescue. The idle men who stood nearby said they would not do anything for the old bosses. Morgan W. Morgan, an ex-boss was finally persuaded to undertake the work of rescue. He said, "come boys, never mind about bosses now. Let us go to work and save our fellow men if we can."
Morgan was not long in raising a gang, who at once set about the work of rescue. This will be difficult. The Nottingham shaft, which was the greatest anthracite coal mine in the world, is nearly a total wreck. It had at one time an output of 3,000 tons a day, and netted the Lehigh and Wilkesbarre Coal Company a half million dollars profit last year.