united states mine rescue association Mine Disasters in the United States
Delaware and Hudson Company Plymouth No. 2 Mine Explosion
October 21, 1885
No. Killed – 6
Terrible Destruction Wrought by an Explosion of Gas
Chester Times, Pennsylvania
October 22, 1885
Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Oct. 22. -- A few minutes before 8 a.m. two successive explosions of gas in No. 2 mine of the Delaware and Hudson Company at Plymouth Junction, startled the people living in the vicinity, as well as those who were at work around the mine buildings. Flames instantly shot up in the air twenty feet above the fan house. There was a loud report, and then for a time all was still.
The mine in which the accident occurred is about a mile north of Plymouth borough and three miles from this city. It has been idle since January, but the company had resolved to reopen it, and carpenters and laborers were in the main gangway making the necessary repairs preparatory to the resumption of mining operations next week.
There were three gangs of men at work, one in each of the three seams. Just before 8 o'clock, a Polander named Zolinsky went into an unused chamber about 300 yards from the foot of the shaft, carrying, fastened to his hat, a naked lamp. Instantly there was a loud explosion and many of the men in the mine were knocked down, but no one was burned or seriously injured. They soon recovered from the shock and resumed their work.
Five minutes later a second explosion occurred, which was much more serious in its results. It not only knocked down those in the middle gangway but those in the veins above and below. Superintendent R. Meyers was in the lower gangway, and was knocked down by the shock. Those in the middle gangway, however, were the only ones seriously affected. Sixteen men were prostrated, one of them being killed outright and eight others certainly fatally injured, while it is probable that only two or three out of all the wounded will recover.
When the news of the accident spread throughout the valley the excitement became intense, and hundreds of persons who had relatives and friends working in the mines flocked to the breaker. The women and children of the men who were in the pit sent up a wail that was most pitiful.
As soon as possible a rescuing party was organized and the injured men were brought out of the mine, all terribly burned but, with one exception, still living. As they were brought to the surface there was an impressive, ominous silence, until the condition of the injured men became known, and then the weeping and wailing was renewed.
The first man brought out by the relief party was Thomas Howard. He was cut in the back and terribly burned about the head and face. The others were brought up in the following order: Joseph Thomas; David Grimes; John Woods; Frank Spinnett; Edward T. Jones; John Lavinsky; Thomas Collins; Anthony Spinneta; John Zalinsky; Thomas McDermott; Frank Sanfraux; John Kerst; Sandy Lova; John Cobley. All these were found lying near the foot of the shaft in the main gangway. None of them was able to stand up, and one or two were unconscious. Dennis Titus was found dead 200 feet away. His body was the last brought out.
Joseph Thomas died three hours after being brought out. At 8 o'clock p.m., Thomas Collins died. He was a much esteemed man, and was somewhat prominent in local politics. It is certain that seven or eight of the other wounded men will die.