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Mine Disasters in
the United States


Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Company
Pocahontas Mine Explosion

Pocahontas, Virginia
October 3, 1906
No. Killed 36



See also:   Pocahontas No. 31 Mine Explosion, Dec. 27, 1957

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
(news links open in a separate window)


Rescuer Deaths

Edward Jones, the inside foreman, led the first rescue party, and when that party failed to return in a reasonable time a second rescue party under Supt. Leckie followed.  Two of the Leckie party, John Odham and Ed Brown, were overcome by gas and died.  Leckie barely escaped with his life.  Then the third party was formed and continued the work.  Meantime the first party had reached another entrance to the mine in safety, and sent word over the mountain announcing that fact.


18 Bodies Recovered
The Washington Post, District of Columbia
October 5, 1906

Pocahontas, Va., Oct. 4. -- Nineteen known dead and from thirty to forty more men entombed, and doubtless all dead, is the situation up to a late hour tonight at the West Fork mines of the Pocahontas Colleries Company, where the explosion occurred late yesterday afternoon.

The bodies of these men were recovered from the mines as the result of the heroic work of a band of thirty-five men constituting a rescue party that worked incessantly through the hours of the night and day.  It was not until 7:30 o'clock this evening that the rescuers reached a point near St. Paul entry, where the explosion occurred.  The work of rescue was very slow, as the conditions confronting the party were difficult to surmount.  Toward the middle of the evening the hope was expressed that all the bodies would be recovered by midnight.

The authorities anticipated the fearful extent of the casualties today by ordering a carload of coffins and burial supplies which are expected to reach Pocahontas early tomorrow morning.  Supt. William Leckie, of the mine, who entered as one of the rescuing party, had a narrow escape from death.  He was overcome by the fumes, and had to be carried out.

Two Rescuers Die from Gas

Edward Jones, the inside foreman, led the first rescue party, and when that party failed to return in a reasonable time a second rescue party under Supt. Leckie followed.  Two of the Leckie party, John Odham and Ed Brown, were overcome by gas and died.  Leckie barely escaped with his life.

Then the third party was formed and continued the work.  Meantime the first party had reached another entrance to the mine in safety, and sent word over the mountain announcing that fact.  All this time the work of bratticing the mine, necessary for the work of rescue, was being effectively carried on.

Some confusion was caused in the determination of the exact number of men entombed by the fact that when the explosion occurred the exchange of shifts was in progress, added to which was the fact that a number of the men escaped from the Tug Fork entrance.

The scenes around the mine were pitiful.  Relatives and friends gathered in groups at the entrances and elsewhere awaiting tidings of the victims, and gave vent to their grief as the bodies, one by one, were brought out.

Up to midnight the exact number of men who were in the mine was not known.  About a score of mules were killed.  There are no evidences of fire in the mine tonight.

Bodies Torn To Pieces

Reports are current in Pocahontas that at least eighty men are in the mines.  The rescuing party that came out at 6:15 reported that many of the eighteen bodies they found were literally torn to pieces.

Rescue work is progressing slowly, on account of fallen slate and the damaged condition of the track.  The air in the mine is exceedingly good, and the rescuing party hopes to recover all bodies tonight.  The party brought out one body but will not bring out the others until it is possible to disperse the crowd of several thousand that has gathered around the draft mouth.  A new shift has been put on tonight, and the work is going on as fast as possible.  Among those killed by the explosion were about eight telephone boys, who range in age from fourteen to fifteen years.

The force of the explosion was so great that it was felt in the mines at Coaldale and Mill Creek three miles away, and the miners refused to work in them today.  The Browning mines are also shut down.

The Known Dead:
  • S. B. Cook
  • Hall Richards
  • W. G. Kelly
  • Henry Green
  • George Radford
  • J. A. Dancey
  • John Odham, rescuer
  • John Davis
  • John Cumbbe
  • Ed Brown, rescuer
  • Paul Valsko
  • Joe Blash
  • Bertie Estony
Colored:
  • Henry Ward
  • Dick Mooman
  • Joy Palmer
  • Lightburn Woody
  • Ben Perry
  • John Green
Note: There were 36 fatalities in the mine disaster.



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