The East Sugar Loaf Colliery cave-in in Stockton, Pennsylvania claimed 10 lives on Dec. 18, 1869; only three bodies were ever recovered. The cave-in occurred at 5 a.m. when two houses were swallowed into the ground. A third home went into the subsidence and all but one person got out. It was a young girl who was later rescued from a rooftop. One outcome of the Stockton Mine cave-in was that houses were not built so close to mines after the incident.
The Sunken Coal Mine
The Latest Pennsylvania Mining Horror – A Block of Houses Sink into a Mine
Ten Persons Engulfed – Apprehension of Further Disaster
The Cause of the Disaster – Twenty Feet Between the Mine and the Surface
The New York Times, New York
December 20, 1869
Hazelton, Penn., Dec. 18. -- Another terrible mining accident occurred at 5 o'clock this morning at Stockton, near this place. A coal mine caved in, filling the shaft and tunnel with enormous masses of earth, carrying two large houses down with it, and choking the entrance to the mine.
There were several persons in the dwelling houses at the time of the accident, and these were carried down in the falling mass, buried in the ruins, and doubtless instantly killed. As yet it has been entirely impossible to reach their bodies.
Some men were in the mine, it is reported, at the time of the terrible disaster, and they are supposed to have been killed instantly. Ten persons in all lost their lives, and efforts are now making to extricate their bodies. The houses fell a distance of forty feet, and were broken to fragments.
Mauch Chunk, Penn., Dec. 18. -- One block of houses were swallowed up in the cavity so quickly that two families living in them had not time to escape. A girl who had fled from one of the houses as it went down, but not fast enough to escape falling, fell on top of the houses and was rescued.
Three families in an adjoining block had just time to get off at a safe distance when the houses fell. Ten persons were swallowed up with the houses. George Swank, his wife and four children, Mr. Retch, his wife, child and mother, were the unfortunates, and are still in the mine, and must certainly all be dead.
The Hazelton steam fire engine has been throwing a continual stream on the ruins since daylight. The firemen are doing all in their power; they have taken charge of the affair, and extended a rope round the hole and allowed no persons inside.
Trains are running from Hazleton every hour to the scene of the disaster, and will continue to do so until all the bodies are recovered, which will be some time yet, as it is still dangerous to enter on the work of rescue, as the earth still continues to fall in, and thus enlarge the cavity continually.
The excitement now is very great, and is increasing. Families in the vicinity are moving out of their houses, fearing that theirs will fall in next, and their fears are not groundless. The general opinion, indeed, is that other houses will soon fall. There is also danger of the mines taking fire.
Messrs. Linderman & Skeer, the owners of the mines, arrived at the scene of the disaster this afternoon. They are sparing no pains to secure the bodies as speedily as possible. The mines are known as the "East Sugar Loaf Mines."
Pottsville, Penn., Dec. 19. -- A dispatch to the Daily Journal from Hazleton says the cause of the accident at Hazleton was working the breast in the colliery too near the surface under the houses, there being only about twenty feet space left where they caved in.
Only a few days before a couple of persons in a truck were pitched into a similar hole, where a portion of the foundation of the railroad had given way over some workings that approached too near the surface.