Mine buggy - Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania
Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania

Digital Coal Research Library
The 20th Century Society of Western Pennsylvania
Links to:
History of the Darr Mine, Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Darr Mine Disaster Remembered, Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Darr Mine Disaster, Miracle of the Intercession of St. Nicholas, Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA, USA


Coal Miners Memorial, Darr Mine, Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Coal Miners Memorial, Banning No. 3 Mine, Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Coal Mines of Westmoreland Co., PA INDEX
Township Map of Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania
Map of R.R. Transportation System Westmoreland Co.
Darr Mine Disaster
December 19, 1907

Jacobs Creek / Van Meter,
Rostraver Township,
Westmoreland County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that were killed in the Darr Mine Disaster of 1907, Pittsburgh Coal Company, Van Meter, Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.


Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

Raymond A. Washlaski, Historian, Editor,
Ryan P. Washlaski, Technical Editor,

Updated July 25, 2009

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker for the Darr Mine Disaster Pennsylvania Historic Site Marker
Darr Mine Disaster

Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission Historic Site Marker honoring the coal miners killed in the Darr Mine Explosion, Dec. 19, 1907.  One of the worst mining disasters in the United States.  The plaque is located at the Olive Branch Cemetery, on PA Route 981 between PA Route 51 and Smithton, PA. The marker was not erected until September, 1994.
(Photo courtesy of "Focus Magazine", Tribune-Review, Greensburg, PA)

The Darr Mine

In the Newspaper accounts of the Darr Mine Disaster, the Darr Mine is indentified as being at Jacobs Creek.  The Jacobs Creek these newspaper accounts are referring to is the Pittsburg & Lake Eire Railroad Station name for the Station at Van Meter.

The Darr Mine, at Van Meter, was the site of one of the worst coal mining disasters in the United States. On December 19, 1907 a gas and dust explosion killed 239 coal miners in the dark tunnels of the Darr Mine. An inquiry into the disaster afterwards concluded, as was usually the case in that period of Pennsylvania coal mining, that the Pittsburgh Coal Company was not at fault.

The explosion was presumed to have occurred in an area that the Fire Boss had cordoned off, but a group of miners had entered anyway carrying open lamps.  This finding was not accepted by all involved:  a number of those investigating the disaster could not agree on exactly where the explosion occurred. Secondly, the company permitted the use of open lamps in the mine, a practice it abandoned after the horrible events of December 19th, 1907, at the Darr Mine.

The Darr Mine Disaster, December 19, 1907
Rescue Team at Darr Mine.
Miners that were members of one of the rescue teams prepare to enter the slope entry to the Darr Mine, Van Meter, PA,  following the mine gas explosion on Dec. 19, 1907.  The crew entered and remained inside the mine for just two hours before being relieved by another team.
(A Photo Post Card of the Darr Mine Explosion courtesy of Don Lancaster, Indiana, PA. Our earlier photo, a copy of the post card, was courtesy of Anna Toth, Bobtown, PA & the Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA)
Mine Wagons Carry out the Bodies of the Miners killed
Rescuers stand near the mine wagons, outside the Darr Mine entry, which were used to carried out the bodies of the miners killed in the Darr Mine gas explosion, Dec. 19, 1907.
(A Photo Post Card of the Darr Mine Explosion courtesy of Don Lancaster, Indiana, PA. Our earlier photo, a copy of the post card, was courtesy of Anna Toth, Bobtown, PA & the Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA)

The Temporary Morgue.
Inside the temporary morgue set up in a large tent, near the Darr Mine entry at Van Meter, following the Darr Mine Explosion of December 19, 1907.  The bodies of the miners killed, their clothes piled on the caskets, lay side by side waiting to be identified.
(A Photo Post Card  of the Darr Mine Explosion courtesy of Don Lancaster, Indiana, PA. Our earlier photo, a copy of the post card, was courtesy of Anna Toth, Bobtown, PA & the Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA)A)
Waiting for News.
A group of undertakers wait outside the temporary morgue at the Darr Mine in Van Meter for the next group of the miners bodies. The circus-type tent could hold 100 bodies. It was estimated that 239 men died that day in the Darr Mine explosion.
(A Photo Post Card of the Darr Mine Explosion, courtesy of Don Lancaster, Indiana, PA. Our earlier photo, a copy of the post card, was courtesy of Anna Toth, Bobtown, PA & the Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA)
The Lone Survivors.
The Daily Courier found this picture of Tom Williams, who was one of two survivors of the Darr Mine explosion, which occurred December 19, 1907. Williams was in this mine car near the entrance to the mine a few minutes before the blast.
(Photo courtesy of Anna Toth, Bobtown, PA & "The Daily Courier," Connellsville, PA)

Rescue workers and on-lookers at the entrance to the Darr Mine, after the explosion.

A drawing showing the layout of the Darr Mine Builldings, tipple, entrance to the mine, the P. & L. E. Railroad tracks and the Sky Ferry to Jacobs Creek.  The P. & L. E. Railroad station in the village of Van Meter was called Jacobs Creek, the drawing shows a road to Jacobs Creek [Van Meter].   [Drawing courtesy of the "Pittsburg Dispatch," Dec. 20, 1907.]

Pictures of most of the victims of the Darr Mine Diasater do not exist, or haven't been found.  Two of victims whose pictures were part of the Darr Mine drawing are Oscar Paegert and his son Arthur Paegert.
[Drawing courtesy of the "Pittsburg Dispatch," Dec. 20, 1907.]
One other victim of the Darr Mine Disater was Hugh Stangroom, show here in his baseball uniform.

TWO HUNDRED MEN ENTOMBED
IN DARR MINE AT JACOBS CREEK
AS THE RESULT OF AN EXPLOSION

(Headlines of "The Morning Review," Greensburg, PA, Friday, December 20, 1907)
Mine Experts on the Scene Say There Is No Hope That Any of Them Has Escaped ---
The Only Hope of the Rescuers Is That They May Recover the Dead Bodies of the Unfortunate Miners.
ONE HUNDRED BRAVE MEN ARE EXPLORING
THE EXTREME DEPTHS OF WRECKED MINE
Explosion Occurred Yesterday at 11:30 and the Earth for Miles Around Was Shaken As By An Earthquake -- Great Masses of Broken Timbers, Stones and Twisted Iron Were Volleyed From Mine Entrance.
Two hundred men accounted as dead in the gloomy depths of the Darr Mine of the Pittsburgh Coal Company at Jacob's Creek is the record on the recent and one of the most horrible of the chain of mine disasters of the present month.

That all of these men are dead as the result of the most disastrous explosion in the records of the mining industry in Westmoreland County is not doubted.  Of all the men who entered the mine yesterday morning, but one is known to have escaped, and a searching party of 100 brave men, the most expert miners of that region, is now exploring the wrecked mine, hoping only to find the dead bodies of the unfortunate men.

Last evening at 8 o'clock five bodies were brought out.  These are:
Bodies Recovered.
Cyrur Veach, of Jacobs Creek
Carl Murlin, of Jacobs Creek
William Campbell, pit boss, of Jacobs Creek.
TWO unidentified, the head of one having been blown off.

Among the English speaking miners employed at the Darr Mine the following, all of Jacobs Creek, are known to have been in the works and are already mourned as dead:

(More information to be added)

(Courtesy of the "Morning Review", Dec. 20, 1907, Greensburg & The Coal Mining Archives of the Connellsville Area Hisorical Society, Connellsville, PA)

From the "Daily Reporter," Thursday Evening, December 19, 1907, Washington, PA

FOUR HUNDRED MEN ENTOMBED BY EXPLOSION AT DARR MINE
Another Terrible Fatality Today in the Pittsburg District The Mine is On Fire.

United Press Dispatch. Pittsburg, Dec. 19, 1907.
In an explosion at the Darr mine at 11:30 this morning, 400 men were entombed. The mine is on fire, and it is believed all are dead. The Darr mine is operated by the Pittsburg Coal company and is located at Jacob's Creek, on the Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railroad. Of the miners entombed 100 are Americans, and the rest principally Italians. Immediately after the explosion smoke poured from the mouth of the mine, which is of the slope variety. Most of the mine is wrecked, and up to 1 o'clock no one was able to enter to search for the entombed men. The cause of the explosion is unknown.

(from the "Daily Reporter," Thursday Evening, December 19, 1907, Washington, PA.)

(From The "Daily Reporter," Friday Evening, December 20, 1907, Washington, PA)

ONLY SIX BODIES ARE RECOVERED AT DARR
Rescuers Have Not Yet Reached the Point Where the Diggers Were Employed.
United Press Dispatch. Jacob's Creek, Dec. 20.
The recovery of bodies from the ill-fated Darr mine is now in progress. It is believed that the death list will reach 200. On account of the Greek holiday yesterday, and the fact that many of the Greek Catholics were at church, the usual number of men were not at work, or the death list would have more than equaled the Monongah disaster. At 9:30 this morning there six bodies had been recovered. Among them is Mine Foreman, W.S. Campbell.

The fans have been started and the fire is now believed to be out. It will take hours to reach the bodies and to tell the extent of the disaster. Pitiful scenes are to be noticed today about the little town that lies nearby, as wives and children of the unfortunate men anxiously wait the recovery of their loved ones.

Six members of the state constabulary arrived from Greensburg this morning and have taken charge. Ten mine inspectors arrived on the scenes this morning. Many have been attracted here by morbid curiosity.

Rescuers have gone 5,000 feet into the mine, it will be necessary to go three-fourths of a mile farther before coming to where the diggers will be found.

Superintendent Black, who was in charge of the mine, recently resigned, as did David Wingrove, former fire boss, on account of the gaseous nature of the mine. It is said they notified the officials the mine was unsafe for the men to work in. There are many such reports current here.

Jacob's Creek, Pa. Dec. 20. Death to at least 200 miners and the accompanying suffering and bereavement to their families came yesterday between 11:15 and 11:30, with all that sadness and fatality characteristic of subterranean eruptions when a combination of gas and coal dust cause a terrible explosion in the Darr mines of the Pittsburg Coal company, located just across the Youghiogheny at Van Meter. There was but one explosion and it was accompanied by a flaming detonation. While the surface indications do not show that it came with great force, residents of both sides of the river say that their houses shook and the earth fairly rumbles as the gas and dust made a fruitless effort to belch itself forth through any entrance, all of which were too confined for its purpose. This was the warning to the neighborhood and it was not mistaken.

Wrought up by the death bearing calamities in other parts, wives, sisters, and sweethearts had lived in dread of a like fate, and when the explosion came it was as both a warning and a death knell. Survivors Are Brave. Last night in two little hamlets, weeping women, many with babes in their arms, tell the tale of happy homes bereft and springing hope blighted. Survivors, be it said, are bearing up bravely and most of them seem resigned to the fate of those who knew too well the risk their loved ones took, but who had fondly hoped that they might be exempted from the ___? exacted.

Arrangements were completed last night by which all the dead will be buried by the company. This was decided on after a consultation among the officials here and the Pittsburg office. The place of burial and the time of interment will, of course, be subject to the wishes of the bereaved. After bodies have been taken out and identified they will be encased in shrouds and caskets ordered by the company, tonight. Representatives of the National Casket company and the United States Casket company of Pittsburg were here and secured the order for the caskets and supplies. It was impressed on these men when the order was given that it was the intention to accord the victims of the disaster a respectable interment and the selections were made accordingly. Two hundred and fifty caskets were ordered to be shipped on request. Rescuers Promptly at Work. With all the sadness that the accident took on, in the same ratio of sobriety was the work of rescue begun. Men seemed to fairly spring from the ground, anxious to pull down the barriers between their unfortunate fellowmen and liberty, which in this case meant life.

Workmen from the other mines of the company in this section, the Wickhaven and the Banning, rushed from their places without instructions from their superiors. Fifteen minutes after the explosion occurred the debris from the entrance had been cleared away, and the first rescue party entered. As nearly as can be ascertained, through the company officials refuse to go on record at the present time, either as the cause or effect, the point of the explosion was located about two miles from the entrance.

By 7 o'clock last evening penetration had been made to the twenty-first entrance, fully 5,000 feet from the entrance to the mine. First Bodies Found. It was here that the first bodies were found. Right at this point is located the shanty in which the pit boss makes his headquarters while in the mine. As it hove in view it presented an uncanny appearance with a grave-like stillness about it. Here within the four walls of this little wooden structure were huddled five dead bodies. Four of them rested on an improvised bench and the fifth, headless, believed to be that of the mine foreman, W.S. Campbell, lay on the floor. Stout-hearted enough to dare death themselves in any form, the rescue party stood trembling at this ghastly find. This discovery was made about 7 o'clock and the rescue party returned to the entrance. When their find was reported to General Manager J.M. Armstrong he gave instructions that no bodies be brought out until the crowd, which besieged the entrance, had departed.

The rescue work was greatly helped in two ways. The brattice work in the mine, with few exceptions, was in good condition, and in addition to this the fan used to force air into the mine was not injured. The Darr mine, which is one of the oldest in the field, the first coal having been taken out 65 years ago, is located on the riverbank, with a slope entrance. On either side lie the Banning and Wickhaven mines, also operated by the Pittsburg Coal Company.

While officials of the company assert that there is absolutely no connection between these mines, several of the miners assert that this is not true, and that in several places at different points augur holes have been bored through the connection walls on both sides, and in this and through these entrances, it would be an easy matter for the gas in both the others to congregate in the Darr.

In the Port Royal mine which lies only a short distance off, and which produced the only fatal explosion in this section in the past, there is also supposed to be an entrance to the Darr. The Darr lies higher than the others and as gas naturally rises to the surface, it is asserted that it became the receiving chamber for the other three.

NEWS SUMMARY Town and County. W.S. Campbell, foreman at the Darr mine, and among the dead, a former resident of McDonald and Finleyville. Walter Shepherd, also formerly located in this county, among the dead.

(from "The Daily Reporter," Friday Evening, December 20, 1907, Washington., PA.)

Rescuers Have Not Yet Reached the Point Where the Diggers Were Employed.

United Press Dispatch

Jacob's Creek
Dec. 20, 1907

The recovery of bodies from the ill-fated Darr mine is now in progress. It is believed that the death list will reach 200. On account of the Greek holiday yesterday, and the fact that many of the Greek Catholics were at church, the usual number of men were not at work, or the death list would have more than equaled the Monongah disaster. At 9:30 this morning there, six bodies had been recovered. Among them is Mine Foreman, W.S. Campbell.

The fans have been started and the fire is now believed to be out. It will take hours to reach the bodies and to tell the extent of the disaster. Pitiful scenes are to be noticed today about the little town that lies nearby, as wives and children of the unfortunate men anxiously wait the recovery of their loved ones.

Six members of the state constabulary arrived from Greensburg this morning and have taken charge. Ten mine inspectors arrived on the scenes this morning. Many have been attracted here by morbid curiosity.

Rescuers have gone 5,000 feet into the mine, it will be necessary to go three-fourths of a mile farther before coming to where the diggers will be found.

Superintendent Black, who was in charge of the mine, recently resigned, as did David Wingrove, former fire boss, on account of the gaseous nature of the mine. It is said they notified the officials the mine was unsafe for the men to work in. There are many such reports current here.

Jacob's Creek, PA - Dec. 20.

Death to at least 200 miners and the accompanying suffering and bereavement to their families came yesterday between 11:15 and 11:30, with all that sadness and fatality characteristic of subterranean eruptions when a combination of gas and coal dust cause a terrible explosion in the Darr mines of the Pittsburg Coal company, located just across the Youghiogheny at Van Meter. There was but one explosion and it was accompanied by a flaming detonation. While the surface indications do not show that it came with great force, residents of both sides of the river say that their houses shook and the earth fairly rumbles as the gas and dust made a fruitless effort to belch itself forth through any entrance, all of which were too confined for its purpose. This was the warning to the neighborhood and it was not mistaken.

Wrought up by the death bearing calamities in other parts, wives, sisters, and sweethearts had lived in dread of a like fate, and when the explosion came it was as both a warning and a death knell.

Survivors Are Brave.

Last night in two little hamlets, weeping women, many with babes in their arms, tell the tale of happy homes bereft and springing hope blighted. Survivors, be it said, are bearing up bravely and most of them seem resigned to the fate of those who knew too well the risk their loved ones took, but who had fondly hoped that they might be exempted from the death toll exacted.

Arrangements were completed last night by which all the dead will be buried by the company. This was decided on after a consultation among the officials here and the Pittsburg office. The place of burial and the time of interment will, of course, be subject to the wishes of the bereaved. After bodies have been taken out and identified they will be encased in shrouds and caskets ordered by the company, tonight. Representatives of the National Casket company and the United States Casket company of Pittsburg were here and secured the order for the caskets and supplies. It was impressed on these men when the order was given that it was the intention to accord the victims of the disaster a respectable interment and the selections were made accordingly. Two hundred and fifty caskets were ordered to be shipped on request. Rescuers Promptly at Work. With all the sadness that the accident took on, in the same ratio of sobriety was the work of rescue begun. Men seemed to fairly spring from the ground, anxious to pull down the barriers between their unfortunate fellowmen and liberty, which in this case meant life.

Workmen from the other mines of the company in this section, the Wickhaven and the Banning, rushed from their places without instructions from their superiors. Fifteen minutes after the explosion occurred the debris from the entrance had been cleared away, and the first rescue party entered. As nearly as can be ascertained, through the company officials refuse to go on record at the present time, either as the cause or effect, the point of the explosion was located about two miles from the entrance.

By 7 o'clock last evening penetration had been made to the twenty-first entrance, fully 5,000 feet from the entrance to the mine. First Bodies Found. It was here that the first bodies were found. Right at this point is located the shanty in which the pit boss makes his headquarters while in the mine. As it hove in view it presented an uncanny appearance with a grave-like stillness about it. Here within the four walls of this little wooden structure were huddled five dead bodies. Four of them rested on an improvised bench and the fifth, headless, believed to be that of the mine foreman, W.S. Campbell, lay on the floor. Stout-hearted enough to dare death themselves in any form, the rescue party stood trembling at this ghastly find. This discovery was made about 7 o'clock and the rescue party returned to the entrance. When their find was reported to General Manager J.M. Armstrong he gave instructions that no bodies be brought out until the crowd, which besieged the entrance, had departed.

The rescue work was greatly helped in two ways. The brattice work in the mine, with few exceptions, was in good condition, and in addition to this the fan used to force air into the mine was not injured. The Darr mine, which is one of the oldest in the field, the first coal having been taken out 65 years ago, is located on the riverbank, with a slope entrance. On either side lie the Banning and Wickhaven mines, also operated by the Pittsburg Coal Company.

While officials of the company assert that there is absolutely no connection between these mines, several of the miners assert that this is not true, and that in several places at different points augur holes have been bored through the connection walls on both sides, and in this and through these entrances, it would be an easy matter for the gas in both the others to congregate in the Darr.

In the Port Royal mine which lies only a short distance off, and which produced the only fatal explosion in this section in the past, there is also supposed to be an entrance to the Darr. The Darr lies higher than the others and as gas naturally rises to the surface, it is asserted that it became the receiving chamber for the other three.

NEWS SUMMARY Town and County

W.S. Campbell, foreman at the Darr mine, and among the dead, a former resident of McDonald and Finleyville. Walter Shepherd, also formerly located in this county, among the dead.

(from "The Daily Reporter, " Saturday Evening, December 21, 1907, Washington, PA)

(The "Daily Reporter," Saturday Evening, December 21, 1907, Washington, PA)

12 BODIES HAVE BEEN RECOVERED
All Were in Main Entrance of the Darr Mine at Jacobs Creek.

OBSTACLES ENCOUNTERED

United Press Dispatch. Jacob's Creek, Dec. 21.
At 11 o'clock this morning 12 bodies had been recovered. All found so far were in the main entrance. No attempts have been made to explore the side entries or rooms, some 2,000 feet beyond, on account of gas. It is believed most of the bodies will be found in the swamp entries, about three miles back from the entrance to the mine. Great difficulties face the rescue party on account of the black damp and debris strewn along the main entry. Several gangs of workmen are boarding up the abandoned rooms of the old entries so as to force ahead and try to recover, the bodies.

The coal company has posted notices that pay day is postponed until next week, to save confusion.

The coal company has purchased a plot of ground near Smithton for a cemetery for the dead miners. Another explosion of white damp or marsh gas is expected in the "Swamp," and thus rescue work is progressing slowly. No more bodies are yet recovered. Portions of bodies are seen here and there by searching parties. The latest estimate of the number of dead places the minimum at 150, with the possibility that the aggregate will reach 200.

A canvass of the neighborhood reveals the names of 129 missing. This canvass is not complete and this number will not be accepted as the total of workmen in the mine when the disaster occurred.

Gas filtering through the walls from the abandoned working of the old Port Royal mine is believed by many to have been the cause of the explosion. Some hold that dust caused the trouble, but a majority cling to the gas theory. The old Port Royal mine is close to the "swamp;" in the Darr mine, where the explosion is believed to have occurred. Until a thorough investigation is made, the mine officials will be unable to say just what caused the explosion. This cannot be done for several days.

(from  the "Daily Reporter," Saturday Evening, December 21, 1907, Washington, PA.)

Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania
Darr Mine Explosion
December 19, 1907
Another Mine Fatality

Death to at least 200 miners and the accompanying suffering and bereavement to their families came Thursday between 11:15 and 11:30, with all that sadness and fatality characteristic of subterranean eruptions when a combination of gas and coal dust caused a terrible explosion in the Darr mines of the Pittsburg Coal Company, located at Jacobs Creek. Thirteen bodies have been recovered. Thirty more were located by rescuers, but have not yet been taken out.

There was but one explosion and it was accompanied by flaming detonation. While the surface indications do not show that it came with great force, residents of both sides of the river say that their houses shook and the earth fairly rumbled as the gas and dust made a fruitless effort to belch itself fourth through any entrance , all of which were to confined for its purposes.

Among the known dead are W. S. CAMPBELL, mine foreman, and Walter SHEPPARD, both of this place. Wm. KELVINGTON, also a former resident here was superintendent of the Jacob Creek mine, but latest report says he was out of the mine at the time of the explosion.

(from the "McDonald PA Outlook," Dec. 21, 1907, McDonald, PA.)

From the Report of the Department of Mines 1907, Nineteenth Bituminous District:
DARR MINE DISASTER

On December 19, about 11:30 A.M., an explosion occurred in the Darr Mine, operated by the Pittsburg Coal Company, located at Jacobs Creek on the Youghiogheny division of the Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railroad of the New York Central Lines, whereby 239 persons lost their lives.  I was not on duty at the time of the disaster, owing to illness.  Mr. D.R. Blower, who was temporarily appointed, was making an inspection of Baning No. 1 Mine adjacent to the Darr Mine at the time of the disaster.  About 3:00P.M., I was notified by the department of Mines at Harrisburg that they had received a telegram from Jacobs Creek informing them that an explosion had occurred in the Darr Mine, probably entombing all in the mine.

I was directed by the Department to repair at once to the scene of the disaster and as quickly as they could arrive the following Inspectors were sent to my assistance:  Alexandria McCanch, John F. Bell, F.W. Cunningham, Charles P. McGregor, Thomas D. Williams, Joseph Williams, John I. Pratt, Joseph Knapper, Roger Hampson, Ellias Phillips, David Young, Nicholas Evans, Alexander Monteith and Thomas S. Lowther.

T.K. Adams, C.B. Ross and I.G. Roby were making an inspection or investigation of the Monongh Mine operated by the Fairmont Coal Company, West Virginia, in which a similar explosion had occurred and did not arrive at the Darr mine until the 24th.

D.R. Blower was notified of the explosion and was on the ground in a short time directing the work of rescue.  The explosion was so terrific it was soon discovered that it would be impossible for any one to get out alive.  Only one miner who was inside made his escape.  The ventilating fan remained intact, but nearly all the stoppings in the mine were blown out and had to be replaced as advancement was made into the mine, which necessarily made progress very slow.

Great precautions had also to be taken as there was danger of fire being left.  The recovering of the bodies progressed without any serious trouble and on the night of the 27th the entire working portions of the mine had been explored and 220 bodies recovered.  It was then decided that all bodies had been recovered except those that might be buried under falls of roof and debris.  The inspectors then left the mine in charge of the company officials to search for the remaining bodies.

An investigation was ordered by the Honorable James E. Roderick Chief of the Department of Mine.  It began January 2 and was completed on the 6th.  It was to ascertain if possible, the cause of the disaster and was condicted by the following Inspectors:  T.K.Adams, C.B.Ross, I.G. Roby, Elias Phillips, Alexander McCanch, F.W. Cunningham, John F. Bell, Charles P. McGregor, Alexander Monteith, Thomas D. Williams, Thomas S. Lowther, David Young, Joseph Williams, Joseph Knapper, John I. Pratt, Nicholas Evans, D.R. Blower and myself.

Report of the Department of Mines 1907, Nineteenth Bituminous District, Harrisburg, PA

From the "United Mine Workers Journal," Dec. 1, 1957, This interesting bit of information on the Darr Mine Disaster was obtained.

"Main Thing was Management Neglect"

All of the mining disasters of December, 1907 had several things in common.  The main thing was management neglect and insome cases brutal criminal negligence.  Black powder was used for blasting in all of these stricken mines.  Coal dust was allowed to accumulate in spite of warnings from England that it was highly explosive.  All of the mines were gassy and seem to have been poorly ventilated.

It is quite possible that the Jacobs Creek disaster would not have taken place if the men had been allowed by Providence one more day to dig out 40 feet of coal to reach a new shaft the company had sunk in an effort to improve ventilation in the mine.

One of the victims of the explosion was a mine foreman, H.S. Campbell.  His widow reported that his main preoccupation and worry in the months preceeding the blast was with the gassy condition and poor ventilation in the Darr Mine.  He pestered the company about it and it was at his urging that the new ventilating shaft had been sunk.  Campbell's worry, which made him tell his wife he could not even think about Christmas, goaded the company into action, but it was 24 hours too late for 239 men.
(Courtesy of the "United Mine Workers Journal," Dec. 1,1957 & The Coal Mining Collections of Peter E. Starry, Jr.)

History of the Darr Mine,
Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
Darr Mine Disaster Remembered
Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
Darr Mine Disaster,
Miracle of the Intercession of St. Nicholas,
Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA, USA
Coal Miners Memorial, Darr Mine,
Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
Coal Miners Memorial, Banning No. 3 Mine,
Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
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