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Coal Miners Memorial Umpire Mine & Coke Works, Brownsville, Fayette Co., PA

Coal Mines of Fayette Co., PA MAIN INDEX
Map of H.C.Frick Coke Co. Mines
Map of West Penn System Light Power Railway
Umpire Mine & Coke Works,
Fayette County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Umpire Mine, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated Aug. 20, 2010

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Umpire, Fayette Co., PA
[A coal company patch town in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.]
[Umpire is located near Brownsville, Fayette Co., PA.]
See: Umpire Mine & Coke Works, Umpire, Fayette Co., PA

Umpire Mine & Coke Works (ca.1889- ? ),
Located on the Monongahela Railroad, Umpire, near Brownsville, Fayette Co., PA
[Umpire Mine was abandoned ca.1903.]
Owners: (ca.1889-   ?   ), C. L. Snowden & Company, Brownsville, PA
              (ca.1892-   ?   ), C. L. Snowden & Company, Brownsville, PA
              (ca.1898-   ?   ), Umpire Coal Company, Brownsville, PA
              (ca.1909-   ?   ), Monongahela River Consolidated Coal & Coke Company,
              (ca.1909-   ?   ), Pates Coal Works [Leased the old Umpire Mine from Monongahela River Consolidated Coal & Coke Company.]


Brownsville, Pennsylvania
Empire Mine Explosion

September 23, 1898


Fatal Explosions of Coal Gas and Fire Damp Near Brownsville, Penna.


Six Scores In Peril –
They Escaped, Injured and Nearly Choked by the Fire Damp –
Walked Four Miles Underground to Safety –
Wild Scenes at the Mouth of the Shaft –
Loose Coal Causes Accident.

BROWNSVILLE, Penna. (Special).
Seventy men were entombed Friday in the Empire [Umpire] Mine of Snowdon, Gould & Co., one fourth of a mile below town, as the result of an explosion of gas, followed by another explosion of fire damp. Of the number entombed, all escaped or were taken out by rescuing parties, except eight, who were killed outright, and three who were more or less hurt.

The list of the dead includes John Halston, Salem Halston, Robert Davidson, John Bennett, William Pritchard, Henry Hagar, John Cartwright and James Hall. The following were injured: George Baker, John Baker, and Samuel McIntyre.

The explosion is said to have been caused by the loosening of a large block of coal which opened a pocket of gas. Immediately following the explosion of gas there was a second explosion of fire damp. There were seventy men at work in the mine at the time of the disaster.

When the mine was reached willing hands at once went to work. Everybody seemed to want to go into the mine, it was by sheer force that those in charge at the entry kept the crowd out. It was announced that there was a sufficient force of men inside to do rescue work, but a weary and painful wait of hours took place.

Just above the entrance to the mine there is an artificial plateau. From the edge of the plateau a good view of the track leading to the mine could be had. Here women stood wringing their hands in anguish and weeping. The hundreds of people realized that they stood at the entrance of living tombs.

It was several hours later that the tingle of the electric bell in the engine house announced that a train of coal cars was coming from within. The scene of the disaster is more than a mile from the entry. It took about ten minutes for the first load to reach the outside world.

When the little train of cars emerged, a shudder was visible in the crowd. First there came two cars loaded with coal. Then three cars in each of which there were two bodies. In one there were two brothers, side by side, John and Salem Halston. In the others were Robert Davidson and John Bennett, William Pritchard and John Cartwright. James Hall was in the last car.

Wagons were in waiting, and the bodies were taken to undertaking establishments. When the bodies were brought up from the mines they presented a ghastly appearance. After the first lot of bodies had been brought out the excitement and anxiety grew more intense.

It was announced that many men had come out of the mine through an abandoned entry nearly three miles distant. This allayed the fears of many, and as fast as the men were accounted for to their friends and families rejoicings and congratulations followed.
(from: "The Cranbury Press," New Jersey, Sept. 30, 1898.)

Sept. 23, 1898.
Umpire Mine, Brownsville.
Explosion of gas in the Umpire Mine.
8 Miners Killed.

(U.S. Bureau of Mines Report.)

Umpire Mine.  This mine is located near Brownsville, Fayette Co., PA.  It is a drift opening and ventilation is produced by a boiler furnace and a six-foot Murphy fan, the later being placed on the top of a shaft, which is 140 feet deep.  On the 23rd of Sept., 1898, an explosion of firedamp occurred in this mine which resulted in the death of eight persons.  The location of the explosion was on entry No. 10, and so that the reader can form an intelligent idea of the matter, it is necessary to state that two entries known as Nos. 9 and 10 are driven parallel, the lower part of the former entry having been cut off, it was necessary to take the coal from the upper part through a "Break Through" onto entry No. 10 and thence to the double parting over the track of No. 10. Opposite this break through, on No. 10, is located room 13.  On the fall of this room as well as those of rooms 12, 13, 14 and 15, firedamp was knownto exist since September 17, 1898, as on this date Fore Boss Henry Farrer reported to Mine Foreman James Broderick that he had found gas on the falls, but it seems that the latter was trusting to luck, as no effort was made on his part to remove the danger.

(From:  Report of the Department of Mines, 1909.)

Umpire Mine.  1909. New Operation by Pates Coal Works in the old Umpire Mine leased from Monongahela River Consolidated Coal & Coke Company.  The equipment is new.

Coal Miners Memorial Umpire Mine & Coke Works,
Umpire, Brownsville, Fayette Co., PA

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