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Clymer No. 1, No. 2 & No. 3 Mines, near Clymer, Sample Run, Cherryhill Twp., Indiana Co., PA, USA

Coal Miners Memorial Clymer No. 1 Mine, Sample Run, Clymer, Cherryhill Twp., Indiana Co., PA

Clymer No. 1 Mine, Sample Run, Cherryhill Twp., Indiana Co., PA, USA

Coal Mines of Indiana Co., PA MAIN INDEX
Clymer No. 1 Mine Disaster
August 26, 1926,
Clymer,
Indiana Co., PA

By Eileen Mountjoy,

Sample Run,
Clymer,
Cherryhill Twp.,
Indiana County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Clymer No. 1 Mine, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated Oct. 8, 2010

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Clymer No. 1 Mine (ca.1905-  ?  ),
Located on Sample Run, one and a half miles southwest of Clymer, on the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central Railroad, near Clymer, Sample Run, Cherryhill Twp., Indiana Co., PA
Owners:  (ca.1905-  ?  ),Clearfield Bituminous Coal Company
              (ca.1913-  ?  ), Clymer Brick & Fire Clay Company, Clymer, PA
              (ca.1916-  ?  ), Clymer Brisk & Fire Clay Company, Indiana, PA
              (ca.1920-  ?  ), Hiram Swank's Sons, Inc, Johnstown, PA
              (ca.1926-  ?  ),     ?

From the U.S. Bureau of Mines Report:

August 26, 1926:
Clymer No. 1 Mine, Clymer, PA
44 Men Killed.

There were 62 men underground when the explosion occurred at 1:00 p.m.  Of these, 27 were killed by violence, 17 by afterdamp; 4 were overcome but were revived later in the hospital; and 14 escaped uninjured.  Eleven could have been saved by erection of a barricade, and most of those killed by afterdamp might have gotten out by using self-rescuers.

The fireboss did not report any gas in the mine.  The main fan on the surface was not damaged, as the explosion doors opened.  Rescue work was organized by 5 p.m., and the last bodies were removed on August 27.  The recovery work was mostly done without apparatus.  Gas masks were used for short trips.  The explosion was confined to the 1st north section, although it was violent.

Gas had accumulated in places ventilated by a blower fan when a door was left open or dust was raised by a roof fall; ignition was by electric arc from a trolley wire or electrical equipment.  Gas and dust were involved.  Ventilation was inadquate, and the mine was dry and dusty.
(Report of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, 1926.)

CLYMER MINE DISASTER,
August 26, 1926

By Eileen Mountjoy
Formerly a Research Associate in the History Department of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA

Published with the permission of the author, Eileen Mountjoy.  This version of her paper was first published in the "Indiana Evening Gazette," and later it was placed on-line under her former married name of Eileen Mountjoy Cooper in ca.1991 by the Special Collections Section, Indiana University Library, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA.

On August 26, 1926, two violent gas and coal dust explosions rocked the subterranean caverns the Clymer No. 1 mine, located at Sample Run, one and a half miles southwest of Clymer, Cherryhill Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. The first explosion occurred in the "first north." off the main tunnel, blowing the large doors of the manway and airway, located a mile and a half away, into fragments. Later, the mechanical recorder in the fan house was checked to determine the exact time of the blast: precisely 1 p.m. Five or six minutes later, a second explosion ripped through the already devastated mine. With the force of a hurricane, this blast hurled itself against the darkness, leveling the ventilation doors and tile stopping in its path. Flame and coal dust, expelled by the immense pressure, billowed out of the mine and blew like a geyser over a hundred feet into the air.

There were 57 men in the Clymer No. 1 Mine at the time of the explosion. Forty-four men, ranging in age from 17-52, were killed, nine men who were working nearer the mine opening escaped without injury. The remaining four men were saved by rescue workers. The mine was working on slack time with only a small crew in the mine; usually, between 400 and 500 men were employed at the mine.

In the 65 years intervening between then and now, the initial horror of the Clymer No. 1 mine explosion has diminished. With the exception of the survivors and the families bereaved by the tragedy, the disaster has been nearly forgotten until Louis Tate of Clymer began to feel a growing concern for the fading memories that surrounded the events of those terror-filled days that had already passed into history before he was born.

According to the first newspaper accounts of the disaster, the mine, opened by the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Company in 1905, was "known to be gaseous." For 21 years, the miners who dug the coal in Clymer No. I labored from sunup to sundown surrounded by unseen dangers. Often, they laughed and talked among themselves, enjoying jokes and sharing food, and, as members of UMWA Local 1489, indulged in a little "gob-pile oration," while they waited for mine cars, expressing their concerns about wages and working conditions. At the day's end, they wiped their sweat-and-coal streaked foreheads, shouldered their picks and shovels, and trudged wearily back along the length of tracks and tunnels that separated them from the outside world.

But on the afternoon of August 26, 1926, most of them never made it. Mrs. Mart Whistle, whose house was located near the main portal, sounded the first alarm. Alerted by the thunder-like rumble, she ran to the window. Seeing the smoke and fire pouring from the mouth of the mine, she notified company officials. Throughout the remainder of the afternoon, rescue teams from several area mines, accompanied by Father F.S. Kondria of St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church, cleared away the twisted mine track, tons of fallen rock, and shattered doors that blocked their path to the dead and dying miners. Several times lethal gases drove them back, so that each shift could work a short time before returning to the surface for fresh air.

By 2 p.m., four men, still living, were brought out of the mine in coal cars, given artificial respiration, and transferred to the Dixonville Hospital. One of these, Mike Puro, lived to tell the story. His brother, Edward, who lives in Ohio, writes: "My father, John Puro, was killed in the mine explosion at Sample Run. Brother Mike was with dad at the explosion. "Mike is now 81 years old. Mike tried to drag my father out. But my father said, 'Go ahead, son, leave me behind or we'll both die.' It was the toughest decision of his life. But he left him behind, or Mike wouldn't be here if he made the other choice. "My mother was widowed with 13 children. George wasn't even born yet. Myself, I was only 13 months old. It was a real struggle for my family. We have never forgotten that day."

The daughter of another survivor, Irene Reshonsky, who lives in Commodore, PA, also remembers the impact of those fateful hours: "A newspaper account that came out the next day," she recalls, "mentioned that 'some foreigner, whose name could not be ascertained, emerged from the 'Whistle' manway, and walked away, unassisted, from the scene." Miss Reshonsky believes that the "foreigner" was her father, Andrew Reshonsky. "He had only been in Clymer about eight weeks when the explosion occurred," she notes. "He came to America from Hungary in 1898, settled first in New Jersey, and then became a miner, working in Windber, Coalport. and MacDonald. For years, he wouldn't talk about the explosion, but in later life when people would question him about it, he'd say, 'Yes, I was in that,' and he would tell how he went into the main heading and he heard the first explosion. He ran into a manway, and his buddy, 'Blazey' Bucca, ran in after him. They heard another explosion go off shortly after the first. They stayed in the manway; there was an awful lot of smoke, and gas fumes, too. My dad had his dinner bucket with him, and the bottom was filled with cold tea. So he took off his kerchief, and soaked it in the tea, and covered his mouth with it. Blazey kept insisting he wanted to leave the manway; he kept saying, "I'm going!" and finally, he did. But my dad said, "I'm staying here."

"Blazey dashed off into the thick of the smoke, but he only made it a few feet when he began calling for help. He collapsed, and my dad went after him, grabbed him by his feet, and dragged him back into the shelter. At the same time, Dad found another man wandering around in the smoke, too. By the time he and Blazey got him to the manway, the man had stopped breathing. Dad and Blazey put their tea-soaked kerchiefs over his mouth, and he started breathing again. "Then my dad decided the three of them had better try to get out of the mine, so they began crawling on their hands and knee trying to stay low enough to escape the gas. As they inched along, my dad said they had to crawl over dead bodies. He even said there were arms and legs in some places. He remembered to the rest of his life that some of the men were still alive, and they were screaming. "They kept crawling, and finally they got out ---- a mile and a half. Outside the men wanted them all to go to the Dixonville Hospital, but my dad just kept going. He said, 'I have a big family, and my wife is going to be worried.' You see, he was worried about us."

Miss Reshonsky can still envision the exact moment when the agony of suspense was lifted: "I can just about see him coming down the road, on the Sample Run Hill. When she heard the explosion, my mother told the six of us kids not to go on to the road because of all the cars and ambulances flying up and down. But she started running up the hill, crying. Already, Dad was coming. So they met, and hugged each other, and they came home. Three months later, Dad took us to Commodore and we started over. He worked as a miner until he was 73 years old."

Unlike Mike Puro and Andrew Reshonsky, 44 other miners did not live to describe their experiences that day. By late that afternoon, "rows of white-shrouded figures" lay in an improvised morgue in a Clearfield Bituminous Coal Corporation machine shop. Most of the bodies were "badly mutilated," Making identification difficult. By nightfall, however, all were claimed by grieving relatives. In some homes, two or even three caskets came to rest on sawhorses and planks hastily set up in the front rooms of the soot-stained houses of Sample Run. On Monday, Aug. 31, 1926, men who perished in Indiana County's worst mine disaster were buried in three separate cemeteries. On a bright, hot summer morning long ago, 44 men, joined as brothers, entered the Sample Run Mine. Together in life, they were separated by death.

On Aug. 25, 1991, at 2 p.m., they will be united once again, as their names, cast in bronze, are now affixed to a monument, fittingly made of the rough gray rock found in the fields surrounding the town Clymer. Louis Tate and Edward Puro, unveiled the simple marker, placed on the lawn of the Clymer Borough building. Assembled with them that day, will be relatives, friends, and all those who wish to take a moment from their busy lives to remember men who sacrificed their very existence: "Working the coal mines feed a family they loved, Now they rest with their Gods, in the heavens above."

(Article courtesy of Eileen Mountjoy.)

from "The Indiana Evening Gazette," Indiana, PA Aug. 27, 1926

Clymer, PA "Sample Run" Mine Disastrous Explosion

FORTY-ONE DEAD REMOVED FROM "SAMPLE RUN" MINE

CHECK-UP SHOWS THREE MORE MISSING, SEVEN UNIDENTIFIED AFTER AN EXPLOSION THAT OCCURRED YESTERDAY AT ONE P.M. CAUSE UNKNOWN. TWO AND ONE-HALF MILES UNDER GROUND

58 TO 60 MEN WERE TRAPPED WHEN THE GAS LET GO IN THE WORKINGS IN THE SAMPLE RUN MINE, NEAR CLYMER

DISASTER DRAWS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.  PATHETIC SCENES AT PITT MOUTH.

BULLETIN, 2:00 P.M.

With the recovery of nine additional bodies this afternoon the know death toll of the disaster explosion at Sample Run reached forty-one. Leaders of the mine rescue crews believe four more bodies are pinioned under fallen rock and timber in the section most seriously affected by the blast. They hoped to reach those bodies before night. As the work of rescue crews became more complete the belief prevailed among both mine officials and rescue experts that the final death tolls will stand at forty-five. Trapped in the Sample Run mine near Clymer two and one half miles from the pit mouth from 41 to 48 miners were killed by a terrific explosion which occurred yesterday afternoon at 1 o'clock. Thirty-two bodies have been taken from the mine by noon today. The estimate of bodies remaining in the mine runs from 10 to 16. Of a total number of 56 men, including day men and miners, at the time of the blast, 9 men are known to have escaped practically uninjured. Four men were brought out alive and after being given first aid were rushed to the Dixonville Hospital where they are reported recovering.

The explosion occurred in the "first north" off the main heading, the "first north" being located under the Salsgiver farm between the Ray school house and Rayne church. The explosion which came in two blasts was terrific, blowing the large doors at the manway and fanway, located a mile and a half from the seat of the explosion, a mechanical recorder in the fan house registered the time of the explosion at exactly 1 o'clock. The second explosion between 5 and 6 minutes afterwards. The concussion opening the doors, blew fire and soot a hundred feet or more into the air, which was noticed by Mrs. Mart Whistle, who it is understood notified the company of the explosion.

The mine has been working only part time, and normally employs four to five hundred men. On examination of the bodies recovered most of them died from being blown by the terrific force of the blast, which was followed by the after damp.

A few minutes after 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, four men were brought to the surface, A. L. Beechy, a fire boss and brother of James Beechy of Indiana, Roscoe Rappish, Mike Puro and Robert Ricard. These men were given artificial respiration and after half an hour recovered sufficiently to be removed to the Dixonville hospital. They are reported as doing fine. Several minutes after four other men were found and brought out. They were still warm and first aid was given. After two hours' work and all means known to medical science had been exhausted, they were pronounced dead.

By two o'clock the relatives and friends had gathered near the pit mouth, causing heart-rending scenes as the injured and dead were being removed. Some looking for fathers, others for brothers and husbands; hoping against hope that each trip made out by the rescue crews would bring their loved ones back alive. As 14 hours passed, rescue teams from all parts of Indiana and nearby counties appeared on the scene with their rescue apparatus, taking their turns descending the mine and clearing away the debris, from the main headings leading to the entombed miners. As the afternoon passed without more bodies being located, hope was abandoned for all that were left in the mine. In the early part of the night the rescue crews were able to reach the bodies and they were brought to the surface as fast as found.

No undertaking establishment in Clymer or Indiana was large enough to accommodate the large number of dead so the coal company converted its machine shop, about two and a half miles from the mine, into an emergency morgue. The bodies were hauled to the surface in electric cars and were wrapped in burlap before they wre transferred to ambulances. A long line of ambulances, sent here from a dozen nearby towns, waited throughout the night and today at the mouth of the mine to carry the victims to the Clymer morgue. At the morgue, a score of nurses and physicians from Indiana and Johnstown prepared the bodies for burial. There were so many victims that the medical staff was forced to obtain a truckload of new doors and carpenter's horses on which to lay the dead, pending funeral arrangements and identification.

The poisonous gases and "black damp" were so dense that each shift could work only a short time before returning to the surface for air. Several times rescue workers, intent upon remaining in the mine until they had gained appreciable ground in their slow march toward the tomb of their fellow workers, collapsed. Four rescue workers were so completely fatigued that after reviving them at the mine mouth, it was necessary to rush them to hospitals for further treatment.

Hundreds of automobiles were parked as near the mine as possible and thousands of people crowded the hills to watch the progress being made as the removal of bodies continued. Richard Minto, in charge of the pumps and fan, located on the Whistle property, over a mile from the pit mouth and a mile and a half from the center of the explosion, had just finished inspecting the pumps, located in the mine and was climbing the main slope to the fan house when the first explosion occurred. The explosion was so strong that it lifted Minto completely off his feet and threw him against the cement at the side of the shaft. Fortunately, instinct caused him to throw his arms forward, breaking the force of his contact with the wall. Minto was not injured and he proceeded to the fan house, where he was on duty at 8 o'clock last night, pushing all the fresh air into the mine it was possible for the fan to produce. Minto had a son in the mine, who escaped alive.

The following is a list of the men known to have been in the mine at the time the explosion took place:
MIKE TROCHSON, brother of ALEX.
ALEX TROCHSON.
JAMES RUMGAY.
VALSY BUCHA.
MIKE GOOD -- alive.
JOHN GELTAKL.
ED ALLSOP -- alive.
JOHN PENCHANS.
FRED J. BASS -- alive.
TOM MINTO -- alive.
ALEX GOOD -- alive.
MIKE KOCHIS -- alive.
RICHARD MINTO -- alive.
PAUL CAYEK.
CHARLES DECKER.
ANDY MARCO.
MIKE SEMAN -- alive.
RAYMOND JOHNS -- alive.
JAMES KINGSTON -- alive.
GEORGE KINGSTON.
GEORGE POLOSKEY, father.
MIKE POLOSKEY, son.
ADOLPH TIPCHUK.
MIKE KOLLAR.
JOHN LAZARK.
STEVE PURO.
PETE HANKERSON.
MIKE KUCYK.
MIKE SAM.
STEVE BEBLYK.
CHARLES KASAN.
GEORGE LASH.
MIKE MANCHINK.
ANDY GALL.
JOE TOTH, SR.
ROBERT HAMER.
NASHO ROBERTS.
FRANK ROOKA.
MATT DUBRANICK.
GEORGE MURALEK.
TONEY YASKO, SR.
JAMES CHAPMAN -- alive.
WALLACE AICORDS -- alive.
ANDY SOSPOY.
JOHN KUCYK.
WM. McTAVISH.
JAY HETRICK.
UMBERTO SUMMERVILLE.
THOMAS GALLO.
MERVIN CHEVRICK -- alive.
AL L. BEECHEY -- alive.
JACOB FRANTZ -- alive.
MIKE PURE -- alive.
HOWARD SHORBURN.
OSCAR NELSON.
(from "The Indiana Evening Gazette," Indiana, PA, Aug. 27, 1926.)
(Newspaper article courtesy of Stu Beitler.)
Coal Miners Memorial Clymer No. 1 Mine,
Sample Run, Clymer, Cherryhill Twp., Indiana Co., PA

Clymer No. 1, No. 2 & No. 3 Mines
near Clymer, Sample Run, Cherryhill Twp., Indiana Co., PA, USA

Clymer No. 1 Mine,
Sample Run, Cherryhill Twp., Indiana Co., PA, USA

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