|Ernest No. 2
Located on the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railroad, Ernest, Rayne Twp., Indiana Co., PA
Owners: (ca.1903- ? ), Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company, Indiana, PA
[A subsidary of the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal & Iron Company, Indiana, PA]
(ca.1905- ? ), Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company, Indiana, PA
(ca.1920-1965), Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company, Indiana, PA
|[This report was not a part of Eileen Mountjoy's original
Ernest No. 2 Mine,
(From the U.S. Bureau of Mines Report.)
|Ernest No. 2 Mine Disaster of 1916
By Eileen Mountjoy
Formerly a Research Associate in the History Department of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA
Published with the permission of Eileen Mountjoy. This version of her paper was first published in the Indiana Gazette, later as an online version under her former married name of Eileen Mountjoy Cooper in 1991 by the Special Collections Section, Indiana University Library, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA.
Four miles north of Indiana, Pennsylvania, lies the mining town of Ernest, established in ca.1903 by the Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company, Indiana, PA, a subsidary of the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal & Iron Company, Indiana, PA. In its infancy Ernest was known locally as a "model mining village" of 156 houses, 2 churches, a school, and a community center. During the first several years of development at the site the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal & Iron Company subsidary opened four drift type mines in the upper Freeport "E" coal seam and built 274 bee-hive coke ovens which by ca.1909 had an annual production of 17,946 tons. By the close of 1906 more than one thousand men and boys worked at the coal mining operation in Ernest.
Newspaper headlines today still show that mining is a hazardous occupation. In the early 1900's it was even more hazardous. Modern attitudes toward mining safety were only slowly developing, and the inadequate mining technology of those days sometime created dangerous conditions of it's own. Moreover, the advent of huge mining operations, such as the Ernest works, increased the potential for underground accidents. With odds like those it is not surprising that Indiana County's first major mining disaster happened in Ernest. Nonetheless, by the standards of the day the Ernest mines were not regarded as particularly dangerous. In 1906 the Pennsylvania state mine inspector noted in his annual report that the mines in Ernest were in good condition and well ventilated by Capell, Robinson and Clark fans.
On February 5, 1910, the town got a view of the dangerous possibilities when explosion of dust and accumulated gas occurred near the face of No. 5 room off No. 11 entry, resulting in the deaths of eleven men. County Coroner James S. Hammers held an inquest in the weeks that followed, and the jurors determined that the dead miners had succumbed to the "afterdamp," a mixture of gases remaining in a mine after a fire or explosion of firedamp (methane). Families buried their dead; the town mourned. The miners who remained went back to their underground livelihoods, and for the next six years the mines at Ernest produced coal without a major disaster.
On the morning of February 11, 1916, miners' wives in Ernest rose early as usual, put pots of oatmeal on their stoves, and packed their husbands' dinner pails The women filled the "buckets," which resembled a double boiler with two compartments, with several thick sandwiches. Hot tea or coffee went in the bottom part. Miners habitually carried large quantities of food and drink into the mines in case of a cave-in which could imprison them for hours or even days. While women performed morning chores and sleepy children ate their breakfasts, the Ernest miners on first shift gathered their tools together in preparation for the day's work. Each man supplied his own pick and shovel, carbide for his lamp, and powder and squibs for "shooting down" the coal. Several improvements in the years preceeding 1916 had made mining somewhat easier and safer for the men working in Ernest No. 2 Mine. That year, the R & P purchased twenty-one electric cutting machines for the plant, greatly reducing the amount of work done by hand. With the increased availability of electric cap lamps, only certain portions of the mine were worked with open carbide lights. Many of the miners who entered the Ernest No. 2 mine on the morning of Friday, February 11, 1916, were not, however, wearing the safer, battery-operated cap lamps. The new electric cap lamps were cumbersome to wear and the batteries often leaked acid. Besides, the men who worked in the fifteenth right room of headings three and four felt safe working with the older carbide lights; gas had never before been discovered in this part of the mine. Ordinarily, forty-three men mined coal in this area, but due to the funeral of one of the crew, the working force was reduced that day. Another miner, Amos Craven, missed the man trip on Friday morning because his alarm clock had failed to go off. After waiting for him for a few minutes, the rest of the men climbed into the motorized man trip, and, setting their dinner pails on the floor between their feet, left the daylight behind them.
Back at home the miners' wives did breakfast dishes, sent children off to school, and began the day's cleaning and washing. As early afternoon approached, clerks in the company store set out fresh fruits and vegetables; miners sometimes stopped on their way home to pick up something extra for supper. At school, children watched the clock restlessly, awaiting the dismissal hour. In the Ernest No. 2 Mine the men mined and loaded coal, by that evening, twenty-seven of them were dead.
No one on the outside heard the sound of the explosion. "Butch" Tortella, a retired miner who still lives in Ernest, was only a small boy at the time of the tragedy, but he remembers that it was Jimmy Moody, the motorman, who brought the news to the surface. When he took his locomotive back into the mine late that afternoon to bring out the loaded mine cars, Moody discovered the body of one of the miners only about a mile from the entrance. Hurrying back to the surface, he quickly summoned help. No whistle or siren blew to alert the rest of the town, for large crowds could have made rescue work more difficult. The miners were changing shifts at the time of the explosion, making making it inpossible at first to tell how many men had been in the mine. One of the men, Ben O'Hara, was just walking out of the mine when he felt the force of the explosion on his back. While on his way to the entrance of the mine he had passed George Bunton, Jr., going to work and as soon as O'Hara realized what had happened, he started back after his friend. Before he reached Bunton, however, O'Hara encountered two other men lying on the floor of the mine. He succeeded in dragging both fallen miners to safety and went back after Bunton, but was unable to reach him. Bunton's body was brought to the surface shortly before 9:00 p.m. that evening. The exact time of the tragedy was later determined from a watch found hanging from a pocket of one of the dead men. The watch was smashed and the hands pointed to 3:20 p.m.
Rescue teams formed rapidly at the mouth of the mine as word of the explosion pread to Indiana. Crews from nearby mining towns arrived by automobile, and Thomas Lowther of Indiana took charge of the rescue attempts. Alt available doctors and nurses from the Indiana Hospital rushed to Ernest, together with Dr. C. Paul Reed of Homer City and Dr. F. F. Moore of Lucerne. Officials of the R & P and of the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway hurried to the scene in a special train from Punxsutawney, arriving in Ernest shortly before 8:00 p.m. F. M. Fritchman, general superintendent of the coal company, was early on the scene and assisted in the direction of the mine rescuers. A specially equipped mine rescue car came from Pittsburgh on the tracks of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railroad and by night fall every mining town in the district was represented by a rescue team.
Pennsylvania state troopers were summoned and prevented families and friends of the trapped miners from passing over the bridge leading to the mouth of the mine. An Indiana newspaper reported that there was "no great excitement" at the site; only the "silently weeping women, wringing their hands and giving vent to little cries of despair, and the hushed whispers of the crowd" could be heard.
By nightfall on Friday the rescue teams were organized and working their way into the mine. The first crew to report back told of barriers of tangled debris, but fortunately there was little fire due to the lack of oxygen at the scene of the explosion. Teams dug through the debris after clearing part of the main road and rebuilding the mine brattices as they advanced. The first of the bodies was brought to the surface about 4:30 a.m. on Saturday and the others at various intervals until daylight. A special train carried the dead to Indiana where morticians prepared the bodies for burial.
By Saturday evening, little more than twenty-four hours after the explosion, three Indiana undertakers had finished the embalming of the twenty-six dead miners. Reports later estimated that nearly three thousand people, some moved by the tragedy, others merely curious, viewed the bodies as they lay in three separate Indiana store buildings. "The condition of the bodies," noted the Indiana Evening Gazette, "was remarkable; of course a few, who had been more severely burned . . . presented horrible sights" On Monday afternoon funeral services were held according to the religious affiliations of the dead. A large trench was dug at St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Indiana, PA; twelve of the miners were laid there in a single grave. Two of the men were immigrants who had arrived alone in America. As they spoke little English and had few friends, their full names were never known. Later, the body of Pompia George was recovered from the mine, bringing the total number of dead to twentyseven. The long grave at St. Bernard's was reopened to receive his body.
By Monday morning, February 14, coal company officials and Pennsylvania state mine inspectors started the investigation of the Ernest explosion. James E. Roderick, chief of the Department of Mines at Harrisburg, arrived that evening to take charge personally. B. M. Clark of Punxsutawney, assistant to Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal & Iron Company President Lucius Waterman Robinson, stated publicly that at least half a dozen theories as to the cause of the explosion had been advanced. A miner named Nord, who survived the blast, stated that he was about fourteen hundred feet inside the mine when the first detonation occurred. He was knocked about twenty feet and landed against one of the mine ribs. Before Nord could get to his feet a second explosion erupted and knocked him unconscious. His proximity to the mouth of the mine prevented him from breathing the poisonous fumes caused by the blast. Nord seemed positive that two explosions took place in the fifteenth right room of headings three and four, about a mile and a quarter from the entrance.
Investigations carried out by a five-man team of Pennsylvania state mine inspectors from five districts concurred with the account given by Nord from his hospital bed. On February 15, three days after the disaster, the inspection team submitted its findings to Roderick. Their document is printed in full in the Report of the Department of Mines of Pennsylvania for the year ending 1916. It states that the inspection team entered Ernest No. 2 on Monday, February 14, and made an investigation of all rooms, butts and entries. They found loaded mine cars blown off the track, a ventilation door forced through its frame and a badly wrecked mining machine. They also found evidence of intense heat and considerable force" surrounding rooms No. 14 and No. 15 right entry, all the way to room No. 8, but not extending to any other area of the mine. After completely examining the section where the disaster happened and noting all conditions caused by the explosion, all members of the team concluded that "a body of explosive gas, which had accumulated on a fall* ... was forced down by another fall of the upper strata and was ignited by the open carbide lights of the miners working on the pillar of 14 1/2 entry." The report noted that "all persons working in the vicinity were burned and afterwards suffocated by the afterdamp." Investigators had "no criticism to offer in regard to the work of the mine superintendent, the mine foreman and his assistants who were in charge ... as no explosive gas was ever previously discovered in No. 14 1/2 or No. 15 right entry. . . in this part of No. 2 mine," The team concluded by making some recommendations to aid in the prevention of similar accidents, including the use of locked safety lamps in any pillar working within a reasonable distance of places where falls could possibly occur.
Unfortunately, the Ernest disaster was only one of many tragedies of this type. Available records show that there were 170 gas and dust explosions in Pennsylvania bituminous mines from 1878 through 1932, resulting in 1984 fatalities or an average of about 12 fatalities in each explosion. Of this total, eighty-five of the explosions are classified as being characterized by marked violence; of these eighty-five, forty explosions, or forty-seven percent of the total, were caused by open lights. In the thirteen years from 1920 to 1932, however, there were only seven explosions from this source. The widespread, if belated, use of electric cap lamps in Pennsylvania bituminous mines after 1920 undoubtedly contributed to the decrease of explosions of this type.
The problem of correctly designating mines as gaseous or nongaseous took longer to resolve. The first attempts at careful classification came in 1909, but over the next years, the records showed scores of cases in which so-called nongaseous mines experienced severe explosions. As a result, the United States Bureau of Mines in 1933 began to consider all coal mines, if not gaseous, at least potentially gaseous. Since the Coal Mines Health and Safety Act of 1969, all coal mines are classified as gaseous. With the continued increase of research directed towards the science of mine health and safety, especially in the last ten years, the mining industry can look forward to the day when major mining disasters will take their place with the Ernest explosion of 1916---in the past.
A "fall" results from a sudden dropping of rock from the roof, leaving in its place a gap or bellow which may be several feet in diameter. Any formation of gas in the area quickly rises to the roof, filling the pocket left by the fall. (In the early 1900's it was a common practice for miners to burn up small gas deposits over falls by igniting them with their carbide lights!,)
The author wishes to thank Earl K. Gardner and Edward J. Onuscheck of the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company for their helpful criticism and assistance with technical matters.
|[These extracts from the "Indiana Evening Gazette,"
were not in Eileen Mountjoy's original paper.]
From the "Indiana Evening Gazette," Indiana, PA Feb. 12, 1916
Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company Ernest Mine No. 2 Explosion
February 11, 1916
TWENTY-FIVE KNOWN DEAD IN MINE EXPLOSION
Most Harrowing Disaster in the History of Indiana County. Nineteen Bodies Recovered at 4:30 A.M. Today. Three More Are Still in the Mine.
At least 25 men, four of whom were Americans were instantly killed in most harrowing mine accident in the history of Indiana County, which occurred in Mine no. 2 of the Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company, at Ernest yesterday afternoon at 3:20 oclock.
Three others are supposed to be yet in the mine and the rescuers are working to find the bodies. Five miners were rescued alive, four of who are in the hospital and the fifth at his home in Ernest. The patients in the hospital, all of whom were badly burned about the face, hands and body and who are suffering from shock are: James McGuire, a member of the mine rescue team; W.R. Nord, Mike Carrel and Tony Wilish
THE KNOWN DEAD
The time of the tragedy has been determined from a watch found hanging from a pocket in the clothes of one of the dead men. The watch was smashed and the hands pointed to 3:20.
Thomas Lowther, of Indiana, had charge of the rescue teams, connected with the Lucerne and Graceton operations and they were assisted by Drs. C. Paul Reed, of Homer City and F.F. Moore of Lucerne Mines. All the available physicians and three nurses from the Indiana Hospital were rushed to Ernest following receipt of the word of the explosion. Officials of the Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company and the Buffalo Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway Company were rushed to the scene on a special train from Punxsutawney, arriving at Ernest shortly before 8 oclock. Superintendent F.M. Fritchman, of Indiana, was early on the scent and assisted in the direction of the mine rescuers.
The explosion occurred about one mile from the main entrance of the mine, where, as near as can be learned 24 men were working. The miners were changing shifts at the time of the accident and the officials are yet unable to give any conclusive estimate as to how many men were in the mine. A number of the men had just arrived at the entrance when the explosion occurred.
Ben OHara, one of the employees, was just reaching the mouth of the mine when he felt the force of the explosion on his back. While on his way to the entrance of the mine he had passed George Bunton, Jr., one of the dead going to work and soon as he realized what had happened, he started back. He succeeded in dragging two men to safety and had started back after Bunton, but was unable to reach him. Buntons body was brought to the surface shortly before nine oclock.
The report of the explosion could be heard about half a mile away and hundreds of men, women and children rushed to the mine. State Troopers were summoned and no one was allowed to pass over the bridge leading to the power house but those in authority. There was no great excitement, the silently weeping women wringing their hands and giving vent to little despairing cries and the hushed whispers of the crowd was all that could be observed.
The fierce of the explosion demolished brattices in the mine, causing tons of coal and earth to fall. Whether any of the missing miners are buried beneath the debris is not yet known, but it is expected that they are.
Buntons body was found nearly a mile from the mine entrance of the mine. It was burned and a bruise on the right side of the head indicated that he had been struck by flying debris hurled by the explosion. Nord, Carrell and Wilish were found in a room a short distance from the spot where the explosion is believed to have occurred. They were unconscious and were carried to the power house where first aid was given them, after which they were rushed to Indiana on a street car and from there in the ambulance to the hospital. None of the men were able to talk, but all of them were able to sit upright without assistance.
The work of rescue was slow on account of the wrecked brattices.
The rescue teams were compelled to dig through the debris after clearing part of the main load of the mine and rebuilding the mine brattices as they advanced. Work was also hindered by the fact that their airlines had to be replenished frequently.
The nurses and the doctors in the powerhouse made hundreds of sandwiches and barrels of coffee, the food being sent at frequent intervals to the rescuers. The three nurses, Misses Dill, Howard and Lee, all from the Indiana hospital all worked nobly and at 10:30 oclock when it was determined that the dead would not be reached for several hours, they were exhausted and were brought in automobiles to Indiana.
The rescuing parties were from all the various mines of the county and it is estimated that at least 200 were at work. The first of the dead were brought to the surface about 1:30 oclock and the others at various intervals until daylight. A special train was made up on the B. R. & P. railway and the dead were brought to Indiana and taken to the undertaking establishments where they are being prepared for burial. The bodies in almost every case are burned and charred, but not sufficiently to prevent identification. There was a steady stream of men and women in the three undertaking rooms today and the identifications were slowly made. Aaron Craven, one of the miners, would have been in the mine heading, where the explosion occurred, had his alarm clock gone off yesterday morning. The failure of the alarm prevented Craven from reporting to work. Another motorman left the heading just five minutes before the explosion occurred. About fifty of the men employed in the heading were not working on account of attending a funeral in Indiana.
At the time of the inauguration of the Workmens Compensation Act the first of this year the Coal Company was excused from taking insurance, they, having satisfied the Board that they had an insurance plan in active force. The sums which they will be compelled to pay the families of the dead and the loss incurring from the explosion will make the disaster one of the most expensive in the history of the state.
The explosion of yesterday occurred in the same mine in which eleven miners lost their lives under circumstances almost similar just six years ago Saturday.
Word of the disaster spread like wild fire throughout Indiana and the outgoing streetcars were crowded to their utmost capacity. The Indiana detail of the State Police were early on the scene and had little difficulty in keeping order. The crowds were massed on the hill just across the hollow from the powerhouse and the opening of the mine. With their customary [illegible] the Foreign women did not make a display of their grief, but their sad faces told the tragic story as they stood watching for the bodies of their men to be brought out of the black hole that gave livelihood and took their lives.
By nightfall the rescue crews were on the ground and fighting their way into the mine. The first crews to venture came back with tales of great barriers of tangled debris and the necessary implements were given to them and the active work of rescue started. Fortunately there was little fire. Nearly all that was started by the explosion was smothered by the lack of air. There was no general conflagration underground. While the mine officials telephoned and telegraphed for assistance and while the rescue crews among the mine employees above the ground rushed to bring out the oxygen helmets, the lung motors, bandages and oils for burns, the women came.
It was and is a terrible catastrophe and Ernest is a town of mourning today. There is hardly a home that was not touched either directly or indirectly by the fatal results of the explosion and there are the homes in Indiana, where there is similar grief.
State officials are expected here this afternoon and in conjunction with the local officials and the officials of the Coal Company a rigid investigation will be started at once. The cause cannot be determined until after the investigation.
Nord, one of the survivors of the explosion and who is a patient in the Indiana hospital, stated this morning that he was about 1,400 feet inside the mine when the first detonation occurred. He was knocked about 20 feet away, landing against the mine walls and that before he could get to his feet a second explosion occurred rendering him unconscious. He knew nothing more until the rescuers had reached him. He is positive that there were two explosions, but was not able to speculate as to what the causes might be.
The mine was completely searched by 11:30 oclock this morning and no more bodies were found. If the three missing are in the mine it is certain that they are buried under the debris. The mine is now completely cleared of gas.
LATER---2: 30 P.M.
At 12:30 today six more bodies were recovered from the mine
and taken to undertaking rooms in Indiana. It is not known whether all the
bodies of the victims have been recovered and the search still continues.
No further news was received up until 2:30 this afternoon.
|RESCUERS WORKED IN RELAYS THROUGH NIGHT,
BUT HOPE IS ABANDONED OF FINDING ANY MORE LIVING
IN PENNSYLVANIA MINE THAT EXPLOSION WRECKED.
25 BODIES WER FOUND.
WORKINGS AHEAD OF RESCUE CREWS FILLED WITH AFTER-DAMP, OVERCOMING SEVERAL
(Associated Press Telegram)
|Indiana, Pa., Feb. 12. -- Six bodies were
today at noon added to the 19 already recovered from the mine of the Jefferson
and Clearfield Coal and Iron company at Ernest, where an explosion occurred
late yesterday. This brings the total known dead to 25 and engineers from
the Pittsburgh station of the bureau of mines, conducting the search, expressed
the belief that no more bodies would be found. The men were buried under
masses of earth and coal blown down by the explosion near the face of the
entries. It was said that exploration of that part of the mine affected by
the explosion had been completed.
Rescuers worked in relays throughout the night in an effort to penetrate the workings of the Jefferson and Clearfield Coal and Iron company's mine at Ernest, where an explosion occurred yesterday. Eighteen bodies have been recovered at present but according to officials of the company six men are still entombed.
After the explosion occurred, rescue teams from neighboring mines were dispatched to the scene and work of searching the debris began.
Because of the condition of the mine however, this work progressed slowly. A number of rescuers were overcome by gas, the condition of one, JAMES McGUIRE, being so serious that it was necessary to bring him to a local hospital.
County authorities as well as state mine inspectors began an investigation of the accident today.
Soon after the arrival of the bureau of mines rescue car a
report spread that three men still were alive in the mine and efforts were
redoubled to reach the section where they were believed to be imprisoned,
but resulted in bringing to light another man who had been killed. The workings
ahead of the rescue crews were found to be filled with after-damp and all
hope of further rescue was abandoned. Inquiry into the cause of the explosion
was commened today by Coroner H. B. BUTTERBAUGH and officials of the company.
Later in the day the bodies were brought here for interment.
The Known Dead.
NORRIS ALLAN, aged 30, motorman, Indiana, Pa., leaves wife.
From the "Indiana Evening Gazette," Indiana, PA Feb. 14, 1916
Funerals of Explosion Victims Held Today
Pitiable Scenes Enacted Today As Many of The Dead Were Laid to Rest.
Official States that Majority of Deaths Were Caused By Strangulation, Efforts Made to Reach a Place of Safety.
INVESTIGATION GOES ON
Developments in the examination tending to determine the cause of the disastrous explosion in the Ernest mine last Friday afternoon, in which twenty-six miners lost their lives are going forward slowly and as yet County Coroner H. B. Buterbaugh has not received enough tangible evidence to proceed with the inquest. Dr. Buterbaugh stated this morning that it would probably be two or three days before the inquisition would be started.
A Gazette reporter was received at the Indiana office of the Coal Company this morning and given a few statements regarding the facts of the explosion.
According tot he official, all the reports that the explosion were heard outside the mine, are false. The explosion was merely local which is attested to by the fact that no one outside of the particular room where it occurred heard any noise and is again substantiated by the fact that the fans were not affected.
The officials stated the bodies of Strandquist and seven others were found huddled in one heap. It was evident that Strandquist was piloting the seven to a safe place when they were overcome by the after-damp. Nearly all the miners found were about 1,000 feet from the scene of the explosion and it is not doubted but that death was due to strangulation in practically every case.
Mine inspectors Thomas Lowther, C.H. Crocker, Thomas A. Furniss, Nicholas Evans and Mr. Ross are in charge of the investigation today. The Hon. J. E. Roderick, Chief of the Bureau of Mines at Harrisburg will arrive in Indiana this evening and will personally take charge of the investigation.
One of the dead is still reported missing but it is believed that the body will soon be recovered. The families of the dead miners are being taken care of by the company which is furnishing them with food and fuel.
The list of the dead which was given by the company officials
Saturday evening too late for publication in the Gazette. The list follows:
Funeral services for J. Uilliam Ball were held at his late home in Ernest, Sunday evening and the body was taken over the B. R. & P. Railway this morning to Frostburg, where interment was made today.
Funeral services for J. William Ball probably this should be Noris Allen] were held at the Allen home on North Fourth street this morning at 10:30 oclock and interment was made in Greenwood cemetery. At 2 oclock this afternoon funeral services were conducted over the remains of George Bunton, Jr., at the Bunton home in Ernest and the body was brought to Indiana on a special street car and taken to the Greenwood cemetery for interment.
Tomorrow afternoon at 2 oclock the funeral services for Charles Strandquist will be held and interment will be made in Greenwood cemetery. John Donnelly [Connelly] was buried in the Greenwood cemetery this afternoon, following services at his late home in Ernest.
Pitiable scenes were enacted at St. Bernards Roman Catholic
church this morning and afternoon when funeral services and mass were conducted
for the remainder of the dead, all of whom were members of either the Catholic
church at Ernest or the church here. The services were in charge of the Rev.
Emilio Farri of Ernest and the Very Rev. N. P. NcNelis, of Indiana, assisted
by several priests from the county. A large trench was made in St.
Bernards cemetery and the caskets containing the bodies of the victims
of the explosion were placed in the one grave. The surviving relatives of
the victims and the many little children made a sight that will long be
remembered in the minds of those who witnessed. Despite the sadness of the
occasion there was little excitement, the widows and children of the married
miners and the friends of the single men watching quietly the last rites
over the bodies of their beloved dead.
Ernest Mine Disaster remembered April, 2010
From Robert C. Bann, West Hills, CA as told by his family and his grandmother Julia Banaszewska.
The morning of the accident, my Grandfathers carbide lamp was not working properly and my Grandmother told him he should stay home that day. He told her he would try to borrow a lamp from someone and went to work anyway. He must have been at ground zero of the explosion and fire as the only remains that my Grandmother received was a blackened glove with a portion of his hand burned into it. She kept it in a small box and as a small boy I remember members of the family talking about "the hand" that Grandma kept in her bedroom.
Memorial, Ernest Mines
Ernest, Rayne Twp., Indiana County, Pennsylvania"
|"History of the
Ernest Mines & Coke Works
Ernest, Rayne Twp., Indiana County, Pennsylvania"
in a Mining Town,
Ernest, Rayne Twp., Indiana Co., PA
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