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History of the Kinlock Mines, Kinlock, Lower Burrell Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Coal Miners Memorial Kinlock Mines, Kinlock, Lower Burrell Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

History of the Valley Camp Mines, Valley Camp, New Kensington, Westmoreland Co., PA

Coal Mines of Westmoreland Co., PA Main INDEX
Township Map of Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania
Kinlock Mine Disasters,
February 20, 1928,
March 21, 1929,

Kinlock,
Lower Burrell Township,
Westmoreland County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Kinlock Mines, Lower Burrell Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated May 5, 2010
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Kinlock Mine Disaster:  February 20, 1928
On February 20, 1928 a fatal gas explosion at the Kinlock Mine killed 12 miners. The Kinlock Mine was reopened shortly after this mining disaster.

From the U. S. Bureau of Mines Report:
February 20, 1928;
Kinlock Mine, Parnassus, PA
12 Killed.

The Kinlock Mine was opened by shafts and slopes and connected to workings of the Valley Camp No. 1 Mine.  These openings were closed by double doors.  The Valley Camp No. 1 Mine in turn was connected to the Boyd Mine.  The Valley Camp Mine was located near the Allegheny River in the area below the high cliffs called Valley Camp, New Kensington, PA.

At 9:30 p.m., when 19 men were in the Kinlock Mine and 3 in the Valley Camp No. 1 Mine, an explosion originated in a room and spread over much of the Kinlock Mine and a short distance into the Valley Camp No. 1 Mine.  Two men were killed in the Kinlock Mine and 9 excaped.  Two escaped from the Valley Camp No. 1 Mine, and 1 was rescued by a gas-mask crew, furnishing him with a self-rescurer and directing him up the shaft through the air return.  Five men entered the Boyd Mine about 5 a.m., not knowing about the explosion;  2 of the men were killed by afterdamp, and 1 was overcome but was picked up by either the other 2 who were going back after encountering afterdamp.

Gas accumulated in a room because of an open door or other interruption to ventilation.  No examination was made for gas before a machine crew went in the mine, igniting the gas by nipping to move the mining machine.  Coal dust was ignited.  Rock dust placed on the haulage roads more than a year before was ineffective.  Rescue men were called, and it was found necessary to rearrange the ventilation to put the main slope in return air.  The mine was heavily damaged, and it was the morning of February 23, when the last of the bodies was removed.
(From the U. S. Bureau of Mines Report:)

Five Miners Dead, Seven are Missing After Explosion
New Kensington, PA, Feb. 21, 1928

The bodies of five explosion victims in the Kinl,ock and Boyd Mines of the Valley Camp Coal Company near here, were recoved at noon today.

Seven other miners still were missing.

Three of the bodies were recovered from the Kinlock mine where the explosion occurred at 9:30 o'clock last night and the tother two were taken from the workings of the Boyd mine several miles from the scene of the explosion.  The latter two were kiled by black damp.

Five men were known to have excaped injury when the blast rocked the Kinlock mine and five more were able to get to the surface when the gas swept into the Boyd Slopes through a connecting mine.

Smoke Cloud Hinders
New Kensington, Pa, Feb. 21, 1928

With two bodies located, five rescue squads fought their way through smoke and gas in the Kinloick No. 1 Mine of the Valley Camp Coal Company at Parnassus near here today in an effort to find nine other reported explosion victims.

The explosion occurred at (:30 o'clock last night, but it was hours before the first crew of rescuers could enter the mine because of the dense cloud of smoke which rolled off from the entrance.  They reported seeing the disfigured bodies of two miners about a mile and a half from the mine entrance.

Officers of the Valley Camp Company were unable to say whether any of the eleven men reported still in the workings would have been able to reach places of refuge in the hopes of being rescued.  The exact working location of the men could not be ascertained.

Time after time rescuers were driven from the slope entrance by smoke and gas as they tried to enter the workings.

(from the "Stevens Point Daily Journal," Stevens Point, WI, Feb. 21, 1928.)

Kinlock Mine Disaster:  March 21, 1929

On March 21, 1929 the Kinlock Mine was the site of another fatal gas explosion that killed forty-six miners.  Several of the forty-six miners killed were: John Beadling, David Behanna, Charles Edward Hanlon and Harry Hertzog.  The coal company reopened the Kinlock Mine after this mining disaster.
(From the U.S. Bureau of Mines Report:)

March 21, 1929;
Kinlock Mine, Parnassus, PA;
46 Killed.

A slope 300 feet long on a 30 degree pitch is used as a manway and intake airway and contains a supply track and a 5 foot, apron-type steel conveyor.  The mine is also cut into the old Valley Camp No. 1 Mine.  Coal was dumped in a bin at the foot of the slope and conveyed to the tipple.  The conveyor carried 65 tons, and the driving motor and controls were in the tipple.

Photo of the wreaked tipple showing the rescue crews and the destruction of the coal conveyor at the slope entry to the Kinlock Mine and the tipple, caused by the mine explosion of March 21, 1929, Kinlock, Lower Burrell Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA.
(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Mines.)
About 7:25 a.m. a signal to stop the conveyor was given from the bottom.  The operator on the tipple shut off the power.  The conveyor broke near the head sprocket and slid down the slope.  A dust cloud was raised and ignited by an electric arc from the open electric equipment near the slope bottom.

The explosion was violent, traveling up the slope where it destroyed the conveyor structure and part of the tipple by force and fire and damaged the fan duct;  traveling into the mine the explosion destroyed doors, stoppings, overcasts and all equipment through about half the mine.

There were 258 men in the mine;  45 were killed; 212 escaped through the Valley Camp No. 1 Mine openings that day and 1 on the next day;  1 was killed, and 4 were burned on the tipple.  Rescue crews and equipment arrived promptly, but work was impended by damage to the fan and slope entry.

Rescue crew entering the Kinlock Mine, Parnassus, PA, after the gas explosion of March 21, 1929.
(Courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Mines.)

After the fan was repaired a systematic exploration of the entire mine was made, using oxygen breathing apparatus and gas masks and restoring the ventilation.  This was completed and the bodies removed by the evening, March 23. One body was recovered several days later from the sump near the foot of the mine slope.  Three fires were found and extinguished, and 2 others were sealed.

Some foreman and others of the survivors displayed unusual foresight and courage in gathering the 212 men in groups from the widely scattered workings and conducting them to the Valley Camp No. 1 Mine openings.  Most of the route was through old workings and part through waist-deep icy water.

An assistant foreman asembled the 16 men from his section, and after encountering smoke they barricaded themselves in a room;  after an hour the air outside was found clear, and they escaped.  One man, working in a pillar section barricaded himself in his working place and met an exploring crew on his way out the day after.

The area around the slope bottom, in the passageway and trackless entries, was deep in fine dust.  Rock dust had been placed near the slope bottom and on the haulage roads, and a spray had been installed over the bin at the slope bottom, but had not been used for 3 months because of trouble from freezing.  The explosion was propagated in some areas by gas.  The propagation was limited by the rock dust applied, wetness of local swamps, and expasion into open workings.

Map of the explosion area, Kinlock Mine, Kinlock, Lower Burrell Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA, March 21, 1929.
(Courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Mines Report.)
By the early 1930's the mine was producing more than 100,000 tons of coal per year.  The Kinlock Mine never achived the production levels it had reached prior to the 1929 explosion and the company ceased operations at Kinlock Mine ca.1935.

Parnassus, PA Valley Camp Coal Company Mine Explosion, March 21, 1929

OVER 200 MEN ESCAPE,
85 MISSING AFTER KINLOCH MINE EXPLOSION.
HUNDRED MAKE WAY OUT THROUGH ABANDONED EXIT.
STUMBLE ALONG FOR SEVERAL MILES IN DARKNESS AFTER LIGHTS GO OUT
ASSISTANT FOREMAN AND FIRE BOSS LEAD MEN TO SAFETY
NONE INJURED SERIOUSLY
FATE OF MANY UNKNOWN.

Parnassus, March 21, 1929.

Less than five hours after an explosion wrecked the Kinloch mine of the Valley Camp Coal Company today all but 85 of the more than 300 miners in the workings at the time had been rescued.

Fighting their way through the gas-filled chambers of the mine, approximately 100 of the entombed men reached the safety of the outer air through the entrance to Valley Camp Mine No. 1.

The entrance to this mine, which connects with the Kinloch workings, is about three miles from the shaft where the full force of the explosion struck.

A short time later Edward Jobes, assistant pit boss, led more than 100 additional miners from the mouth of Valley Camp Mine No. 1.

None of the 200 miners who escaped was injured from gas or burns. All were able to walk without assistance.

Hospitals at New Kensington and nearby boroughs reported receiving approximately a dozen injured miners for treatment. None seriously hurt.

Miners who escaped reported having seen bodies of those killed in the blast but up to noon no bodies had been removed and no check could be made on the dead.

Rescue workers reported seeing bodies of miners along the slope of the mine about noon. No effort was made to bring them to the surface, rescuers said, because they want to push their way into the workings in the prospect of reaching the other missing men before they have suffocated.

There is a chance of rescuing alive the approximately 85 men still missing mine experts said. It was feared that the fire is still burning at the foot of the shaft.

Parnassus, March 21, 1929.

An abandoned entrance to the Kinloch mine was credited by 100 miners, who emerged safely from the blast-wrecked chamber of the Kinloch mine of the Valley Camp Coal Company today, with having saved their lives.

It was through this discontinued opening that the trapped men, after stumbling through several miles beneath the earth reached safety.

Edward Jobes, assistant pit boss, and James Hogan, fire boss led the men to safety.

Jobes and Hogan recounted how they aided the miners to meave the gas-filled workings in which 12 men died in an explosion a year ago.

"We kept the men where the air was good after the lights went out. We knew something had happened," Hogan said. "I was busy as the light failed and didn't hear the rumble."

"The safety lamp I carried proved its worth today. When we hit deadly gas it flickered and burned low which indicated we had better not go in that direction."

"When a trace of explosive gas was found it flared up. I watched it carefully and several times we had to change out course."

"To go to the Kinloch entrance was out of the question. It was too far away."

"So we started for the unused entrance. I don't know how many men were in our party at first but the number grew as we went along."

"Our trip was without incident. The men knew death might come at any moment and there was tenseness in the crowd but there was no confusion. Everyone remembered his safety training. Then we caught the faint gleam that signified the entrance. Had JOBES and I been alone the strain would have been far less but we knew the responsibility of caring for the men with us was on our shoulders."

"Never did the Allegheny River stretch below us and shining in the morning sun look so beautiful as when we came out of the mine."

Rescue crews of the Valley Camp Coal Company and adjoining companies were rushed to the mine.

A mine rescue car operated by the United States Bureau of Mines was brought here from Curtsville, a few miles away, where it had been held on a siding.

Houses for two miles about the mine were recked by the explosion.

Witnesses said a shaft of white-hot flame shot about 200 feet into the air from the mine shaft. It was feared that many of the miners may have been caught in the flame and burned to death.

The force of the blast is believed to have wrecked much of the temporary and permanent bracing work in the mine and cave-ins may add to the difficulties of the rescue work.

A mine official said the explosion was caused by sparks from a conveyor belt as its steel rasps led about a galley wheel at the foot of the shaft. The spark, the official said, probably found a gas pocket and the explosion followed.

A fan house 200 yards from the main tipple was blown to bits and its framework burned by the flames which belched from the shaft.

Long lines of automobiles were waiting at the mouth of the mine to take the injured to hospitals at New Kensington and other towns. All doctors and nurses were called.

Twelve miners were killed in an explosion in the same mine February 20, 1925. Since then the mine had been examined and tested by State Bureau of Mines officials and recently the officials of the company were given a perfect bill of health and operation for the workings. United States Bureau of Mines officials recently completed presentation of a five-week course in safety work at the mine. The government men pronounced 420 men employed in the workings competent to render assistance and first-aid in case of a cave-in or explosion. Many of those men competent to render such assistance are entombed.

Parnassus, March 21, 1929.

Following is a list of miners injured in the explosion today at the Kinloch mine:
John Gooding.
Eugene Van Horne.
Joseph Jublinsky.
Charles Palowsky.
W. F. Hancock.
James Arnold.
Howard Hemphill.

Greensburg, Pa., March 21, 1929.

Attaches of the Westmoreland county district attorney's office and county detectives left here at noon today for Parnassus to open an investigation of the explosion at the Kinloch mine of the Valley Camp Coal Company.

Two mine rescue teams of the Keystone Coal & Coke Company here, all available nurses from the Westmoreland County Chapter of the Red Cross and a detail of 22 state police also have been dispatched to the Kinloch mine district.

Wheeling, W. Va., March 21

Thirty expert mine rescue men have left here by automobile this morning for the Parnassus mine, 20 miles north of Pittsburg, where 300 men were reported entombed by an explosion.
(From "The Daily Courier," Connellsville, PA, Mar. 21, 1929.)

Another view outside one of the openings of the Kinlock Mine at Parnassus, PA, showing some of the wreckage and an anxious group wairing for word from rescue workers within.  A few minutes after this photo was snaped apprximately 100 of the entombed men were led to safety. More than 25 met death in the Explosion.
(Photo from the Beaver County Times "Daily Times," Beaver, PA, March 22, 1929.)
List of Victims At Kinlock Mine

Parnassus, PA, March 22, 1929

The known dead in the mine explosion at the Kinlock mine of the Valley Camp Coal Company yesterday was checked as follows:

Albert Brin, Harry Bradstreet, Ben Coleman, William Eash, Stephen Lazure, Joseph Meyers, Peter Malles, William Oliver, Charles Oliver, Ellsworth Pick, George Praskin, Jr., Barney Rodgers, John Riley, Andrew Sickow, Andrew Zine, Albert Taylor, James Dougherty, Lawrence Cole, Dan Manhrita, William Taylor, Herbert Tyson, and one unidentified man.

Miners injured in the Explosion were: John Goodine, EugeneVan Horne, Joseph Pubblinsky, Charles Talowsky, W. S. Hancock, James Arnold, Howard Hemphill.
(from the Beaver County Times "Daily Times," Beaver, PA, March 22, 1929.)

ANOTHER RESCUED,
FOUR MAY BE ALIVE IN KINLOCH MINE.
LAWRENCE ALLSHOUSE CARRIED OUT TODAY BY RESCUERS, IN A DAZE.
Bulletin.
Parnassus, March 22, 1929.

An unconfirmed report from rescue workers at 2 P.M. said that 11 more bodies had been found grouped together in a chamber of the Kinloch mine. Those in charge of the work said efforts would be made to bring the bodies to the surface as soon as possible.

Parnassus, March 22, 1929

The known dead list in the Kinloch mine explosion mounted to 25 at noon today when three more bodies were removed from the wrecked workings.

James Poole, Jesse Ando and James Davis were the three men whose bodies were removed.

Parnassus, March 22, 1929

Lawrence Allshouse, one of the missing miners in the Kinloch mine of the Valley Camp Coal Company, was rescued alive today.

Allshouse was found injured in the workings almost a mile from the pit entrance, where the explosion occurred.

At noon today the death list stood at 22, with approximately 15 miners still missing.

Allshouse had lain injured in the mine more than 26 hours.

As Allshouse was carried up the 300-foot slope of the mine on a stretcher his eyes were open but he seemed in a daze. He was taken to a nearby hospital where the extent of his injuries was not announced.

After bringing Allshouse out of the pit, the rescue team which found him hurried back into the workings, hopful of reaching three other miners who are believed to be alive in the section of the mine where Allshouse was found.

Parnassus, March 22, 1929

Officials of the Kinloch mine of the Valley Camp Coal Company announced today that in addition to 22 known dead in the explosion of the mine yesterday four men were believed still alive in the mine and 15 more were unaccounted for. Twenty-one of the dead have been taken from the mine. The other died at a hospital from burns.

The statement of Ira Thomas, deputy state mine inspector, that four men may be alive revived tired workers and buoyed the hopes of relatives who were watching the rescue work. According to Thomas the men were seen by a group of miners who escaped. The latter called to the others who were in what later was discovered to be an area free of poisonous gas, to follow but they refused. Unless the four men wandered about in the mine and stumbled into black damp atmosphere they will be found alive in an air pocket, Thomas believes.

Fresh air was being pumped to the butt from the main mine entry. The men probably have erected brattices to protect themselves from contamination of the fresh air, Thomas said.

Although grief filled parts of the small mining community for those killed in the blast, many homes were scenes of rejoicing today for the escape of more than 220 other miners when the blast ripped through the mine.

Three investigations were under way. State Assemblyman M. A. Musmuatto announced he would personally conduct an investigation, seeking to bring about more stringent mine legislation to prevent the reoccurence of such tragedies. Westmoreland county officials, in whose jurisdiction the mine lies, were conducting another investigation in which attaches of the coroner's and the sheriff's office were cooperating. The third investigation was begun by State Secretary of Mines Walter H. Glasgow of Scottdale, who went to the scene from Harrisburg to aid in rescue work.

Company officials announced that the explosion which rocked the countryside for miles probably was caused when a conveyor chain in the tipple at the mine mouth broke and dropped tons of coal and steel to the bottom of the slope. A spark which formed in the crash at the bottom of the slope probably ignited dust.

REVISED DEATH LIST IN KINLOCH BLAST.
Parnassus, March 21, 1929
The known dead in the explosion at the Kinloch mine of the Valley Coal Company yesterday was checked as follows:

Albert Brin.
Harry Bradstreet (Bradstock).
Ben Coleman.
William Eash.
Stephen Lazure.
Joseph Meyers.
Peter Malles.
William Oliver.
Charles Oliver.
Ellsworth Peck (Pick).
George Praskin, Jr.
Barney Rodgers.
John Riley.
Andrew Sickow (Sikora).
Andrew Zine.
Albert Taylor.
James Dougherty.
Lawrence Cole.
Dan Mohurita (Manbrita).
William Taylor.
Herbert Tyson.
James Poole.
Jesse Ando.
James Davis.
One Unidentified Man.

(From "The Daily Courier," Connellsville, PA, Mar. 22, 1929.)

KINLOCH MINE DEAD 46, WITH ONLY ONE MAN TO BE ACCOUNTED FOR.
TWO OF THREE REPORTED MISSING FOUND SAFE TODAY AT THEIR HOMES.
FIRE HAMPERS RESCUE WORK.

Parnassus, March 23, 1929

As firemen battled flames in the wrecked workings of the Kinloch mine of the Valley Camp Coal Company, the known dead list of the Thursday explosion reached 46.

Forty-five bodies have been removed from the workings. Another body, believed to be that of John Work, has been located at the foot of the mine shaft but rescue workers have been unable to extricate it from the debris.

Only one miner was unaccounted for at noon, company officials said.

Two of the three reported still missing early today were located at their homes.

After firemen subdued three fires which broke out in the mine during the night, frequent outbursts of flames in the smouldering coal were located and checked.

FINAL LISTING OF THE KILLED IN THE KINLOCK MINE EXPLOSION March 21, 1929

JOHN AMBROSE;
MATTHEW AMBROSE;
JESSE ANDO;
JOSEPH BARNARDI;
JOHN BEADLING;
DAVID BEHANNA;
ALVIN BOYD;
HARRY BRADSTOCK;
ALBERT BRIN;
BEN COLEMAN;
JAMES DAVIS;
GEORGE DE LOURIENCES;
JAMES DOUGHERTY;
WILLIAM EASH;
IKE ESKI;
JAMES FLYNN;
ALEXANDER GOLIEX;
CHARLES E. HANLON;
HARRY HERTZOG;
GEORGE HUNTER;
DAVE JAMISON;
JAMES JOHNSON;
J. F. JONES;
WILLIAM KASH;
STEPHEN LAZURE;
PETER MALLES;
JOSEPH MEYERS;
DAN MOHURITA (MANBRITA);
CHARLES OLIVER;
WILLIAM OLIVER;
J. F. OWENS;
ELLSWORTH PECK;
JAMES PHOLE;
JAMES POOLE;
GEORGE PRASKIN, JR.;
ARNOLD RAFFLER;
WILLIAM REYNOLDS;
JOHN RILEY;
BARNEY RODGERS;
JOHN ROXBY;
ANDREW SIKORA;
LLOYD SMITH;
ALBERT TAYLOR;
WILBUR TAYLOR;
WILLIAM TAYLOR;
HERBERT TYSON;
ROBERT TYSON;
EDWARD WILLIAMS;
JOHN WORK;
ANDREW ZINE;
TWO UNIDENTIFIED BODIES.

(From "The Daily Courier," Connellsville PA, Mar. 23, 1929.)

References:
Dodrill, Gordon
1971 20,000 Coal Company Stores: in the United States, Mexico and Canada. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne Lithographing Company.
Keystone Consolidated Publishing Company
1935 The Coal Catalog, Including Directory of Mines.  Pittsburgh, PA:  Keystone Consolidated Company.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
1911 Report of the Department of Mines of Pennsylvania:  Part II - Bituminous, 1910.  Harrisburg, PA: C.E.Aughinbaugh, State Printer.
1916 Report of the Department of Mines of Pennsylvania: Part II - Bituminous. 1915.  Harrisburg, PA: Wm. Stanley Ray, State Printer.
1920 Report of the Department of Mines of Pennsylvania: Part II - Bituminous, 1918.  Harrisburg, PA: J.L.L. Kuhn.
1927 Report of the Department of Mines: Part II - Bituminous,1923-1926. Harrisburg, PA: J.L.L. Kuhn.
1932 Report of the Department of Mines: Part II - Bituminous, 1929-1930.  Harrisburg, PA: n.p.
DeMarchi, Jane
n.d. Historical Mining Disasters. from the archives of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy's Library. Beckeley, WV:  National Mine Health and Safety Academy
Muller, Edward K. & Ronald C. Carlisle
1994 Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania:  An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites.  Historic American Building Survey/ Historic American Engineering Record, HABS/HAER. America's Industrial Heritage Project. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Washington County Department of Environmental Resources.
n.d.  Mining Records.  McMurray, PA: Washington County Department of Environmental Resources.

Return to "History of the Kinlock Mines,
Kinlock, Lower Burrell Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania"
Kinlock Mine Disasters, 1928 & 1929,
Kinlock, Lower Burrell Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania"
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