Midwest Coal Mining Disaster Remembered
Coal Miners' Tribute In Shawnee Ohio
Changes in the Job Market and Industry
"Coal mining equipment operation is a declining job category in America, meaning that it is offering fewer and fewer job openings and will ultimately disappear, as did "elevator operator" in the late 1960s, and as "doorman" did in most regions.
Jobs disappear when there is no longer a need for them and technology eliminates their functions. Coal mining outside China is a good example of this decline and elimination, despite efforts at "clean coal" extraction.
Decline In American Mining
The US Department of Labor says the job category of "mining equipment operators" will have fewer and fewer openings every year through 2014.
This decline is understandable, not only because the trend is toward more sustainable energy resources and opening of more "green jobs," but also because the occupational dangers and hazards of coal mining have become apparent.
More and more mining disasters occur daily as mines such as coal mines become over-excavated and more unsafe.
We have currently lost six miners in Utah, plus three of the rescue workers on that scene. China lost 183 men in a mine that filled with water during a flood. People there are near the riot stage over this catastrophe and the families of the deceased are uncontrollable and inconsolable.
My great uncle Roy Miller survived the biggest mining disaster in Ohio, the Millfield Coal Mine Disaster in his hometown (near Athens, Ohio), which I describe below. He worked at least four decades bent over in the mines -- he was 7' tall -- and later died of Black Lung, along with lung and rib cage cancer.
Miners are subject to a number of adverse health conditions, injuries, and illnesses in their work, including carbon monoxide poisoning,decompression sickness ("the bends", like deep water diving), Black Lung, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, other respiratory conditions, crush injuries, explosions, cave-ins, floods, trolley crashes, methane gas inhalation, and some others.
if you might like to read about the day to day life of coal miners and their families, read any of Homer Hickam's books about Coalwood, West Virgina. That includes Rocket Boys -- and see that movie, too. I think that story, based on facts, shows that coal miners, engineers, and astronauts are equally important.
The Coalwood Way
Mr. Hickam has his own website and puts out a newsletter at homerhickam.com. One of Hickam's more recent books is about a woman apprentice mining engineer who earns a regular miner's hat in the Coalwood mines: Red Helmet (named after the rookies' helmets - red so that everyone else can see when they are in trouble and help).
Millfield Mine Disaster
Millfield, Ohio Coal Mine Disaster: 1930
The Millfield Coal Mine Disaster
At dusk on Wednesday November 5, 1930, thousands of people gathered on the lot of Millfield Coal Mine #6. The National Guard began establishing order and feared a riot.
Ambulances shuttled bodies back and forth to makeshift morgues.
Anyone with a horse and buggy was called to help. The Red Cross served coffee and sandwiches to the rescue workers and the roads were all jammed with traffic.
Rescue teams could only work an hour at the time, because the air was so bad after the gas explosion that killed 82 people down in the mine, including the company's top executives who were there to inspect safety equipment! At midnight no survivors had been found.
Three rescuers heard cries from within the mine after midnight and finally found 19 men alive and fighting carbon monoxide fumes. They suffered severe carbon monoxide poisoning, burns, and fractures.
A total of 82 men died - including a few company officers and four visitors. One family lost their father and four of the sons that worked in #6 beside their dad.
This disaster occurred after the mining union broke under a prolonged strike. The men who died worked non-union. This showed the public the problems that working class people were facing.
Aftermath Of the Explosion
The United Mine Workers union struggled and gained publicity, with the result that mine safety conditions across the nation began to improve after this 1930 disaster.
The Millfield case does not appear on "big lists" of famous American mine disasters, many with fewer deaths than in this Ohio case. That is a mystery, but a marker stands at the explosion sight. Owners decided never to rebuild Mine #6. Today, townspeople talk about the site being haunted, as described in Ohio Ghost Hunter Guide.
A memorial service is held at the site of the former mine every year for the families and descendants of those who died in the explosion. My great uncle just missed being at that mine in his long career as a miner in Millfield.
Today, Ohio Miners Participate In Safety Competitions
Photo of Sago Mine, W. Va. - Coal Mine Disaster in 2006
Regional Coal Mining Centers
Major Mining Disasters Occur Globally
The most recent US mine disaster to date is the one in Utah. The co-owner, Bob Murray, is from a Cleveland-based mining company, eerily linking this disastrer with Ohio and bringing up memories of the Millfield Mine Disaster.
A recent comment from Murray were words to the effect that rescue workers searching for the lost miners will dig a sixth borehole into the "evil mountain."
Reuters news agency reports that Chinese rescue workers pumped water from mine shafts where 182 miners are trapped in Xintai, in the east coast province of Shandong,China. A river dyke burst and poured water into mine shafts on Friday 8/17/07. It is China's fourth deadliest mining disaster. Others include:
April 26, 1942, up to 1,572 people were killed in a coal dust explosion at the Honkeiko coal mine in Japanese-occupied Manchuria.
February 2005. 214+ people were killed in a gas explosion at the Sunjiawan mine of the state-owned Fuxin Coal Industry Group.
November 2005. 169 workers are killed in a gas explosion at the state-owned Dongfeng coal mine.
166 miners are killed in a gas explosion after being ordered back into the state-owned Chenjiashan coal mine after the pit caught fire in November 2004.
April 1991. A gas explosion killed 147 coal miners at the Sanjiao River mine in.
Mine Disasters and Black Flowers
"BlackFlowers" - Lynn Miles
Quoted accurately; copyright of Lynne Miles
Black Flowers - Lyrics
I live beside this dark coal mine
the whistle blows everyday on time
when the rain pours down and the wind blows hard
black flowers grow in my yard
When I lost my man
down that old coal shaft
I swear I heard the devil laugh and
the angels left and they took my heart
now black flowers grow in my yard
and the undertaker is a busy man
he's got a clean blue shirt, he's got soft pink hands
got a paved driveway and a brand new car
black flowers grow in my yard
When the baby cries, I sing hush little one
but I swear that I'm gonna come undone
'cause when the rain pours down
and the wind blows hard
black flowers grow in my yard
Coal Mining Job Market
Coal Mining Jobs Have Decreased from 2009 Through 2015
- Central Freight Lines
- Southern Company
- Valero Energy
- Xpo Logistics
- Flint Hills Resources
- Vulcan Materials Company
- Carlisle Group
- Exxon Mobil
Coal Mining Jobs - About 5,000 Nationwide
Highest Demand Jobs:
- Electricians, all levels
- Maintenance Electricians
- Licensed Electricians
- Service Electricians
- Field Service Technicians
Other High Demand Positions:
- Load Movers
- Material Handlers
- Heavy Equipment Operators
- Truck Drivers, CDL
US Dept. of Labor: 54% of Mines Employ Fewer than 10 People
Mining and Extraction
- Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs In America
Glouschester, Massachusetts Fishermen's Memorial is to the people that do the deadliest job in the sea. There are 10,000 names engraved on the memorial plaque. The sailor depicted is said to be looking for good weather. What other jobs kill the most
Questions & Answers
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS