Location: Huntington, Sebastian County, Arkansas
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters Arkansas Disasters
History and Circumstances
- Date: Mar 4, 1897
- Location: Huntington, Arkansas
- Victims: 14 casualties
- Cause: Misfire Powder Keg
Levi Barrett purchased the land that would become the city of Huntington, and almost immediately sold to the Missouri, Kansas, Texas Coal Company. The town of Huntington began as a coal mining town in 1887. Three large coal mines began operating in the area. The following year, Huntington was incorporated on February 4, 1888.
Mine No. 44 was located about a quarter of a mile north of the main part of town. The main shaft was sunk about six years before the accident, but was abandoned for about two years before it was reopened. Over a hundred men, half African Americans were employed in the mine.
About 4:30, people heard a muffled roar from the mine and began to rush toward the mine, as many had family and friends working there. Within a few minutes of the explosion, miners began to emerge from the mine. Some of them were not injured at all, but others were severely burned with blisters, and skin standing up on their hands and faces.
Superintendent Vail of the Kansas and Texas Coal Company began to direct the rescue effort and search for those who were unable to walk up the slope out of the mine. As the rescue efforts got underway, slowly more seriously injured miners were brought out of the mines. As they were recovered from the mines, people loaded the injured on wagons and transported them to their homes. At least one person died in the explosion, and 16 others were badly injured. The death toll was probably much higher, as people were simply sent home where they probably died later of their injuries. Other newspaper accounts reported the injured at thirty-five.
Results and Findings
Different theories were given for the cause of the explosion. Superintendent Vail believed carelessness caused a powder keg to explode. Miners working in the mine disagreed and said a shot caused it misfiring, which caused the powder keg to explode. They also said the mine was very dry and dusty at the time, and the furnace was not sufficient to create a draft and remove dust from the mine. There was very little gas in the mine, and everyone was of the opinion that gas build up had no part in the explosion.
- The Chanute times. (Chanute, KS), Mar. 12 1897. "Huntington Mine Explosion No. 44 Mar 12, 1897." Accessed 11 Jul 2022
- Barbour County index. (Medicine Lodge, KS), Mar. 10 1897. "Barbour County Index Mar 10, 1897." Accessed 12 Jul 2022
- The Wichita daily eagle. (Wichita, KS), Mar. 6 1897. "The Wichita Daily Eagle March 6, 1897." Accessed 12 Jul 2022
- Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 93, Number 12, 6 March 1897. "Disastrous Fire in an Arkansas Mine." Accessed 12 Mar 2022
- U.S. Mine Disasters, United States Mine Rescue Association, Mine Disasters in the United States. "Mine Disasters in the United States." Accessed 12 Jul 2022
- Department of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane, Secretary, Bureau of Mines, Van. H. Manning, Director. "Coal-Mine Fatalities in the United States 1870-1914." Accessed 12 Jul 2022
- Bulletin (United States. Bureau of Mines). no. 115, 1916. N.p.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1916. "Bulletin (United States, Bureau of Mines). No. 115, 1916." Accessed 12 Jul 2022
- The Coal and Coke Operator and Fuel Magazine. United States: Coal Publishing Company, 1915. "General Mine Information." Accessed 12 Jul 2022
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