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Rockwood Mine Disaster 1926

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 4 Oct 1926 [unknown]
Location: Rockwood, Roane County, Tennesseemap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters Tennessee Disasters
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Disasters | Mining Disasters | United States Mining Disasters

Contents

History and Circumstances


Mine Disaster Circumstances

Six Bodies Taken from Tennessee Mine' The Kinsgport Times, Tennessee - October 5, 1926

Rockwood, Tenn. (AP) -- Two more bodies making a total of six, were removed at 11:10 o'clock today from the Roane Iron Mining Company's mine where 28 men are believed to have perished in an explosion in Rodgers entry yesterday. Those brought out were Clarence Stevens, who had previously been identified in the mine, and his laborer, Philip Gallion. There are believed to be 22 still in the mine.

The almost superhuman struggle of one miner to escape and his failure when fresh air and safety were but a hundred feet away, was revealed as rescue crews penetrated deep into the mine.

Crawls 1,000 Feet

Apparently crawling more than 1,000 feet in an effort to reach an airhole, Stevenson fell victim to the deadly "afterdamp" a few minutes before he would have reached a safety zone, members of the rescue crew which found his body, declared.

Indications of the fire in the explosion zone impeded rescue work today. Rescue crews were forced to withdraw while "deadlocking" of the dip where the men were trapped, was undertaken to assure safety of rescuers.

Captain J. T. Thompson, local postmaster, who has taken charge of rescue operations, said "deadlocking" of the entry tended to suppress fire and make the area safe for rescuers.

Relatives Anxious

Anxious relatives -- mothers, with babies in their arms -- waited at the mouth of the entry for the rescue workers to emerge. All of them brought the same discouraging reports -- that no life could exist within a quarter or half-mile of the scene of the blast.

Living with a constant fear of such a catastrophe hanging over them, the relatives of the imprisoned men seemed resigned to the apparent fate of those entombed.

Rescue parties worked in shifts throughout the night clearing a passage to the dip where they were trapped. Their work was made difficult by cave-ins. If any falls occurred in the vicinity of the explosion area, the recovery of the bodies of the men might require days or weeks, miners say.

The explosion occurred in one of the furthermost regions of the mine, nearly three miles from the mouth of the entry and approximately 800 feet under the mountainside.

The rescuers must proceed approximately a mile and a half in a straight direction from the mouth, then turn sharply to the right for a distance of three-quarters of a mile, make another sharp turn to the right for a half-mile and then enter the shaft to the right of where the men were working.

Retards Work

This indirect course of approach still further retards the work of pumping air into the gas infested region and clearing away the passage, blocked by slight cave-ins. In virtually the same section of the mine, the 12 men who were killed in the 1925 explosion were trapped. All of the bodies were not removed until three months later and although the blast occurred in July, the mine will not re-open until November.

Ambulances wait at the mouth of the mine for the bodies to be removed. Although first aid workers are in readiness on the scene, they have little hopes of being called upon. The American Legion has converted a downtown hall into a temporary morgue to receive the bodies.

A United States Bureau of Mines car with rescue equipment and a rescue party from Birmingham arrived last night.

Peay Offers Aid

Governor Austin Peay communicated with mine officials and offered state assistance. Those in charge of rescue operations advised him that state aid was not needed at this time.

Operations in all of the Roan Iron Company's mine in this section have been suspended while the miners concentrate on the work of reaching the entombed men.

Workers in other mines also have also refused to return to their jobs pending rescue operations, it was reported today. They gather by the scores at the Roan mine volunteering assistance in the rescue work.

Tragedy Not Evident

The little town of Rockwood, huddled at the foot of a mountain, shows few signs of being the scene of a great mine disaster. Hardy and grim faced miners, to whom the dangers lurking under the surface have come to mean little, move about with their headlights as though at their daily tasks and at the mouth of the mine they sit around in groups, waiting for their turn to enter to search for bodies of their fellow townsmen.

Yesterday's explosion seems almost a re-enactment of the disaster in the same entry in July, 1925, which snuffed out the lives of 12 men. Some of the bodies of those were not recovered for three months. Fire, which raged in the entry then, blocked rescue efforts.

Fear that such a fire will delay recoveries of victims of the present catastrophe has arisen with signs of smoldering flames in the entry where the explosion occurred.

Will and Arthur Teague, who bratticed themselves when they heard the sound of the blast, were unhurt. G. E. Boles was seriously injured by the explosion and gas and Ebbie Davis was found a mile from the scene in an unconscious but not serious condition.

"I was knocked unconscious by the explosion and don't remember anything after that," Boles said. Smith could remember nothing after the blast.

The explosion occurred about 9:30 o'clock yesterday morning with 200 or more workers working in the Rogers entry.

Rockwood, whose principal industry is mining, has a population of approximately 6,000. The deceased: Willie Armour, single Frank Boles, single Dave Brummett, married, 6 children P. C. Craven, married, 2 grown children Walter Cunningham, married, 2 children Jessie Dale, married C. P. Davis, married, 1 child W. C. Elliot, single J. A. Freels, married, 4 children Phillip Galyon, married Ben F. Gibson, single A. J. Griffice, single H. M. Griffice, married, 4 children Frank Hinds, married, 3 children Lee Jolly, married, several children Van Kilby, married, 4 children Harry Lingo, married George C. McCoy, married Ira Nelson, single George Riddle, married, 6 children Will Rodgers, married, 5 children E. G. Smith, married, 1 child (son-in-law of Will Rodgers) Hector Smith, single Clarence C. Stevens, married, 10 children Sam Taylor, married, 3 children Clyde Teague, single (son of Will Teague) S. P. Whittier, married, 6 children The injured: E. G. Boles Eddie Davis Howard Howie Arthur Teague Will Teague N. D. Wilson[1]


Investigation Report


Miner Victims

27 Lives Lost in the Rockwood Coal Mine Explosion
NameStatusFamilyNotes
Willie Armour Single
Frank Boles Single
David S. Brummitt Married 6 children
P. C. Cravens Married 2 grown children
Walter Cunningham Married 2 children
Jessie Dale Married
C.P. Davis Married 1 child
W C Elliott Single
Frields, J A Married 4 childrenJ. A. Freels
Phillip Galyon Married
Ben E. Gibson Single
A.J. Griffis Single
Horace M. Griffis Married 4 children
Frank Hinds Married 3 children
Lee Jolly Married several children
Kirby, Van Married 4 children
Harry Lingo Married
George C. McCoy Married
Ira Nelson Single
George Riddle Married 6 children
Will Rodgers Married 5 children
Smith, E G Married 1 child son-in-law of Will Rodgers
Hector Smith Single
Stevens, Clarence C Married 10 children
Taylor, Sam Married 3 childrenson of Will Teague
Teague, Clyde Single
Whittier, S P Married 6 children




Miner Survivors

Miners
Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
Boles, E G
Davis, Ebbie
Howie, Howard
Teague, Arthur
Teague, Will
Wilson, N D






Sources

  1. Tennessee Mining Accidents, 1887-1930 PDF Format. https://usminedisasters.miningquiz.com/saxsewell/rockwood_1925_news_only.htm

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