IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY- NOVEMBER 20, 1968- 78 COAL MINERS KILLED IN EXPLOSION IN MANNINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA

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It was fifty years ago today- November 20, 1968- another terrible  coal mining disaster in the state of West Virginia. Seventy- eight coal miners were killed in an explosion and then from carbon monoxide poisoning in Mannington, West Virginia at the Consolidation Coal Company Number 9 mine.  The blast happened early in the morning at 5:40am with 99 men inside- 21 were able to get to safety. There were attempts to rescue the 78 trapped miners who were still inside but the efforts were hindered by explosions and fires. Ten days later on November 30th all efforts were stopped and the Number 9 mine was sealed- entombing the bodies of the miners inside.

The disaster did have positive results later- it inspired the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 which included federal legislation to compensate coal miners for ‘black lung’ disease.

I grew up in West Virginia and lived a couple hours from Mannington. I remember this tragic event well- there was a member of the church who had a son who worked at the mine in Mannington, luckily he wasn’t working at the time.

Mannington, West Virginia is located in Marion County, West Virginia- the county which saw the worst coal mining in United States history- in 1907 at the Monongah mine [ the great Alabama football coach Nick Saban is from the small town of Monongah } where the total of 362 is given as the number who died- but it is believed there could have been 500- 600 in the mine who were killed. They really don’t know for sure how many died in Monongah- due to many of the miners were immigrants who didn’t speak English- and at the time it wasn’t unusual for young boys to go into the mines with their fathers to help them- and they weren’t officially counted as workers.

 

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10 responses to “IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY- NOVEMBER 20, 1968- 78 COAL MINERS KILLED IN EXPLOSION IN MANNINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA

  1. Incredibly tragic, both incidents you mention. This past summer, we visited the Lakawanna coal mine near Scranton PA – its still open but not operating – just open to public for tours. There was a movie in the visitors center about another mining disaster I believe in the 60s where they were digging too close to the Susqueahanna River and broke through – immediately flooding the mine and killing I believe hundreds. Take home message for me after the tour is that it was a very dangerous unhealthy occupation and I am very thankful that I was not born in that area in the 1800s

    • Not that it isn’t still a dangerous job- but thinking back in the day- when every time you went into those mines you never knew if you were going to come out. I have seen miners interviewed over the years and there is something about it that they loved though- they didn’t want their kids doing it but there was an attraction to it for the ones who went in.

    • Yes agree – just really infuriating that the owners who controlled these guys lives were more motivated by profits alot of times than they were by safety. Nothing unique, but these guys deserved better alot of the time.

  2. Have you seen the tv show, “Justified”? It’s set in Kentucky. Mining isn’t the focus of the show, but it’s a mining area and it crops up in the plot every now and then. A couple of episodes involve the way the mining company reps finagle people out of property that has been in their families for a long time.

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