‎Mannington Mine Disaster‎

History In Music- ‘Mannington Mine Disaster”- Hazel Dickens. “Mannington Mine Disaster” was written and performed by Hazel Dickens in 1969.  At 5:30 AM on November 20, 1968 the Consol #9 mine north of Farmington and Mannington, West Virginia exploded with 99 miners inside. The explosion was so big it could be felt in Fairmont 12 miles away.  21 of the 99 miners were able to escape the mine and live- but 78 miners remained trapped and in the end all 78 died- the bodies of 19 of those 78 were never recovered. The cause of the explosion was never determined. This coal mining disaster would be a catalyst for major changes in the safety law for mining in the U.S. West Virginia has been over the years the scene of a number of terrible mine disasters- the worst ever was not far from Farmington/ Mannington at the Monongah [ home town of Alabama’s football coach Nick Saban} were 358 miners- and most likely a lot more died in 1907. Most recently in 2010 the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster which cost twenty-nine lives.

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Hazel Dickens was born in downstate West Virginia in coal country- her family members were coal miners. In her 20’s she moved to the Baltimore area and became very active in the folk- bluegrass music scene in the Baltimore -Washington, D.C. area.  She appeared in the documentary Harlan County USA in  1970- four of her songs including Mannington Mine Disaster are on that outstanding soundtrack. She died in 2011 at the age of 85.



  1. So many thoughts go through my mind as I listened to the song after reading what you wrote about mining disasters. The last few lines, where she sings, “you killed my husband, now you want my son” it hit me of how much mining is like war. It’s a war against nature, against the holiness of the mountains, and conscripting men and boys to help them, not caring how many get killed as long as the overlords get their riches. That show, Justified, I was telling you about, does a good job of weaving evils of mining into its story lines.

    • I need to check Justified out… by the way I don’t know all the details but he mentioned in December that in 2020 a play he and others are working on will be out- he’s contributed songs– about I believe it was the Upper Big Branch mining disaster.. I taught West Virginia history- and the state’s history is just filled with these tragedies- and the sad thing is- the state has had a lot of people get rich from coal mining- mainly out of state millionaires- the people who did the work of getting the coal out- not at all. West Virginia should be a very well of state not near the bottom in every ranking.

    • Humans raping the planet and exploiting other humans seems to be a continuing motif for our species. When will it all end? The lumber barons in MI did the same with the trees. Pretty much clear cut all of the ancient trees. The wood built Chicago and earned Grand Rapids, MI the title of furniture capital of the world (something like that.) Our people in MI are not very well off either 😦

    • That happened in WV also with the trees- but luckily over the past 100 years there has been regrowth. They came in over 100 years ago- took the forests and ancient trees -cashed in and went back to where they were from. West Virginia is now once again beautiful- in the mountains.

    • Yep Logan County in the heart of WV Coal Country.. and good point not only the mine disasters but the miners and black lung.. a dangerous job.

    • He was an interesting, bats*** crazy dude. He lost his job as a deputy because he arrested the Sheriff’s nephew for drugs. He did his job but, all serve at the pleasure of the High Sheriff, right or wrong. He had some great stories. He wound up in NC trying to stay in LE. NCDMV was the first that called. I met him in ’93 when he was transferred to my office. We worked together for eight years. Ever seen or heard of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour? He looked & acted just like Ron White with less hair (LE cut). Same build, same smile, same sarcasm, smoked a cigarette the same way…complete doppelganger.

    • That’s funny Ron White with the drink in one hand and the cigar in the other what did they call him- his nickname? it’s escaping me…

    • Ron White was born Dec. 1956. Cassidy was born Nov. 1954. Good catch.

      Their similarities in manner, speech, humor and build were striking…and, a bit weird, at times.

      Sorry for the delay. I never got a notice that you responded. WP is jacking with its code, again.

    • Wow only 2 years apart….that’s crazy I would have guessed ten.. I notice anymore I am not getting good at guessing ages as i once was..

    • Of course, that was an LE photo with cheap equipment. Damn things look like mug shots.

      Guessing ages is nearly impossible these days. You don’t know who has been nipped, tucked, chemical peeled or plasticized.

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