Marianna, PA Mine Explosion Disaster, Nov 1908 - 200 May Be Dead


Men Entombed in Mariana Shaft With Fans Stopped and Lives of All Thought to Be Sacrificed.

Special to The Courier

WASHINGTON, Pa., Nov. 28. -- Nearly two hundred men may perish in one of the worst disasters in Washington county's mining history which occurred this morning in the new Mariana shaft of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company. One hundred and ninety men, at work at the time, are entombed and it is doubtful if any can be rescued alive. Among the dead is Mine Foreman HENRY THOMPSON. Mine Inspector HENRY LOUTTIT of the First Bituminous District, inspected the mine this morning and had just come out when the explosion let go.

The force of the explosion did great damage on the surface. The new tipple was almost totally wrecked while other buildings in the neighborhood were badly damaged. The ventilating fans were put out of commission with the first shock and since the accident the frenzied efforts of the rescuers have been devoted towards restoring ventilation in the hope of saving some of the entombed men. The boiler house, engines and machinery were so badly damaged that work along this line is badly handicapped.

At 1:55 this afternoon officials of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company arrived on the scene and took charge of the work of rescue. Every mining official in that section is rushing to the scene to aid the officials of the company. Mine inspectors from Western Pennsylvania will hasten to the scene as quickly as possible to contribute expert aid of the rescuers.

The explosion of unknown origin, occurred at 10:55 o'clock this morning. The big timbers in the shaft were wrecked and the only means of ingress into the depths of the mine are through the air shafts or workings of other mines. As quickly as possible rescue parties were organized and attacked these various ways of forcing an entrance into the doomed pit in a effort to reach, if possible, any workers who might survive. It is probable that their progress may be blocked by vast piles of debris to reach the wrecked area ways and chambers where the men were at work.

Even if the entombed miners survived the effects of the explosion they are likely to succumb to the effects of the fatal black damp which follows such explosions.

Mine Inspector LOUTTIT stated at noon today that he did not believe any of the entombed miners could survive and those who were not instantly killed by the first explosion must certainly have succumbed to suffocation.

Inspector LOUTTIT, Mine Foreman THOMPSON and General Manager JOSEPH KERR made an inspection of the mine this morning and found everything all right. THOMPSON left the other two and started to descend the 450 feet to the lower levels of the mine. While descending the explosion occurred. The cage was blown high into the air, striking the machinery at the top of the shaft and piling wreckage about the mouth of the mine. THOMPSON was instantly killed. Only one shaft, No. 2, is in operation. At 1 o'clock, the fan was repaired and placed in operation, but after being without air for nearly two hours it is probably that all the miners are dead.

PITTSBURG, Nov. 28. -- JOHN H. JONES, president of the Pittsburg-Buffalo Company, stated at 12:45 that he had received a report of the explosion and said probably 200 men were entombed. It is not known whether the explosion was of gas or powder. The entire force of men was at work at the time.

Arrangements were immediately made for rushing a rescuing party, equipped with the latest applicances [sic] by special train to the scene.

The Daily Courier Connellsville, Pennsylvania 1908-11-28