Plymouth, PA Avondale Mine Disaster, Sept 1869 - Further Particulars


Further particulars from the Burning Mine – Two Hundred and two miners in the Shaft.

The following Scranton, Pa. Despatch [sic] gives additional particulars:
The fire began at 10 o'clock this morning. All experts are agreed that it must have communicated from the ventilating furnace to the work at the bottom of the shaft, which is three hundred and twenty-seven feet below the surface. The flames then rushed with great violence up to the shaft and broke out in the engine room at the top. The engineer barely escaped with his life. The buildings covering the mouth of shaft ___ were one hundred feet high and two hundred feet long, all of wood, and dry as tinder. They were almost instantly enveloped in flames, and it was impossible to reach the mouth of the shaft to help the men below.

Dispatches just received from Avondale, say THOMAS W. WILLIAMS, of Plymouth, and DAVID JONES, of Grant Tunnel, who went down to make investigations, were suffocated to death. On a second attempt WILLIAMS' dead body was brought out by DAVID H. DAVIS and BENJ. JONES. THOMAS WILLIAMS went down and dragged DAVID JONES some distance to the foot of the shaft, when he was compelled to come up. JOHN W. and ISAAC THOMAS then went down and brought up the body. All who attempted to go down are now alive, except WILLIAMS and JONES. No further attempt will be made to go down until a small engine is rigged.

The loss by the burning of the Avondale mine works is $80,000 to $100,000, not counting loss by stoppage of mining. This mine had been involved on a strike for over three months, but resumed last Thursday, and was producing 450 tons of coal per day. The works were built in 1867, and it will take four or six months to rebuild.

It will take until five o'clock in the morning to-morrow to get a small engine at work to drive a fan at the mouth of the shaft and force air through a canvass hose. All who have been down say it is very hot, and loud calls have failed to elicit an answer. The only hope for the 200 men in the mine is that they may have shut themselves in a remote part of the works, entirely away from the draft. Several hundred, men, with tools, were taken from here this evening with the idea of driving a gangway from a neighboring mine into the Avondale workings; but as it must be solid rock cutting, this means would probably not relieve the imprisoned men in time. The distance to be cut is variously estimated at from 20 to 60 feet, and the time required two or three days. It had been feared that the ventilating furnace at Avondale would some day fire the shaft, as it was a very dry mine. The danger to life is very great in a mine which has but one means of entrance and exit. It is thought Avondale is but one of many mines in the same condition. It is to be hoped the next Legislature will not, as so many previous ones have done, refuse to pass a stringent law for the protection of miners and the inspection of mines.