Palos, AL No 3 Coal Mine Explosion, May 1910


Nearly Two Hundred at Work and All Are Believed to Be Dead – Three Bodies Found.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 5. - Forty-five white men and between 130 and 140 negroes are entombed in No. 3 coal mine at Palos tonight as the result of a terrific explosion occurring this morning and it is believed all are dead. Palos is forty miles west of Birmingham and the mines are owned by the Palos Coal and Coke company of this city. Three bodies were found early tonight but it is expected that few of those remaining in the mine can be recovered before morning. The flames resulting from the explosion shot into the air from the slope for a distance of 200 feet and the shock was felt for miles. Timbers from the slope were hurled several hundred feet from its mouth and rocks from the roof of the slope caved in and made access to the mouth very difficult. The fan machinery was badly damaged but air is being pumped into the mine tonight in hopes that some of the men are still alive.

Residents began to do what they could to relieve the men but the relief train arrived in Palos from Birmingham shortly after 4 o'clock with eight physicians and surgeons, four undertakers, and a number of special helpers.

The first rescuers who went into the mine after the explosion were overcome by firedamp and had to be carried out. Mr. Rutledge was among the first to enter and after working his way 1,400 feet down the slope found the second right entry caved in. The bodies recovered tonight were in the main slope.

WASHINGTON, May 5. - Geological Survey Mine Rescue Experts J. J. Rutledge and George F. Rice, who were in Birmingham investigating the Mulga disaster, have been instructed to proceed with their rescue equipment to the Palos mine.

When member of congress heard of the disaster then thoughts turned at once to the measure now in conference for the creation of a bureau of mines in the interior department.

Senator Scott, who had charge of the bill in the senate immediately took steps to get the conferees together for the adjustment of the differences between the senate and the house. The bill will become a law as soon as the conference report is adopted and the act is signed by the president.

PALOS, Ala., May 5 - Eleven bodies have been found in mine No. 3 of the Palos Coal and Coke company late tonight. Rescue parties have reached the 1,400 foot level and are working steadily toward the 2,300 foot level where the majority of the miners were working at the time of explosion.

All of the bodies found are horribly mangled and burned, some being beyond recognition. The head of an unknown white man was found several feet away from his body.

The work of bringing the bodies to the surface will not begin until tomorrow.

The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, NE 6 May 1910


Among those identified was C. H. Stansberry, assistant mine foreman. Among the dead in the mine is said to be H. A. McARDLE, whose brother is president of the amalgamated association of tin and steel-workers in Pennsylvania.

James Liddell, one of the best known miners in the Birmingham district and a former legislator, was overcome by afterdamp while aiding in the work of rescue. His condition was serious for a time, but when he recovered he again took charge of one of the rescue crews.

The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, NE 7 May 1910



Smoke in Palos Mines Caused Considerable Delay.

PALOS, Ala., May 7. - The discovery of a small fire in No. 4 right entry at the Palos mines, where Thursday's disastrous explosion occurred, seriously hampered the rescue work today. When the fire was discovered all miners were ordered out of the mine. The blaze was small but much smoke delayed for hours the rescue work.

While only thirty-five bodies have been brought up, the men are still working with vigor tonight. The Red Cross relief fund is still growing and the response in Birmingham has been remarkably spontaneous and substantial. Practically all the dead miners leave families.

The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, NE 8 May 1910



Decomposed Bodies Taken From Workings at Palos, Ala.

PALOS, Ala., May 8. - The bodies taken today from the Palos mine where last Thursday's explosion occurred, were so decomposed that it was almost impossible to handle them. Disinfectants are being shipped in. In a number of cases it was impossible to get bodies into the coffins provided. The funerals in the little mining camp began today. A special plot of ground was set aside on the opposite side of the hill from the mouth of the slope and here men were engaged all day digging graves while the mourners carried their loved ones and laid them to their last rest.

The rescuers have not reached the lowest part of the slope and have been working their way back examining headings on the other side. Eight of ten bodies were found in one little group. Last night about midnight three bodies were lying close together with every indication that they had not been killed by the explosion but had died of suffocation. One of the men had taken off his coat and wrapped it around his head as if to keep out the gar. Another was lying face downward with his arms covering his face. Another was holding a cloth of some kind over his face.

At 10 o'clock tonight sixty-seven bodies had been recovered from the mine and a number of others had been located.

State Mine Inspector Hillhouse said at midnight that he expected to have everybody out of the mine by tomorrow noon. The rescuers are working constantly and bodies are now being brought up every few minutes. The work is expected to proceed very rapidly from now on unless there are further accidents to delay the rescuers.

The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, NE 9 May 1910


James Gousby, a mail carrier, was caught by the explosion thirty feet from the mouth of the slope, and his body was hurled into the Warrior river.

The Post Standard, Syracuse, NY 6 May 1910



My father was on bridge at the time. He was reported dead but for some reason was not working that day. He was only 12 years old waiting for his brother who was killed. The aftermath could only be matched by the treatment of the widows. Poverty begat more poverty. I have newspaper articles from Pa. on this.

Mail Carrier

I have a story told to me about the mail carrier; would like to get in contact with anyone who knew or is related to him. lwsmith@samford.edu

Palos No. 3 gravesite

I think I may have communicated with Barry via email. I visited the grave sites many times during my childhood growing up in ghost coal mining town Palos, site of Palos No. 3 which explosed in 1910. I even wrote a children's book (not published) centered around the push/pull ferry between Palos and Bessie (now a mountaintop removal travesty) and the old gravesite. I note now that from the New York Times reporting of 200 men killed there is discrepant reporting that it was 84. I always claimed 200 until my google search today direction for "Palos No. 3 explosion" pulled up different sources.

Note: There is an archive of mines explosions online (and offline) at the Birmingham Public Library in Birmingham, Alabama. A great source for union history that also includes mines and mining explosions is the Facebook site for Working Class Heroes.

Please ask Barry to get back in touch with me. Thank you.

paloscoalmine explosion

Been in palos #3 mines many times. Grew up in Palos from i

Hosmer Family, Palos, Alabama, mine explosion

Re comment of September 6th, 2010, by Mark Hosmer: I knew the Hosmer family that lived in Palos, Alabama, during the 1950's. Also a "Mrs. Byrd" that was a relative living with them. I know some people who have learned about the explosion from grandparents.

Grave Sites, Palos, Alabama

I used to play around these overgrown graves and gravestones when I was a child. I had no idea that they were from this explosion. I think I know "Barry" via email. I wrote an unpublished children's book about the pull-ferry, the ferryman, and the graves.

Palos Mine Explosion Graves

The graves of J.S. Pennington my great- grandfather, James C. Pennington, Sr. my grandfather, Albert and Clarence Pennington, my great-uncles are located in a cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama. My father James C. Pennington placed a gravestone there 20 years ago to honor their memories. At that time, there were 4 cement slabs carved by hand and barely ledgible marking their graves.

James C. Pennington, Sr.who was married to Virginia Blythe Pennington had 2 children - Annie M. Pennington Beard and my father who were 2 years old and 3 months old respectively at the time of the mine explosion.

Yes. Nancy is my mother,

Yes. Nancy is my mother,

grave site

where are the grave sites located?

The mail carrier was my

The mail carrier was my great grandfather and he is misnamed in this article. His name was Samuel Goolsby.