Historical Markers
Anthracite Mine Disaster Historical Marker
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Anthracite Mine Disaster

Poconos / Endless Mountains


Marker Location:
In front of Throop Borough Building, Charles Street & Sanderson Avenue

Dedication Date:
October 23, 1994

Behind the Marker

Mine disasters were all too familiar to the people of the anthracite region. The state government has identified 119 anthracite mine or tunnel accidents between 1847 and 1999 in which five or more people were killed. On this tragic list, the Anthracite Mine Disaster, also called the Pancoast disaster of 1911, ranks as the third worst, behind markerAvondale mine fire of 1869, which killed 110, and the Baltimore Tunnel explosion of 1919, which killed 92.

The day after the Anthracite Mine Disaster, Scranton's Tribune-Republican bleakly reported: "As early as 3 o'clock in the afternoon it was evident that the men were all dead."

The rescuing gangs had no more than penetrated past the burned engine house when they found three bodies. The smoke and heat was so intense where the rescuers worked that they who had entered the mine six hours after the fire had started, reeled and fell and required stimulants to keep revived. "What chance have they got when the rescuers themselves are falling over?" said one grim workman. "They're all dead. No man can live down there."

No attempt was made to take the bodies from the mine in daylight. Carrying bodies from a mine in the face of a crowd of 5,000 people, among whom were wives and children of the dead, would not have quieted the thousands that crowded against the ropes.

The fire had begun in the mine tunnel's engine house, a wooden structure, with heavy yellow pine plank flooring, at about 8:30 in the morning on April 7, 1911. As workmen tried to extinguish the blaze, twenty wooden mine cars also caught fire. The seventy-two men working in the tunnel east of the fire were as far away as 2000 feet.

As the Tribune-Republican reasoned, workers may have been able to run ahead of the smoke, "through devious chambers and cross-cuts," if they knew of the danger, and "if they had an hour to do so, but the smoke came on them marker much quicker than that."

Mine officials of Scranton Coal Company insisted they had warned the men, but as the newspaper reported the grim details of finding the bodies, it was clear that the men had not known. When the United Mine Workers officials demanded to know why the mine had continued to work two hours after the fire started, more questions followed.

"If proper care had been taken there would have been no fire," declared Chief Roderick, head of Pennsylvania's Bureau of Mines. "The engine house should have been of non-combustible material. I do not know of any law except common sense, that demands this. However, the law ought to demand it."
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