Coal fueled the Industrial Age and Pennsylvania produced the majority of it; producing over 100 million tons. Sadly, it also made the lives of coal miners and their families very hard. Miners were usually immigrant men and boys. The month of December 1907 saw three major explosions rock Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Monongah Mine explosion, in West Virginia, killed 362 miners. The Darr Mine in Jacobs Creek killed 239 miners, and lastly, the Naomi Mine, in Pennsylvania, killed 34.
Workers were paid by how much coal was produced, not by how much they worked. Labor and safety laws weren’t what they are today. Management neglect, and in some cases, criminal negligence, resulted in the mass losses of life. During the aftermath of the explosion at Darr Mine, both the Superintendent and the Fire Boss resigned. They reported that they told the owners about the unsafe conditions in the mine and were ignored.
Bad working conditions and the possibility of injury or death were an accepted part of the job. Miner families were resigned to these conditions, but just hoped that they would be fortunate enough to escape harm or death.
The thing that stood out to me during researching this topic is that no noticeable safety procedures came about after these tragedies. The Darr Mine continued operating and suffered no legal consequences. They eventually closed down, due to lack of coal production.
Mining continues to be a dangerous profession, which results in dozens of deaths a year in the United States.
Photo Caption: Members of the Darr Mine Explosion rescue team.
I currently attend Schoolcraft College, in Livonia, Michigan. I am the mother of a 15 year old daughter and live in Westland, Michigan.