Friday, August 23, 2013


April 29, 1865

 Pottsville miners Journal .

There was terrible mining accident Six men killed by the breaking of a slow change. On Tuesday afternoon last a terrible accident happened at the colliery of Mr. John Doherty, Mine Hill, this County. By the breaking of a slope chain, by which six miners were instantly killed, and one was seriously injured. It seems that the unfortunate men were being hoisted to the top of the slope in a wagon, and when it reached to within 15 yards of the top, the chain broke. The wagon descended with frightful velocity during the this decent the door opened in consequence of the wagon striking the timber, and the men were thrown out. The names of the men who were killed our, William Sharp, John Hodges, Alfred Hodges, John Mitchell, Michael Shannon and Thomas Ferguson. The injured man is Michael Gaynor  who  is. though  badly injured it is thought that he will recover. Inquests were held by the corner, and verdicts rendered in accordance with the facts.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mine Mule, the best photo ever!!!!!!!

Just found this photo of a unique Mine Mule taken in the anthracite region of Eastern Pa. This is the best photo of a mine mule I have ever come across. It was in our archives at the Historical Society of Schuylkill County.
Only wish I new its name and at what colliery. Damn!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mule Revealed Death Of A Miner

Anybody who reads this blog will note that I like Mules, especially mine mules those wonderful animals that worked for years in the depths of the anthracite coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania.
Here is an interesting story from March 6, 1907 issue of the Daily Pottsville Republican newspaper.
There is a superstition about the mines that the mule is able to give warming of an impending accident and is also gifted with a sixth sense whereby it can tell when a fatality has occurred, which superstation has taken a further hold on the employees of the Glendower colliery as is the result of the display of this sense given by a mule when John Zerbe of Mt. Pleasant was killed at that colliery.
The mule was at work on the surface while Zerbe was deep in the mines. Suddenly the animal; broke loose from a post of which he was tied, ran to the mouth of the slope and again and again repeated a loud hee haw, which could be heard about the entire colliery. It was with difficulty that the animal could be taken away from the mouth of the slope and when it was finally forced to do so it threw itself flat on the ground and pawed wildly, refusing to get up. The actions of the animal were so peculiar and so unexpected that the employees were unable to surmise the cause when a foreigner solemnly walked up and said, “Must be a man die inside.”
This superstition was known to all and an investigation was made with the result that the body of Zerbe was discovered crushed to death, the accident having happened about the same time that the mule ran to the mouth of the slope.
Zerbe has volunteered to do some measuring in a small offset, which was so small that the other men could not get in to do it, and it was while engaged at this that the fall of coal occurred which resulted in his death.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Murderous Assault on The Captain Smith of The Canal Boat.Virginia 1865

Pottsville Miners Journal
September 23 1865

On Monday morning last about 3 o’clock, as the boat Virginia, owned by the Schuylkill Navigation company, and commanded by Captain Smith of Reading, was passing through the guard locks at Landingville, this County, four Irishmen boarded the boat, two seating themselves at the bow of the boat, and two at the stern. As the boat was passing up the dam, the men gathered around the Captain, and demanded his money... The Captain replied that he had but seven dollars, and they could have that. The robbers were dissatisfied, and one of the ruffians named Owen Mullen, struck the Captain on the head with a billy, and threw him on the hatchway. The Captain’s son, a small boy, who had loaded a gun by his father’s direction, came up the cabin steps, and placing the gun near Mullens head, fired the contents through the head of the robber, killing him instantly. Malloy, lived on “The Flat”, Schuylkill Haven. And was known to be a desperate character. After Mullen was shot the rest of the men attempted to seize Captain Smith, but he sprang overboard and swam ashore. His son followed him by jumping through the cabin window. When the Captain jumped in the water the ruffians threw the tiller at him, but fortunately it missed him. The Captain and his son succeeded in reaching Orwigsburg Landing. Without further molestation. The robbers pulled the boat tothe shore, and escaped. Every good citizen will feel a sense of relief that such a scoundrel as Mullen has been disposed of, and earnestly hope that other wretches in this county, when caught in crime, may be sent the same road quickly.
On Monday Coroner Johnson held an inquest, The jury rendered a verdict of Justifiable homicide

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The Palo Alto Cut


There are seven coal veins that lie under the conglomerate rock strata in the Pottsville basin, or under Pottsville itself.
The York farm breaker once stood northwest of the Pottsville High School veteran’s memorial stadium. Back in the old days, (1880’s and 90”s) the big black structure could be seen from all parts of the town.
The Tunnel was bored southward in the direction of sharp mountain. It was done in the late 1890’s. It went under the hill on which the high school stands, under a section of town near 19th and 20th Sts., and right up into Sharp Mountain.
It cut acr4oss a lot of veins, most of them twice, on the north and south sides of Pottsville basin. What that means is it cut them on the hill where the colliery stood and again where they came up on Sharp Mountain.
There was an air hole drilled from one of the veins to the surface, and it is said to have come out near the southeastern entrance of St. John Cemetery at 20th street, and then known as Broad Street.
The tunnel was driven at an elevation of 485 feet above sea level. And if the elevation of Center and Norwegian st., is 618 plus, as we always have been told, (Actually GPS Verifies this) Then it is easy to conclude that the old York Tunnel is some 133 feet or 44 yards lower than Pottsville’s busiest intersection, though still not low enough to cut the shallowest vein in the basin.
But it apparently deep enough to have pierced all the veins on the south slope of Sharp Mountain, had it been driven farther south through the mountain. If it had been driven all the way, all arguments about coal on the southern slope of Sharp Mt. would have been settled;. As they really never knew if coal extended below the Sharp Mountain.
In the 1950’s the Boulevard or Route 61 was cut through Sharp Mountain in 1950, from Palo Alto to Mt. Carbon, we now have the opportunity to view the last of the southern veins of coal in the Anthracite region on the south side of Sharp Mountain. It is apparent that they were not workable, but you can still see them when you get off 61 and head into Palo Alto. Maybe they could have been worked, who knows.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Deadly Disaster At The Chamberlain Colliery in St. Clair, Pa. 1887

A Deadly Disaster At The Chamberlain Mine in St. Clair, Pa. 1887

On April 17, 1887 Easter Monday,, in the town of St. Clair, Pa. A hearse pulled by two black horses led two curtained horse carriages toward the cemetery bearing the body of a young girl.

On Saturday, April 16, 1887 disaster struck the town of St. Clair. The week before Miss Minnie M. Keiter came home from Vassar College to spend her Easter Vacation., bringing with her Miss Verlista Shaul, a college friend.
The two young girls visited with many of Minnie’s friends in town, celebrating the Easter holiday. Miss Shaul like a lot of people who were not from the area desired to see the interior of a coal mine. Minnie knowing many who worked in and around the mines arranged fro her to have a look.
Minnie was well acquainted with the workings of a coal mine having grown up in the area she had been down many times. Living next door to the Keiter family was Mr. Hiatt one of the owners of the Chamberlain Colliery, Minnie asked him if he could take Verlista down for a tour.
Mr. Hiatt Agreed to do give the girls the tour. He introduced Minnie to Harry Short who was always willing to entertain visitiors and went along for the tour into the mine.
Full of frolic and good humor the group started off for the mine. Mrs. Keiter talked to the girls and told them to be careful that no accidents would befall them. Minnie and Verlista talked with Mr. Keiter about the up coming tour and he gave his consent.
The girls arrived at the mine entrance which was about thousand yards below the Borough line; they soon had a mine car placed at their service. The party consisting of Minnie, Verlista and Harry Short descended the slope accompanied by Peter Harrison the engineer of the mine who had just surfaced to retrieve a piece of pipe for the exhaust pipe of the Allison pump he was working on down in the mine. The engineer notified Daniel Thompson who was also working on the pump that some ladies were in the mine for a tour.
After finishing the work he was engaged in Thompson went out to the bottom to receive the visitors, show them so light and escort them to the mouth of the tunnel and entertain them until his brother Edwin would arrive and take over the tour. While waiting for Edwin Thompson the group was engaged in merry banter and laughing like young people would do having no worry of the danger that they were exposed to.
Edwin Thompson arrived and had his safety lamp with him as he had been working in the Little Vein where he knew there was gas. The visit was to be made to the big vein where he was confident that there was no gas. (Fire Damp).
Mr. Thompson started out ahead of the group carrying his safety lamp, Minnie and Harry Short were given regular miner’s lamps. As they started walking Dan Thompson called to his brother Edwin that he should be careful for he was responsible for the safety of the young ladies.
Through the tunnel and into the Big Tracey vein the party tramped until they came close to the turnout. Mr. Thompson in the advance.
What happened next know one can say for sure, Apparently one of the open flame miners’ lamps was raised high enough to reach fire damp that was hovering above them. Quick as lighting the gas ignited and a flash, flame reached the main body of the gas causing an explosion for over a hundred and fifty yards ahead and back of the gangway with the force and velocity of cannon fire.
In this case the fire did little damage, but the blow mad sad havocs of those in the gangway. Edwin Thompson saw none of the lights of his companions, but he saw for a split second a ball of fire through the gangway and then he was unconscious, being hurled by the force of the explosion and dashed to the ground.
In other parts of the mine Daniel Thompson and George Frantz felt the wind from the expulsion and knew something dreadful had happened. They immediately rushed through the tunnel to the Big vein where they feared the explosion had occurred.
Daniel Thompson soon came upon Minnie Keiter who lay bruised and bleeding, who was crying and begging to be taken home for she was dying. Giving her all the attention he could, he ran over to Harry Short who he found lying with his neck across the rail and his low back toward the gutter unconscious. Grabbing a piece of board Mr. Thompson took off his shirt and making a pillow of it placed it on the board and put it under Harry’s head so that he could breathe. Moving forward Mr. Thompson found Miss Shaul about two yards further. She was wearing a gossamer and it had rapped twice around her head from the force of the explosion. She lay unconscious. Mr. Thompson thinking her dead leaned down and listened for signs of life. Finding a faint heart beat, he quickly tore the gossamer away and gave here a chance to breathe.
By this time Edwin had regained conscious ness and crept toward the sound of the voices. Before he reached where Miss Shaul lay, he fell over through weakness caused by an ugly gash in his hip. Leaving Edwin to fend for himself as he was the least injured of the party, Daniel ran back to where Minnie lay and as the other men had reached her they immediately set to work to get the suffering victims out before the poison after damp sets in that always follows a gas explosion.
They carried Minnie to the bottom and retuned with a car for the others and brought them to the bottom also. They worked fast ahead of the dangerous and deadly after damp before more people would die.
The victims were carefully hoisted up the slope. Mr. and Mrs. Hiatt being there to receive them.
Dr. A.P. Carr, a skilled surgeon was on hand to do what he could for the victims. He found all four of them in very bad shape. Harry Short especially being battered and bruised beyond recognition. By this time the colliery whistle had blown and half the town flocked to the scene of the disaster. The ladies were hauled home, Miss Shaul laid perfectly still bearing all the pain and agony she endured with courage. Miss Keiter’s injuries were beyond all endurance and her excruciating pain made her scream so that her screams could be heard a square away. Those terrible screams from the dying girl carried horror to all who heard them and brought back from the hearts of the most earnest sympathy for the poor young sufferer.
Dr. Carr examined the three victims and found that Miss Keiter suffered a compound fracture of the left thigh, a completely crushed ankle with the left foot hanging by a few shreds of skin. Serious burns of the face and several ugly scalp wounds. Miss Shaul, covered with coal dust had a fracture of the left thigh and sever burns. Mr Thompson’s head and hands were burned and a long deep gash on his hip.
Harry Short had four sever gashes of the head and one a dangerous fracture at the base of the brain, his left arm was broken, but no burns were found on his body.
Minnie Keiter, who’s screams guided the rescuers to the party died in the evening. Harry Short suffered for three more days and then passed away.
Verlista Shaul, lame and disfigured returned to her home where it was said she lived by day in the curtained attic, and walked at night in her garden. Verlista would have graduated valedictorian of her class at Vassar.
Mr. Thompson recovered and, except for infrequent bouts with disturbing sleep.