Johnstown Mine Disaster Marker Will Be Dedicated | News, Sports, Jobs

On the night of July 10, 1902, James E. Roderick, then head of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mines, had just arrived in Atlantic City, NJ, when he heard a newsagent on the boardwalk shouting about a mining disaster in Johnstown.

“I heard the newsboys shouting: ‘Extra night! Big explosion in Johnstown! Two hundred or three hundred lives lost! » Roderick writes in the Bureau’s 1902 report on mines. “I gave the report very little credence, as I could not conceive how something so serious could have happened at this mine, which was one of the safest and best-running in the state. “

Roderick was speaking of the Cambria Steel Co. Rolling Mill mine explosion, which occurred around 11:30 a.m. on July 10, 1902. As the 120th anniversary of the disaster approaches, she will join the ranks of residents and Notable state events with a Pennsylvania historical marker. dedication on July 9 in Johnstown.

While only seven deaths were caused by the actual explosion – which happened when deadly methane called ” gas blast “ came into contact with surface mining lamps carried by two miners – the toxic fumes from the “after-humidity” following the explosion, the death toll eventually reached 112 people. Twenty-one were rescued alive after the incident, which happened in the Klondike section of the mine.

“All men employed near the gas that exploded were selected because of their knowledge of safety lamps and the method of using them to examine them for gas,” state inspectors JT Evans, IG Roby, CB Ross, and Joseph Williams wrote in their 1902 report. “No locked out safety lights should have been used in the part of the mine where the explosion occurred.”

Additional reports indicate that many miners at the time did not consider safety lamps to be a useful tool, as they did not give nearly the same amount of illumination as an open lamp.

“Until a safety lamp is brought to market which will give as good illumination as ordinary ‘bare’ light, men will continue to dislike the common safety lamp.” read the report.

The Rolling Mill Mine disaster remains one of the deadliest mining accidents in United States history.

The Pennsylvania Historical Marker will be dedicated at 6:30 p.m. on July 9 along Route 56 at the bottom of the Johnstown Incline, 711 Edgehill Drive.

The marker is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.

Patrick Varine is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter.

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