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Dunbar Mine Explosion June 20, 1890
Over Thirty Miners Perish in a Burning Shaft

Thirty-one miners were killed by the explosion of gas in the coal mines at Hill Farm, owned by the Dunbar Furnace Company, a mile west of Dunbar, Penn., at 10:30 in the morning. The bodies of two of the unfortunates were taken out. The others, on the day after the accident, were still entombed in the mine, where a fierce fire was raging. Desperate efforts were made to clear the way and recover the bodies but without avail. A rescuing party of 100 men, headed by Mine Inspector KEIGHLY, spent the afternoon in the ill-fated pit.There were fifty-seven miners in the pit when the explosion occurred. They were at work in the headings off to the right and left of the main entry, about 5000 feet from the mouth of the slope. Near the point at which the heading started in different directions an air hole had been drilled recently. This was a pinch hole. Gas and water had accumulated in it. A few minutes before the explosion occurred PATRICK KERWIN penetrated the air hole with his pick. A strong stream of water gushed out. KERWIN was horrified. He sounded the alarm. His assistant, PATRICK HAYES, started hurriedly for the main entrance. He had scarcely started when the foul gas was ignited from his lamp.The explosion which followed was terrific. What little air there was in the place drifted to the heading to the right of the main entrance. The fire followed swiftly, and before the thirty-one men could be alarmed all hope of escape was shut off by the flames. The twenty-six men employed in the left heading were notified of the danger in time to save their lives, although their escape was thrilling and was accompanied by the wildest confusion.At a point near where the explosion occurred the bodies of DANIEL SHOERAN, fire boss, and DAVID HAYES were found. They had evidently attempted to escape through the flames. 
The explosion was one of the most disastrous and deadly in the history of the coke region. In the Leisenring disaster in 1883 twenty-three men lost their lives. At Colonel J. M. Reed's works at Dunbar, Penn., two years earlier five men were killed, while at the Youngstown works a year later fourteen lives were lost. This latest calamity has unnerved the community, and the inhabitants are wild with excitement.
Thousands of people gathered at the mouth of the mines during the afternoon. Among them were the parents, wives, children and sweethearts of the unfortunates, and a strong guard of police was necessary to prevent many of them, mad with anguish, from rushing into the deadly hole. Wives, widowed by the calamity, stood about illy clad and sore footed, lulling to sleep their babes in arms. Mothers wrung their hands and cried aloud for their boys, while children from eight to fifteen years of age hurried about looking into the black faces of the escaped miners in the hope of finding their fathers of brothers.These works furnish coke for the Dunbar Furnace Company, which owns them. George Parrish, of Wilkesbarre, is President of the company. Samuel Dickson and J. C. Bullitt, of Philadelphia, are among the heaviest stockholders. The company has been fairly successful. It has a capital stock of $700,000. Consideration of this amount is held in Uniontown.The officers of the furnace company have been notified of the disaster, and the authorities have been instructed to do everything in their power to relieve the distress of those who have suffered by the calamity.The loss by the explosion cannot now be ascertained. It will be heavy, however, and the owners are fearful that the works will have to be abandoned.At midnight the smoke and gas from the right shaft poured up the main exit, and after trials almost beyond human endurance the rescuing party gave up all hopes of ever recovering their comrades bodies from that entrance, and turned their attention to the Ferguson mine, one and a half miles away.The men say that had they known the shaft was to be broken into they would never have entered the mine, as either water or gas would surely have followed, since in these regions gas always comes from the upper shale. The owners, however, and, in fact, some of the men themselves, say it was an accident pure and simple, that could not be avoided.
List of the Victims

Following is a full list of the missing miners:

FERNEY, MILT, married.
EAGAN, PETER, forty-four years old.
McGUILL, ROBERT, single.
COPE, JOHN, married.
COPE, ANDY, his son.
DEVILE, PAT, married.
DEBANNEY, JOHN, married.
DEBANNEY, JOHN, his son.
JOY, JOHN, married.
DAVIS, DAVID, married.
CAHILL, PAT, married.
COURTNEY, PAT, married.
COURTNEY, JOHN, his son.
SOUTH, DAN, married.
SHEARN, JAMES, single.
SHEARN, DANNY, single.
HAYS, WILLIAM, his son.
McCLEARY, JAMES, married.
McCLEARY, THOMAS, married.
DEWEY, ELMER, single.
BIGLEY, JOSEPH, aged 30, leaves wife and two children.
MAUST, EMANUEL, brothers.
MITCHELL, JOHN, aged 40, married.

Hill Farm Mine Disaster, Dunbar 18 June 1890
Hill Farm Mine Disaster, Dunbar 18 June 1890
Artist: A.E. Harbasgh
Hill Farm Mine Disaster
Hill Farm Mine Disaster
Dunbar 18 June 1890