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Archive for November 6th, 2011

The Lawson Mine after the November 6, 1910 explosion, which claimed the lives of 16 miners—5 of which were never recovered.

The Lawson Mine after the November 6, 1910 explosion, which claimed the lives of 16 miners—5 of which were never recovered.

Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, October 2010

By Ken Jensen

In the history of the Green River coal fields, there were three major mining disasters: Franklin, on August 24, 1894, where 37 miners were suffocated in a coal mine fire—the worst coal-mining disaster in King County; Ravensdale, on November 16, 1915, where 31 men perished in a coal mine explosion; and 100 years ago this November 6, the Lawson Mine explosion that took the lives of 16 men.

“It happened on Sunday,” remembered BDHS co-founder Carl Steiert in Black Diamond: Mining the Memories. “It was maintenance men that got it. Had it been at full capacity, the miners would have been in there, too.” Regina Marckx Whitehill, another Black Diamond pioneer, remembered the big explosion, too. “Dad had worked every Sunday for weeks and weeks, but that particular Sunday, he said, ‘I’m just not going to work today. I’m going to rest for a day.’” The man who took her Dad’s place was never found.

The cause of the explosion was never determined, the damage to the mine being so severe that rescuers were unable to make their way to the lowest levels. Five men are still there—entombed at the bottom of the mine under tons of coal and debris.

Newspapers accounts of the day best described the destruction with one word: “Volcanic….(more…)

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