Little Bits of History

October 31

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 31, 2017

1903: Two trains collide in Indianapolis, Indiana. Two special trains were operated by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (also called the Big Four Railroad) and were carrying over 1,500 passengers from Lafayette, Indiana to Indianapolis. There was a heated football rivalry between Indiana University and Purdue University. The game was being played for the first time in “neutral” territory at Washington Park, located in Indianapolis. A coal train, unaware of the special trains approaching, backed out onto the main railway line. The lead train rounded a curve and the coal train was blocking the tracks.

The engineer of the special train was able to throw the engine into reverse and set the brake. He then jumped clear of the engine. Unable to actually stop the train, it ran into the coal train and killed several people in the lead car. These were mostly players from the Purdue team. Seventeen people were killed in the accident, fourteen of them Purdue University football team players. Others from farther back in the train rushed forward to help the injured. A line of horse and buggies lined up near the wreckage and carried away the dead to the morgue and the injured to local hospitals. There were no ambulances and no cars at the scene. The second train was ten minutes behind the first and many of the uninjured ran back to stop the second train keeping even more from being injured.

Harry Leslie was taken to the morgue, presumed dead at the scene. He was captain of both the football and baseball teams at the time. He was a star player and in extremely good physical health. At the morgue, as the mortician was preparing to embalm Leslie, it was noted he still had a pulse. He was immediately rushed to the hospital. It would take several operations and Leslie was near death for several weeks. He did slowly recover and returned to school a year later. He graduated with a degree in law. He gained much notoriety from the Purdue Wreck, becoming a folk hero.

Leslie went on to graduate from Indiana Law School in 1907 and opened a law office in Lafayette. He then entered into the political arena first at a local level. He also sold his family farm and bought stock in a local bank, becoming the president until 1924. He was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives and was Speaker of the House from 1925-1927. He went on to become the 33rd Governor of Indiana, holding the office from 1929 until 1933. After retiring from politics, he founded the Standard Life Insurance Company of Indianapolis. He was a great lover of comedy and was friends with both George Ade and Will Rogers. He was visiting Ade in Miami when he suddenly died from heart disease at the age of 59.

We began carrying the people out, the injured ones. There was a line of horse-and-buggies along the whole stretch there for half a mile. We didn’t stop for ceremony; we simply loaded the injured people into the buggies and sent the buggies into town, got them to a hospital. – Joseph Bradfield, Purdue student

In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed. – Napoleon Bonaparte

There is no such thing as chance; and what seem to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny. – Friedrich Schiller

October 30

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 30, 2017

1965: Jean Shrimpton appears at Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia. She was born in rural England in 1942 and was what is considered to be the world’s first supermodel. She began her modeling career at the age of 17 and was brought to prominence with photographer David Bailey’s help. As she appeared on more magazine covers, her popularity grew. In 1962, the Victoria Racing Club in Australia was seeing waning interest in racing event and added a new twist to their four day Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival event. They began to offer Fashions on the Field competitions in order to attract more women to the racetrack.

In 1965, DuPont de Nemours International hired Shrimpton to go to the Carnival and judge the Fashions on the Field event. She would be traveling for two weeks and as the highest paid model in the world, demanded a £2000 fee. In comparison, The Beatles had been paid £1500 to tour Australia just the year before. The four days of the event included this day as well as Melbourne Cup Day, Oaks Day, and Stakes Day. Shrimpton was paid to promote DuPont’s new acrylic fabric, Orlon. DuPont sent material to Colin Rolfe in order that he might create a suitable wardrobe for the 5 foot 10 inch model.

Styles of the time demanded one be encased in an appropriate dress, a fantastic hat, beautiful accessories including gloves and stockings. Melbourne’s elite horse racing fans were quite demanding in the attire requirements. DuPont did not send quite enough material to Rolfe and he was faced with a challenge. On this day, Shrimpton wore a simple white shift dress without hat, gloves, or stockings. And even more shocking, the dress was a scandalous four inches above her knees. The minidress cause a bit of an uproar and it said to be one of the pivotal moments in women’s fashions.

Shrimpton was given many different names over her modeling career and it was claimed she was the most beautiful woman in the world at the time. She was part of the trend away from voluptuous figures and towards the gamine look. She was part of the Swinging London scene in the 1960s. She was named, in 2009 as one of the 26 best models of all time and in 2012 as one of the 100 most influential fashion icons. Today, she is married to Michael Cox and together they own Abbey Hotel in Penzance, Cornwall, England. It is managed by their son, Thaddeus.

The difference between style and fashion is quality. – Giorgio Armani

Fashion fades, only style remains the same. – Coco Chanel

Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself. – Oscar de la Renta

Fashion is about dreaming and making other people dream. – Donatella Versace



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October 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2017

1957: Moshe Dwek lobs a grenade. Dwek was born in Aleppo, Mandatory Syria into a Jewish family in 1931. In 1944, he was part of a group of Jewish boys who immigrated to Mandate Palestine and initially lived on kibbutz Forot and then on kibbutz Glil Yam. He fought in the Israeli War of Independence and in 1950, his entire family including parents and siblings immigrated to Israel. There are some references to a childhood injury that may have left him mentally unstable. There are also reports that he suffered a second injury after coming to Palestine, before Israel was founded.

Dwek attempted to sue the Jewish Agency for $66,000 for injuries but lost his case. He sent a series of threatening letters to the judge and was arrested but was found unfit to stand trial. He later tried to stow away on a plane bound for New York City, unsuccessfully. He was affiliated with no political parties. He was distraught over the lack of medical care and his inability to receive national insurance for his declining health. On this day, he entered the Frumin House where the Knesset was meeting. The unicameral portion of the Israeli government is the legislative branch responsible for passing all laws and electing the President and Prime Minister.

Rabbi Haim-Moshe Shapira of the National Religious Party was seriously injured. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Foreign Minister Golda Meir, and Transport Minister Moshe Carmel were all injured by shrapnel. Ben-Gurion and Meir were the intended targets. Dwek was examined by experts and found fit to stand trial. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, part of the time he was incarcerated was spent in a psychiatric hospital. He requested a retrial and was denied as was his request for a pardon after serving ten years of his sentence.

After his release, Dwek started his own political party, Tarshish. He made his own run for the Knesset in 1988 based on ending Ashkenazi hegemony (giving Jews returning from Diaspora the chance to be full Israeli citizens). He also demanded Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews be given greater control of government functionality. He included demands for building a university, college, and religious polytechnic institute in the city of Netanya. His commercials began with him chanting No’ar, No’ar, No’ar (literally “youth, youth, youth”). He received only 1,654 votes which was not enough to gain him his longed for seat in the Knesset.

In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles. – David Ben-Gurion

We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel. – Golda Meir

Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom. – John F. Kennedy

Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury. – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad



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 October 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 28, 2017

1956: Elvis Presley gets a polio vaccine on national TV. Poliomyelitis, sometimes called polio or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. The disease causes muscle weakness or even paralysis and can last for just hours to days. However, not everyone fully recovers and some are left with lasting deficits to the muscles affected. About 2-5% of children and 15-30% of adults who contract the disease die. The disease has been around since pre-history but the numbers have waxed and waned over time. In the early 20th century, there was a surge in the number of cases seen in the US. Since the disease is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not effective against it and instead, the best outcome comes from not ever getting infected. A search for a vaccine began in 1935 with disastrous results.

In 1950, there was an outbreak with 58,000 cases reported in the US and in 1955, another outbreak lead to 35,000 cases. Dr. Jonas Salk produced an injectable vaccine made up of killed polio virus. It was widely tested and found to be between 80 and 90% effective against this disease which left mostly children with lifelong crippling aftereffects. While many people did respond to the news and got small children vaccinated, older people – especially teens – were not getting the protection. There were a variety of reasons for this. Apathy was one since the name “infantile paralysis” left many older people unaware that they could still catch the virus. Another was cost, because to be adequately immune took three injections at a cost of $3-5 per each visit. The last major block to vaccination was the fear of shots.

Using teens themselves to help spread the word that their own peer group needed to be immunized was helpful. Public officials enlisted teen icons as a way to help. To that end, on this day Elvis Presley was vaccinated live on TV. He was in New York City to tape a guest appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, when he was approached by the New York City Health Department and they decided to launch a publicity stunt. It worked and the vaccination rate soared from 0.6% to over 80% in the next six months. While the event was only locally televised, it was covered in the national media which helped spread the word to even more of Elvis’s fan base.

Work on a better vaccine continued and in 1961, Albert Sabin’s attenuated (weakened) living virus oral vaccine came on the market. It was both cheaper to produce and easier to administer. In April 2012 the World Health Assembly declared it had completed the polio eradication program globally. The Americas were declared polio free in 1994 and the rest of the world joined in the hopeful status. Today, there are only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where there are still naturally spreading epidemics. These can, of course, then spread to neighboring regions via contagious transmission.

Childhood vaccines are one of the great triumphs of modern medicine. Indeed, parents whose children are vaccinated no longer have to worry about their child’s death or disability from whooping cough, polio, diphtheria, hepatitis, or a host of other infections. – Ezekiel Emanuel

Humans have always used our intelligence and creativity to improve our existence. After all, we invented the wheel, discovered how to make fire, invented the printing press and found a vaccine for polio. – Naveen Jain

When I was about 9, I had polio, and people were very frightened for their children, so you tended to be isolated. I was paralyzed for a while, so I watched television. – Francis Ford Coppola

Polio’s pretty special because once you get an eradication, you no longer have to spend money on it; it’s just there as a gift for the rest of time. – Bill Gates



October 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 27, 2017

1914: HMS Audacious sinks. She was the fourth and final King George V class dreadnaught, so named after the original battleship built to the newer specifications in 1906. The major improvements associated with the class of ships was an “all-big-gun” armament scheme and the steam turbine propulsion system. In July, the world was on edge as the outcome of the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand came to a head. World War I officially began on July 29. Audacious had taken part in a mobilization test even before the War began from July 17 to 20. When war broke out, the Home Fleet put the Grand Fleet, of which this ship was a part, under the command of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe.

Audacious was refitted during August and September and returned to duty in October. Now on the west coast of Scotland, the 2nd Battle Squadron left Tory Island, Ireland on this day for gunnery practice. As they sailed away, at 8.45 AM Audacious was rocked by an explosion. The captain believed it to be a German U-boat torpedo and ordered all other dreadnoughts to depart, as protocol demanded. The smaller ships remained to render assistance. However, Audacious had struck an underwater mine laid a few days earlier by the SS Berlin. The Audacious was struck from beneath about ten feet forward of the transverse bulkhead.

The ship began to list but with corrective measures this was partly corrected. The SOS message was received by RMS Olympic, sister to the Titanic, and she arrived on the scene. Audacious could make a speed of about 10 mph and the Captain hoped to be able to beach the ship on higher land 25 miles away. He had covered 15 miles before the engine rooms flooded and power ceased. By 2 PM, he ordered all non-essential crew to be taken off. The Olympic attempted to tow the ship, but lines fouled. Other smaller ships also tried to tow, but couldn’t. When it was finally realized the explosion was a mine, the other dreadnoughts returned and also tried to help to tow Audacious to safety.

By 5 PM, only the Captain and 50 men remained aboard, but towing was slow due to rough waters. As dark approached at 6.15 PM, all abandoned ship. At 8.45 PM, Audacious heeled sharply, paused briefly, and then capsized. She floated upside down for fifteen minutes before the first explosion. It is believed that high explosive shells fell from racks, ignited cordite in the magazine, and blew. A piece of armor plating flew 800 yards away from the wreckage and struck a petty officer aboard one of the recue ships. He was the only casualty of the day, besides the ship itself. Jellicoe demanded the sinking be covered up. But there were many Americans aboard the Olympic who had photographs of the sinking. The Royal Navy finally announced the loss of the ship on November 14, 1918 after the War ended.

H.M.S. Audacious sank after striking a mine off the North Irish coast on October 27, 1914.
This was kept secret at the urgent request of the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, and the Press loyally refrained from giving it any publicity. – Secretary of the Admiralty on November 14, 1918

You can bail water 24/7, and no matter how good you are at not sinking, you still have a hole in your boat. – Kelli Jae Baeli

When I lost my rifle, the Army charged me 85 dollars. That is why in the Navy the Captain goes down with the ship. – Dick Gregory

It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage. – George William Curtis



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October 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 26, 2017

1689: Fire sweeps through Skopje. Enea Silvio Piccolomini was an Italian nobleman born around 1640. His family had a history of serving with the Habsburg army and he was no exception, taking a position in Vienna. He led a campaign against the Ottomans in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Macedonia. Skopje is the present day capital of Macedonia. Vienna had been the subject of an Ottoman siege in 1683 and emperor Leopold I retaliated against the assailants with the resulting Great Turkish War. Piccolomini was attempting to conquer the Balkan states when he entered the city. There are conflicting stories as to what his motivation was.

Either the city was wracked by an outbreak of cholera and the disease was spreading rapidly or Piccolomini wanted to even the score for the siege against Vienna. He set the city on fire on this day. The city burned for two days, destroying all but a few stone-built structures. The fortress and some churches and mosques were made of stone and able to withstand, mostly intact. Before the fires were set, the city was home to about 60,000 people. After the devastation, only about 10,000 remained. The once thriving trading center was no longer able to provide that service and went into a steep decline, lasting for years.

Cholera is an infection of the small intestines which can lead to vomiting, muscle cramps, and most importantly severe diarrhea. The resulting dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can be treated with modern medicine. However, that was not the case in earlier times and the disease could lead to death. The disease is thought to have gotten its start in the Indian subcontinent and spread via trade routes. The disease spread overland and via ships. The sea routes were able to quarantine ships with the disease and help to slow the spread. Overland was not as easily contained. At the time of this incident cholera was a very deadly disease and Piccolomini succumbed to it soon after he razed the city.

There have been seven cholera pandemics in the past 200 years with the last originating in Indonesia in 1961. Today, with intravenous administration, electrolyte supplements, and antibiotics, the disease is not a threat in developed parts of the world. The same is not true in the developing countries and tens of millions have died of the disease since it became widespread in the late 19th century. In order to limit the affects of the disease, it is best to prevent the spread. This is done through proper sanitation practices including water treatment and proper treatment of sewage. Water purification systems help to remove the bacteria before ingestion, the best way to halt the disease.

Cholera is even more severe among populations who are immunologically naive. – Christy Turlington

When Peru had a cholera outbreak in 1991, losses from tourism and agricultural revenue were three times greater than the total money spent on sanitation in the previous decade. – Rose George

While eliminating smallpox and curtailing cholera added decades of life to vast populations, cures for the chronic diseases of old age cannot have the same effect on life expectancy. A cure for cancer would be miraculous and welcome, but it would lead to only a three-year increase in life expectancy at birth. – S. Jay Olshansky

The cholera had broken out at the post, and five or six men were dying daily. – Buffalo Bill



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October 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 25, 2017

1854: The Battle of Balaclava is fought. The Battle was part of the Crimean War, fought between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire with allied forces from France, Great Britain, and Sardinia. Ostensibly fought over the rights of Christians in the region, the churches themselves worked out the issues. Neither Nicholas I of Russia nor Emperor Napoleon III pulled back. The Siege of Sevastopol lasted for nearly a year, beginning on October 17, 1854 and ending in an Allied victory on September 9, 1855. This particular Battle was part of the siege of the Black Sea port.

The Allies first contact with the Russians led to a victory but they were slow to follow up on the win. This allowed the Russians to regroup and recover as well as prepare a defense for their Navy, housed in the port. The British under the command of Lord Raglan and the French under Canrobert decided to lay siege instead of engaging in outright battle. Some of their troops were housed on the southern port of Balaclava which led to committing troops to protecting their flank. Today’s battle began with Russian artillery and infantry attacks against the Allies first line of defense. The line fell and the Russians pushed forward.

The second line was held by both Ottomans and the British 93rd Highland Regiment. They became known as the Thin Red Line as they held their position. Lord Raglan sent a vaguely written order to the commander of what is today called the Light Brigade. Raglan had ordered them to protect the guns from the first line’s fall. But due to some miscommunication (which shall ever remain a mystery since the man delivering the message died within the first minutes of the attack) the Light Brigade was sent off on a frontal assault against a different artillery battery.

The men charged forward and eventually, after receiving extreme casualties, achieved their position. However, they were so badly decimated, they were forced to immediately retreat. Their charge has been forever memorialized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” which was published just six weeks after the disastrous event. The day ended without either side having a clear victory. Both sides incurred losses and casualties over 600. It would take nearly a year for Sevastopol to fall in an Allied victory with each side losing over 100,000 men to both war wounds and disease. Six months later the war would end. Overall the Allies had losses and casualties of nearly one-quarter million while Russia suffered over a half million casualties and losses. More than half of those who died, did not die of war wounds, but were brought down by disease.

All in the valley of Death / Rode the six hundred.

Theirs not to make reply, / Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die.

Cannon to right of them, / Cannon to left of them, / Cannon in front of them / Volleyed and thundered;

Into the mouth of hell / Rode the six hundred. – all from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” which can be found here in its entirety



October 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 24, 2017

1871: A mob enters Chinatown in Los Angeles. The attack was generally motivated by racial tensions in the region, targeting the immigrants from the Far East. There had been a longstanding feud between rival Chinese gangs or tongs. Yut Ho had been abducted and the two tongs were engaged in a shootout to settle the score. During the gunfight a local rancher, Robert Thompson, was killed in the crossfire. Since there was already racial discrimination in the region, it fired up a crowd who came en masse to the region in order to wage their own private non-sanctioned war.

There were over 500 people crowding into Calle de los Negros, which also had the local naming of Nigger Alley. It was a tough neighborhood just northeast of Los Angeles’s main business district. The unpaved street was named before California was a state and it had been occupied by dark-skinned Hispanics who were likely of mixed racial heritage including Native American and/or African-American strains. In earlier times, the neighborhood was more high end and home to prominent citizen of Los Angeles. But by the 1860s the area had greatly deteriorated into slums. It was at this point in history that it became one of Los Angeles’s first Chinatowns.

The angry mob entered the street and began destroying every Chinese owned home and business. The street was full of bars, gambling houses, dance halls, as well as more suitable business ventures. The Chinese were dragged from their homes and beaten and tortured. At least 18 Chinese immigrants were lynched as well. This was the largest mass lynching in American history. Animosity in California grew to such an extreme against the Chinese that in 1882, US President Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act into law which forbade any further Chinese immigration. It was the first law ever passed in the US to exclude a specific ethnic group from being admitted. It was to last ten years but was made permanent in 1902. It was finally rescinded in 1943.

The City of Los Angeles responded to this massacre by arresting only ten members of the mob. Eight were convicted but these convictions were overturned on a technicality. The eight men who served only a short time in San Quentin were: Esteban Alvarado, Charles Austin, Refugio Cotello, LF Crenshaw, AR Johnson, Jesus Martinez, Patrick McDonald, and Louis Medel. The East Coast papers were full of the horrific events and appalled by the crimes as well as the legal system’s response. They began to refer to Los Angeles as a “blood stained Eden”.

Defeating racism, tribalism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike. – Ban Ki-moon

The greatest problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other. – Princess Diana

Discrimination is not liberal. Arguing against discrimination is not intolerance. – Richard Dawkins

Intolerance is evidence of impotence. – Aleister Crowley



October 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2017

42 BC: Marcus Junius Brutus (the Younger) commits suicide. Brutus had initially supported Julius Caesar but after assuming power and trying to gain even greater control, Brutus and his compatriots plotted to kill Caesar, and managed to do so in 44 BC. He and his partners thought of themselves as Liberators but immediately came into conflict with the supporters of Caesar, Marc Antony and Octavian. A Civil War ensued which culminated in the Battle of Philippi in Macedonia. The Second Triumvirate with Octavian and Antony faced Brutus’s forces on this day.

Earlier in the month, Antony had faced Cassius in the south while Octavian and Brutus clashed in the northern part of the island. After receiving the misinformation that Brutus’s forces had been defeated, Cassius committed suicide. His was the most severe loss of the day and otherwise the battles were a draw. Both sides disengaged and readied themselves for another meeting. That battle took place on this day after Octavian and Antony had been able to gather both their armies together and Brutus had been able to coalesce his own forces. The Triumvirate had 19 legions and 33,000 cavalry or over 100,000 men and up to 223,000 troops if auxiliary numbers were in line with legionary numbers. The Liberators had 17 legions and 17,000 cavalry or 100,000 men or 187,000 total troops – again that is if auxiliary numbers matched.

Brutus was not the same leader as Cassius had been and had to offer his men an extra 1,000 denarii for them to stay and fight. In the weeks between battles, Antony and Octavian had slowly moved their troops to attack Brutus, who still held higher ground. However, holding this position left him in danger of being surrounded by opposing troops. The combatants met in mostly hand to hand combat and little use of missiles was needed because of such close quarters. The body count for the day’s match was not given, but due to the type of fighting, it was probably high. Brutus lost the day and the war and so, committed suicide by running into his sword as it was held by two men.

His army was surrendered to Antony and Octavian. Antony, in a show of respect, covered Brutus’s body with his best purple cloak. The cloak was stolen and eventually the miscreant was captured and killed. Brutus’s body was cremated and the ashes sent back to his wife. The end of this battle marked the height of Antony’s own fame as a general, a leader, and a man of power. He would go on to make some of his own mistakes, leading to his own downfall dying twelve years later.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. – Julius Caesar

An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason. – Publilius Syrus

Young men, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young. – Augustus



October 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2017

1877: Blantyre, Scotland is the site of Scotland’s worst mining disaster. Blantyre is found in South Lanarkshire and today, has a population of around 17,000. First settled during the bronze age, the region was found to be a repository for coal earlier in the decade. The coalfield had three seams of different size located at three separate depths. The ell seam was the thickest and most shallow at 704 feet. The main coal seam was both middle in size and depth and located 774 feet below ground, and the splint coal seam was the deepest at 930 feet. There were five shafts at the colliery. Shafts 1, 3, and 4 were 24 feet by 8 feet with the first leading to the ell and main seams while 3 and 4 served the splint seam. No. 2 shaft was 16 by 8 feet and worked the splint coal while No. 5 was 10 feet in diameter and used as ventilation for numbers 1, 2, and 3.

At 4.40 AM on this day, the mine was inspected and all seemed to be going normally in pit number 2. At 5.50 AM, the day’s work crew started to descend and as they went down, the firemen (inspectors) were coming up and assured everyone all was well. At 9 AM, a blast was heard on the surface and flame and steam rushed through number 3 pit for a few minutes. Smoke rose from the ventilation shaft. The Inspector of the Mines and the Assistant Inspector were called to the scene by telegraph and arrived around noon.

Number 3 pit was blocked by debris which had fallen during the explosion. The cages and ropes had been damaged in the blast making normal descent impossible. A makeshift large bucket was put together and descent was attempted. The sounds of air moving was noted. Pit number 2 was basically undamaged. A temporary shaft was built to help ventilate the damaged pit and with that, it became possible to find the place of the blast. Four survivors were found, but one died shortly thereafter. The others died within weeks. Everyone else was killed during the blast itself, a total of 207.

The following day, recovery of the bodies began. An investigation into the cause of the blast found that a naked flame ignited firedamp, flammable gases found in coal mines. Usually, methane, it is found in bituminous coal sites and can accumulate in pockets. The miners were using “gauze lamps” a type of safety lamp designed for this sort of mining. They were not Davy lamps, as the report noted. They were not supposed to ignite the dust or gases, but since they were larger, when something went wrong, the ensuing blast was even bigger. The youngest person killed in the blast was a child of 11 and the disaster left 92 widows and 250 fatherless children in its wake. This was neither the first nor last mining disaster at this particular mine.

The coal mining industry is very destructive and it doesn’t have to be. – Kevin Richardson

Coal mining is tough. Acting is just tedious. – Johnny Knoxville

The extraction of oil, coal and minerals brought, and still brings, a cost to the environment. – Bono

Football is a game designed to keep coal miners off the streets. – Jimmy Breslin