REPORT ON THE CHERRY MINE DISASTER.
BY THOMAS HUDSON, STATE INSPECTOR OF MINES, SECOND DISTRICT, GALVA, ILL.
From the most reliable reports to be obtained at the mine, the fire commenced at or about 1:30 p. m., on Saturday, November 13, 1909. The place
where the fire started, was at, or quite near the landing place, in the airshaft,
at the second vein, where the coal from the third vein is hoisted through said
airshaft and taken off the cage at the second vein, and hauled around to
the main shaft, recaged and hoisted to the surface.
The cause of the fire, from information gleaned at the mine, was, a pit car,
containing five or six bales of hay, intended for the third vein was sent
down the main shaft, and hauled around in the second vein to the air shaft
landing above mentioned. This pit car, containing the hay, was placed near,
probably directly under a blazing open torch, placed there to give light to
the cagers, consisting of two men and a boy. The oil burned in this torch
was quite likely kerosene, it is also very possible that some of the oil dripped
from the torch and fell on the hay in the pit car, at all events, the hay is
supposed to have caught fire from the torch, and certainly could have been
easily extinguished, if immediate steps had been taken to do so. The car
of burning hay, however, seems to have been pushed around from one position to another in an air current having a velocity of about 700 feet per
minute, until it had fired the overhead timbers. The car containing the
burning hay, was finally pushed into the shaft opening, and fell into the
"sump" at the third vein, where it was quickly extinguished; but the heavy
pine overhead timbers at the second vein were by this time on fire, and
could not be reached because of the dense smoke; by this time the control of
the fire was lost, and the result was the worst mine disaster of modern
. . .
In regard to the number of men lost, and number of bodies recovered, the following statement was received from an official of the St. Paul Coal Company . . . .
Total number believed to be lost 268
Total number of bodies recovered from second vein 187
Total number of bodies recovered from third vein 51
Lost, by burning, on the cage 12
Thought to be lost in the mine but found later alive and working at other parts
of the State 11
Still missing, but whether in the mine or gone to parts unknown,
cannot at this time be determined 6
(From STATE OF ILLINOIS, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report on The Cherry Mine Disaster, ILLINOIS STATE JOURNAL Co., STATE PRINTERS,1910)
Read Testimony from Albert Buckle
, age 16 and John Stuckert
, a miner and union official
Read Cherry Relief Commission's pension plan
for widows and surviving families