100 Years Ago Today: Cincinnati Mine Disaster – Day 2

The following article is from the April 24, 1913 edition of The Daily Republican. The lead story was about the huge explosion at the Cincinnati Mine in Courtney PA, just 2 miles from Monongahela. I didn’t have time to transcribe this article but the image should be pretty easy to read:Cincinnati_Mine_Disaster_Daily_Republican_4_24_1913

Cincinnati Mine Disaster – 100 Years Ago Today. Daily Republican Article.

Waiting for news at the Cincinnati Mine, Courtney PA

One hundred years ago today a terrible explosion occurred at the Cincinnati Mine in Courtney about one mile down river from Monongahela PA. Ninety-seven men died and many were injured. Below is an account of the accident which appeared in the April 23, 2013, edition of Monongahela’s newspaper, the Daily Republican.


A terrific explosion occurred in the Cincinnati mine about one o’clock today and it is feared many men are killed. The

Cincinnati Mine Disaster Article - from The Daily Republican, April 23, 1913 (click to view full size)
Cincinnati Mine Disaster Article – from The Daily Republican, April 23, 1913 (click to view full size)

explosion occurred on the main entry between the pit mouth and the Mingo school house. About 250 men are at work and grave fears are entertained for the safety of many. A call for assistance has been sent to many of the mines in this vicinity and they are hurrying to the scene of the explosion. A report says that six men escaped through the opening near the Mingo school house. One dead man has been brought to the pit mouth and the rescue party who are now at work have discovered many other bodies. The fans have been started, and the relief parties have been able to get as far as the parting.

George Cursan, who lives in Lin Alley, was one of the men who escaped. He states that his father also is safe, but he thinks Merle Brewer a boarder is among the dead. George Herron who boards with Mrs. Hastings in Railroad Street is also thought to be among the dead. He says that about twenty men escaped with him, and that the force of the explosion was terrible. The interior of the workings are wrecked, and of rescue will be retarded.

Large crowds are congregated about the mine openings, and many pathetic scenes are in evidence, many women and children being among the number who are anxious about a loved one who is probably lost. Many went from this city in automobiles, and other conveyances.

The explosion seems to have occurred on the main entry, and it may be that it will not extend to the workings. This however, is only conjectured as it is impossible at this time to get any definite information.

You can tell that when the article was written many details were still unknown. I wonder if the article was rushed to press — note the poor typesetting of the headline. I will publish other articles which appeared in the Daily Republican over the next several days so check back tomorrow for more!

Cincinnati Mine Disaster Historical Marker On Rt 88

There is a little historical plaque on rt 88 commemorating the Cincinnati Mine disaster of 1913:

Cincinnati Mine Disaster Plaque
Cincinnati Mine Disaster Plaque

It marks what was known as the Mule entrance to the mine, not far from Finleyville on rt 88:

Location of Cincinnati Mine disaster historical marker near Finleyville PA

This used to be an attractive spot along route 88. As I remember there were four mature weeping willow trees that stood in a row on a flat grassy area where the parking lot now is. The trees were cut down when the cement block building with junk all around it was built. I still wonder who planted those trees. Could it have been somebody who lost a relative in the explosion? Perhaps the person living in the house next door?  This is all that is left to commemorate those 97 men who lost their lives that day. But kudos to Peters Creek Historical Society for the historical marker.

Cincinnati Mine Disaster Historical Plaque
Cincinnati Mine Disaster Historical Plaque

You can read more about the history of the Cincinnati Mine and learn about the explosion at the Virtual Museum Of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania

Also, on Thursday, February 28, 2013, Scott Frederick will give a presentation about the Cincinnati Mine disaster in the parlor of the First Presbyterian Church in Monongahela at 7 p.m. Mr. Frederick taught World Cultures, American History and Honors American History at Ringgold High School for 36 years.

Historical Society Meeting Speaker Scott Frederick Discusses Courtney PA Mine Disaster of 1913

Young girl awaits news at the Cincinnati Mine entrance, Courtney PA April 1913

“PITTSBURGH, Pa., April 23.—There are 120 known dead and 100 are believed to be entombed* tonight in the Cincinnati mine of the Pittsburgh Coal Company at Courtney, three miles from Monongahela, where an explosion of gas occurred shortly after 1 o’clock this afternoon. Faint tappings against pipes and debris in the mine are plainly heard by a frantic crowd of men, women and children outside the mine.”

“Seventy miners staggered over bodies and debris and into the fading sunlight shortly after 5 o’clock. Some managed to get out unassisted; others were carried out. Every possible effort was made tonight to reach those who are entombed. The Courtney entrance is clogged up with debris, and behind this it is believed that there are scores of men who will die unless help reaches them within a few hours. At present there is no way of sending them water or of giving them air. The tapping is continued, and is evidently being made by many men. The crying and shouting is growing fainter.” – Philadelphia Enquirer April 1913

Hear more about the story on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at the next meeting of the Monongahela Area Historical Society in the parlor of the First Presbyterian Church at 7 PM. The speaker will be Scott Frederick, who taught at Ringgold High School for 36 years. He taught World Cultures and American History and Honors American History. His subject will be the Cincinnati Mine Disaster which occurred on April 23, 1913. The disaster was one of the worst in U.S. history. Most of the victims were from the Monongahela area.

Do you have relatives who were affected by the disaster? Feel free to leave a comment below.

*later reports confirmed that 97 people died