#AtoZ 1968 – “F” is for the Farmington Mine Disaster

“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

Farmington
Farmington Disaster historical marker

Early in the morning of November 20, 1968, an explosion occurred in the Consol No. 9 Mine in Farmington, West Virginia. There were 99 miners in the mine when the explosion occurred, 78 of whom died as a result of the explosion. The other 21 miners survived the explosion and escaped to the surface.

Fires in the mine, along with several additional major and minor underground explosions, interfered with and eventually prevented rescue and recovery efforts. The mine was sealed at its surface openings on November 30.

In September 1969, the mine was reopened and operations to recover the remains of the 78 miners were begun and continued until April 1978. Damage to the mine in the explosion area was extensive, requiring loading of rock falls, replacement of ventilation and transportation facilities, and in some cases new mine entries to bypass extensively caved areas. Between 1969 and 1978, the bodies of 59 victims were recovered and brought to the surface.

(Wikipedia and United States Mine Rescue Association)

A to Z badge 2

BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #66 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 for 1968 – “Delilah” by Tom Jones

13 thoughts on “#AtoZ 1968 – “F” is for the Farmington Mine Disaster

  1. What a terrible tragedy. I would like to think that some good came from it in the form of safety regulations, but I have a feeling conditions still need to be improved.

  2. Hi Martha – mine accidents are awful aren’t they … Farmington completely changes the town and area – as everyone adjusts to the disaster. Cathy’s comment brought the account to life … desperate to read about – Hilary

  3. Lots of people do many dangerous jobs to bring things to people’s home; energy, fish/ farming, chemistry and such. Sometimes we forget there are people on the other end of these services.

  4. Martha,

    I grew up in southern WV. Farmington is far from my grassroots in McDowell County. My daddy was a miner, my grandpa, my uncles, late father-in-law, and on and on. Mining is a way of life for those folks and it’s very scary work. I remember visiting the tipple where Daddy worked. On the side of the mountain was the mouth of the mines. I watched low rise carts drive into the dark abyss as a wave of claustrophobia washed over me. There was no way I’d go in such a place. I heard about the horrors many miners met. I recall a boy in my 4th-grade class who got pulled from class when his dad was killed in the mines. It seems like a rock fell on him but that’s been too many years ago for me to remember with a degree of accuracy. Tragedies like the one in Farmington is horrible and I’m glad things are different now. They have more safety protocols in place today, hopefully keeping more miners alive. My daddy had to retire in the mid-70s because he has black lung. He’ll be 81 in July. I often worry about him because this disease makes him susceptible to catching bronchitis, pneumonia, and other lung inflammations. Thanks for the interesting subject for the letter ‘F’.

    A2Z Creating iPad Art Sketches ‘Fairy’

    1. Oh Cathy. You’ve made this post so real. Thank you for letting me (and anyone else who reads this) know about the very real dangers that existed, and, I imagine, still exist to some degree in the mining industry. I’m very sorry about your dad, and wish him peace. ❤

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