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 Post subject: On this date in 1894, 13 men died in Gaylord, Plymouth, mine
PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:04 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:16 pm
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Location: Anthracite Region of PA
On this date in 1894, 13 men died in Gaylord, Plymouth, mine cave
By Stephen Kondrad (Guest Writer)Published: February 13, 2012

The town of Plymouth was no stranger to mining disasters. The Avondale Mine Disaster, September 6, 1869 resulted in the single greatest loss of life in any anthracite mine disaster, in America. Twenty five years later, on February 13, 1894 thirteen miners lost their lives in the mine chambers, deep below the Gaylord Shaft.

The Gaylord Colliery was located in Plymouth, between Cherry Street and Washington Avenue.

The Gaylord Mine was operated by the Kingston Coal Company.

At the time of the disaster, the coal company was in the process of re-opening old workings, at the Gaylord.

Before mining ceased in these veins several years prior, it was standard practice for miners to "rob the coal pillars."

As coal was mined, massive pillars of coal were left standing to help support the roof. After all coal was mined from a section, some or all of these pillars of coal were removed "robbed" and replaced with wooden timbers, known as props. The coal company would then begin mining in different locations.

When the Kingston Coal Company decided to re-open the deep mines at the Gaylord, they knew that several coal veins had been robbed. They sent mining experts to check on the condition of the mine chambers.

Their report stated that areas of rock falls from roof collapses were noticed. But, the mine was safe to be worked. Some experienced miners felt that the mine was unsafe and they refused to work their shift.

During the morning hours of February 13, 1894, a group of 12 miners, led by foreman Thomas H. Picton were attempting to support the roof of a mine chamber in the Bennett Vein with wooden timbers.

Suddenly, without warning, a massive cave-in occurred. All 13 men perished, under tons of rock. The cave-in was so violent that some miners were literally surrounded by rocks as they ran for safety.

The news of the disaster was devastating to their families and the entire community. Rescue and recovery efforts began as soon as possible. It was estimated that 400 feet of rock separated the caved-in areas from the open chamber. It took nearly two months to recover all 13 bodies of the disaster victims. The last body to be recovered, on April 9, was that of underground Foreman Thomas Picton.

Six victims of the Gaylord Mine Disaster rest at Plymouth's Shawnee Cemetery. They are: Thomas Herbert Picton, Thomas Cole, Thomas Leyshon, Thomas Merriman, John D. Morris and Daniel Morgan.

Seven victims rest in other local cemeteries. They are: Peter McLaughlin, Joseph Olds, John Hammer, Michael Walsh, Thomas J. Jones, Richard Davis and James Kingdom.

The Gaylord Mine Disaster is mostly forgotten. But, the lasting effects of the loss of 13 men will survive forever. Although, no formal memorial service are planned, let's take a moment to remember the brave miners who lost their lives, on that February day, so long ago.

Stephen Kondrad is a member of the Plymouth Historical Society and the Shawnee Cemetery Preservation Association

Scott K
"Watch Your Top"

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