Mining has always been a very dangerous occupation and Kentucky appears to have been particularly hard hit with mining disasters. The following newspaper articles record the often-deadly accounts of some of these events.
From the 1 December 1910 issue of the Crittenden Record-Press, we learn that two men died in a mine owned by the Bell Coke & Coal Mining Company mine, located about a mile from the Tradewater River, in an isolated spot in the hills of the northern part of the county.
“The first intimation neighbors had that anything had happened was shortly before midnight by the shaking of houses and rattling of windows. The machinery at the Bell mine was being run at night in order to pummp waters out of the shaft. The men in charge were J.T. Glifford and Charles Travis. When last seen by the other men, they were alive and well, but when the men rushed to the mine after the explosion they found only mangled pieces of human beings.”
“The big boiler had exploded with terrible force, wrecking the building and hurling the men high into the air and mangling them almost beyond recognition.”
Charles Travis was a brother of E. Jeffrey Travis, county school superintendent. Glifford was from St. Joseph, Missouri.
Two years later, on Tuesday, 23 April 1912, the Henderson Twice-A-Week Gleaner reported that a terrific explosion occurred two nights previously in the Coll mine near Madisonville. The explosion caused the death of Wm. Hughes, who was blown out of the shaft quite a distance, and probably killed James Hollowell, and three other men. It was thought that the explosion was the result of gas accumulation in the mine. The odor of burning gas was coming from the mine.
In 1924, mining conditions were still dangerous. The 15 February 1924 issue of the Crittenden Press reported that two persons, Allie Crider and Ewell Cruce, were seriously injured by a premature blast at the Lafayette mine near Mexico, Crittenden County on Thursday, 7 February.
Allie Crider, 23 years old, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Davis Crider, who resided near Crayne. He suffered broken arms, a large hole through a thigh, deep cuts and bruises on all part of his body.
Ewell Cruce, age 21, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Cruce of Emmaus in Crittenden County, suffered a deep wound in the head and serious cuts.
Both men were employees of the Lafayette Flourspar Company, owners and operators of the Lafayette Mine. At the time of the accident, the two men were at work about 140 feet underground. While they were about to set off a shot, the blast exploded prematurely. Both men were placed on the evening train for treatment in Evansville, Indiana.