Coal Miners – The Heroes of Appalachia
The job of a underground coal miner has always been hard and dangerous. It was especially so during the early years of coal mining. Every working day coal miners risked their lives to provide for their families. That’s why they’re heroes.
Those of us that grew up in Appalachia during the 1940s, 50s and 60s and were the sons and daughters of coal miners will always remember how afraid we were for our fathers.
On Friday December 6, 1907 an explosion at the Number 8 mine at Monongah, WV killed over 360 coal miners. That’s why December 6th was selected as National Miners Day. It was this tragedy that also gave birth to Father’s Day.
The 2nd worse WV mine disaster was on April 29, 1914 at Eccles, WV where 183 were killed.
“The deadliest year in U.S. coal mining history was 1907, when an estimated 3,242 deaths occurred. While annual coal mining deaths numbered more than 1,000 a year in the early part of the 20th century, they decreased to an average of about 451 annual fatalities in the 1950s, and to 141 in the 1970s. From 2006-2010, the yearly average number of fatalities in coal mining decreased to 35.”
Getting killed on the job wasn’t the only occupational hazard of coal miners. If they managed to survive a couple decades or so working underground, many had their lives cut short by black lung and other lung diseases related to their occupation. This is the price they paid to provide for their families.
“Coal: An Appalachian Treasure” by Clara Maynard. – A video essay by a Marshall University student about coal mining and her Dehue, coal-miner grandfather.
Anyone who wants to add a photo of a coal miner to this gallery that died in the mines or from black lung is more than welcome to do so. To share a photo, please email it to the admin at email@example.com. Please note that you must own the photo you are submitting or ensure that no one has a copyright claim on it. If a photo owned by you appears on this website and you do not want it here, please notify the admin for its immediate removal.
Coal Miner Photo Gallery
*Header image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
 Source: United States Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration
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