Whitman Mine Explosion, November 3, 1931

Whitman Mine Explosion

SEARCHERS FIND THIRD VICTIM OF LOGAN MINE BLAST.
EXPLOSION TRAPPED FIVE MEN IN ISLAND CREEK COMPANY WHITMAN MINE.
HOPE IS ABANDONED FOR TWO MISSING WORKERS.
MEN CAUGHT IN ABANDONED SECTION OF WORKINGS; 241 MINERS AT WORK IN MINE AT TIME OF BLAST; DEBRIS HAMPERS PROGRESS OF RESCUERS.

Logan, W. Va., Nov. 3. (AP) — With bodies of three miners recovered, rescue crews tonight pushed ahead in their search for two other men missing following an explosion in a temporarily abandoned section of Island Creek Coal company, Whitman Mine No. 20.
The bodies discovered were those of WILLIAM DINGESS, 48, father of nine children; DAVID AMOS, 36, father of four children, and ALONZO NAPLER, 29, father of six children. All were timbermen.

Virtually all hope was abandoned by rescue crews for the recovery alive of the two missing men, CHARLES FRYE, 31, fire boss, and JAMES HOBBS, 33, timberman.
The men were retimbering the unused section of the mine when, rescue workers believed, a slatefall occurred, breaking an electric wire and liberating a quantity of gas which was ignited by a spark from the wire. Rockdust in the mine, R. M. Lambie, chief of the state department of mines said at Charleston, prevented the explosion from spreading through the mine which extends underground for several miles from the foot of a 250-foot shaft.
Dust flying through the air gave warning to 241 other miners that an explosion had occurred some place in the workings and they hurried from the mine uninjured. One man was injured slightly when he was blown against a trap-door by the force of the blast. He had been working near the explosion area.

Rescue crews working under the direction of J. F. White, state mine inspector, and H. P. Farley, district safety director for the department of mines, located two of the bodies, those of DINGESS and AMOS, about two miles from the foot of the shaft where they had been engaged in retimbering. Several hours later after groping their way through thick fog composed of rockdust, coal particles and smoke, they found the third body, NAPLER, near the spot where the others had been located.

With the recovery of NAPLER’S body, a slight hope that he and the two other missing men might have escaped injury in the explosion and barricaded themselves in a mine room to keep out gas and smoke, was abandoned. Rescue workers, describing the conditions in the explosion area, said that although dust was so thick that it was “almost impossible to tell a man from a lump of coal.”

*Bluefield Daily Telegraph West Virginia 1931-11-04

Source: www3.gendiasters.com
Link supplied by Lana Guiler. William Dingess was her grandfather.

*James Hobbs is buried in the Whitman Cemetery (information courtesy of Bob Piros). A link to his headstone and death certificate at FindAGrave.com is here.


Whitman Mine No. 20 courtesy of Toby Sabo.

Island Creek Mine No. 20, Whitman, WV courtesy of Toby Sabo.

Whitman Mine No. 20 courtesy of Toby Sabo.

Island Creek Mine No. 20, Whitman, WV courtesy of Toby Sabo.

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3 Responses to Whitman Mine Explosion, November 3, 1931

  1. JT says:

    One of my Mom’s side of the family 8th Cousin 1x removed John Everett VanBuskirk worked as a Coal Miner there back in 1930’s – 1940’s.

  2. Ralph Evans (little ralph) says:

    I believe this mine was where National Armature now sits. They filled the elevator shaft within the last (ten) yrs. to expand Nat. Arm. I have another picture of this mine and a picture of the tipple at Kirby camp where Kendall Dingess now lives. I cherish Whitman and would like to see more pictures like these on here.

  3. Margaret Burton says:

    Who was the superintendent of this mine ?

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