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Avondale: The disaster that changed everything about anthracite mining

PLYMOUTH — Most of the coal mines that after dotted Northeastern Pennsylvania’s landscape are extended gone, leaving us with only memories of the hardworking males that toiled underground.

A single of the most unpleasant memories is that of the Avondale Mine Disaster, which Sept. six marks the 150th anniversary of the loss of 110 males and boys — the single highest quantity of lives lost in an anthracite mine disaster in American history.

Steve Kondrad and his wife, Mary Beth McMonigal Kondrad, know “The Avondale” nicely and they have knowledgeable its tragic final results personally.

Mary Beth’s second fantastic-grandfather, John D Evans, perished in the course of the disaster. He left behind his wife Mary and 5 young children. John D. Evans rests amongst his fellow Avondale miners at the Washburn Street Cemetery, Hyde Park, Scranton.

”Preserving the history and heritage of our anthracite coal miners is of utmost value,” Kondrad mentioned. “The sacrifices they created, operating extended hours in particularly risky operating circumstances, to deliver for their households should really by no means be forgotten.”

Kondrad mentioned commemoration ceremonies will be held for the 150th anniversary of the disaster. A roll get in touch with of all victims will be study aloud in the Washburn Street Cemetery and at the mine website in Plymouth Township. As soon as once more their names will be heard amongst the living.

Kondrad, who heads the Plymouth Historical Society, mentioned the Avondale Mine Disaster was a milestone occasion in anthracite mining history in America.

Kondrad notes that simply because of the terrible loss of life at Avondale, the initially mine security legislation laws have been passed in May well of 1870.

From that point on, all newly constructed coal breaker buildings had to be constructed a protected distance away from the mine opening. Also, all mines have to have at least two indicates of exit and be ventilated by an external ventilation fan.

Luzerne County Council has proclaimed Sept. six, 2019, as “Avondale Day in Luzerne County.”

Sept. six, 1869

The fantastic disaster at Avondale occurred on Monday morning, Sept. six, 1869. The mine, which was operated by the Delaware Lackawanna &amp Western Rail Road, was situated in Plymouth Township, under Avondale Hill.

The summer season of 1869 saw a lengthily and typically bitter strike by nearby miners. By the time August rolled about, the miners’ households have been in a desperate circumstance. Several households have been close to starvation.

Separate negotiations involving representatives for the miners and mine owners have been performed all through towns in northeastern Pennsylvania. On Aug. 26, 1869, miners in the Hyde Park section of Scranton voted to accept the mine owner’s terms and to return to function. This agreement with the miners from Hyde Park, who have been predominately of Welsh decent, raised tensions involving other ethnic groups, specifically Irish mine laborers, who wanted to continue the strike.

As a outcome of “The Scranton agreement,” the DL&ampW announced a firm-wide startup of all their mines for Sept. two. Considering the fact that their Sloan Colliery in Scranton lately closed, the firm supplied males function at their Avondale Colliery. Miners have been offered totally free rail transportation to and from Avondale, even though other individuals from Hyde Park boarded with mates or household who lived close to the colliery.

On Monday Sept. six, 1869, the absolute worst worry of each and every miner’s household occurred. The wooden coal breaker, which was situated straight above the one particular and only mine shaft, caught fire. As the fire raged by means of the wooden creating, their loved ones have been trapped more than 240 feet under in the mine.

As quickly as word had spread about the fire at Avondale, a panic stricken crowd hurried to the mine website. Under ground, the miners did their really most effective to attempt to wait out the fire. They created their way to the farthest points in the mine chambers, away from the shaft and constructed a barricade, to conserve valuable very good air. However, the fire above sooner or later filled the complete mine with deadly gases. The trapped miners had no likelihood for survival.

When the fire was ultimately extinguished, David Jones and Thomas Williams volunteered to descend the mine shaft to search for the trapped miners. When they did not signal to be brought to the surface, other volunteers went down to verify on them.

Each Jones and Williams have been discovered overcome by deadly carbon monoxide. They sacrificed their lives in that noble rescue work. Later, when news spread that David and Thomas perished, worry turned to horror. The following day, a significant steam driven fan was made use of to circulate fresh air all through the mine. As air in the mine started to clear, rescue efforts turned to recovery.

Ultimately, all 108 victims have been brought to the surface. Newspaper accounts described the horrid spectacle. The news of this terrible tragedy circulated all through the planet. Considering the fact that 69 of the 108 miners have been Welsh, the news of the disaster struck lots of households and mining communities in Wales. The Avondale Disaster was identified as the Welsh Tragedy.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania, complete communities have been grief stricken. On Sept. eight, the mayor of Scranton requested that citizens of Scranton should really close their areas of small business and maintain them closed till the Avondale victims have been buried. Related acts of respect have been carried out all through the area.

On Sept. 9 and 10, 61 victims have been buried at the Washburn Street Cemetery, Hyde Park section of Scranton. A quantity of victims have been buried side by side at Shupp’s Cemetery in Larksville. Eight Catholic victims have been buried at the Darling Street Cemetery, Wilkes-Barre. The remainder of victims have been buried at cemeteries in Forty Fort, Hanover Green, Pittston, Harveys Lake and Tamaqua.

Soon after a great deal deliberation, the official coroner’s inquest discovered that the fire was brought on by stray embers from the underground ventilation furnace which ignited wooden planking close to the major of the mine shaft. The verdict was and nevertheless is controversial, as arson was a really feasible possibility.

150th Commemorative Memorial

Friday, Sept. six

six:30 pm, Anthracite Heritage Museum

Anthracite Coal Breakers of the Avondale Era: An Overview of the Early Stereo-graphic Record.

Richard Healey, Professor Emeritus, University of Portsmouth, UK,

Saturday, Sept. 7

9:30 a.m., Anthracite Heritage Museum

The Welsh of Scranton in the course of the 1860s and 1870s.

11:30 a.m., Washburn Street Cemetery (If inclement climate, the Anthracite Heritage Museum)

Tribute to the Avondale Mine Disaster Victims

(Transportation&amp Lunch out there)

1:30 to three p.m., Anthracite Heritage Museum

Avondale Disaster, An Overview Panel Discussion

three:15 to four:45 p.m.,Anthracite Heritage Museum

Remembering the Avondale Disaster

six p.m., Anthracite Heritage Museum

Pennsylvania Labor History Society Annual Dinner and Awards Plan

Sunday, Sept. eight

10 a.m., Initially Welsh Baptist Church Plymouth

Noon, Avondale Website

150th Commemorative Memorial of the Avondale Mine Disaster

Presented by the Plymouth Historical Society.

The Avondale Coal Breaker in 1868 destroyed by fire Sept. six, 1869.

An artist’s rendering of the crowd that gathered on Sept. six, 1869, at the website of the Avondale mine fire that claimed the lives of 108 miners.

The Avondale Mine Memorial Garden website.

The Avondale Mine Memorial Garden.

Avondale Mine Shaft No. 1.

The Avondale Coal Breaker in 1868 destroyed by fire Sept. six, 1869.

An artist’s rendering of the crowd that gathered on Sept. six, 1869, at the website of the Avondale mine fire that claimed the lives of 108 miners.

The Avondale Mine Memorial Garden.

150 years ago, the Avondale disaster changed almost everything about anthracite mining


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