The Darr Mine Disaster of December 1907

The Darr Mine is third largest of the lethal mine disasters in America and one of the five disasters of December 1907.

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The Darr Mine is the third-largest lethal mine disaster in America. In December 1907 there would be five mine disasters that would lead to the path of the Health and Safety regulations that we have to this day. This will be our last video and post about the Bloody December 1907 mine disasters for the time being. We may come back at a later time to cover Yolande and Bernal.

Deadly Common Ground of the 5 Disasters

Pittsburgh Newspaper front page article.  Date and newspaper unknown.
Pittsburgh Newspaper front-page article. Date and newspaper unknown.

There was an overwhelming commonality between all five mine disasters that December. There were three other mine disasters earlier that month. Naomi Mine took 34 victims on December 1st. The Monongah Mine took 362 victims on December 6th. Then Yolande mine in Alabama took the lives of 57 men. After Darr, the last of the disasters would be Bernal which would take the lives of 11 men.

Poor ventilation, management neglect, in some cases there was criminal neglect, coal dust was allowed to accumulate inside of the mines, and all of the mines had a high concentration of firedamp. This led to the deadly combination that would take over 700 lives that month.

Darr Mine

The Morning Herald Friday, December 10, 1907
The Morning Herald Friday, December 10, 1907

The Darr Mine was owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Coal Company who was a division of Consolidation Coal Company. Darr was located near Smithton in a town named Van Meter, Pennsylvania. The employees that were made up of the company included immigrants that were Russians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Germans, Polish, Italians, Austrians, and Americans.

This particular mine disaster has an interesting footnote to it. December 19th is also in the Orthodox Christian Julian Calendar, the Feast of St. Nicholas. Many of the regular miners were not present at work that day but were instead at the church observing the holiday. The Divine Liturgy was being held at the Jacobs Creek Carpathian-Russian Orthodox Church. Many of the miners who were attending this service did so against company policy.


Pittsburgh Newspaper front page article.  Date and newspaper unknown.
Pittsburgh Newspaper front-page article. Date and newspaper unknown.

Between 11:15 and 11:30 a.m. on the morning of December 19, 1907, an explosion rocked the Van Meter and Jacob’s Creek, Pennsylvania. communities. Two hundred and thirty-nine miners lost their lives in the blast. Only one miner lived to make it to the surface.

The ventilation stoppings for the mine were blown away but the ventilation fan was intact. By December 27th, the bodies of two hundred and twenty men were recovered. The remaining men were buried under the roof fall and other debris. They were recovered at a later date.

Possible Causes

Darr Mine Memorial Marker.  The date and photographer are unknown
Darr Mine Memorial Marker. The date and photographer are unknown

According to a source a fireboss had roped off an area the previous day due to the build-up of firedamp. The miners at that time had open flame lamps on their helmets to light the mine. The open flame and the build-up of flammable gases led to a deadly combination. As well as the usage of open-flamed helmets was of common use at that time and was not considered to be a danger in the mines. This view would change after the Darr mine explosion.

This conclusion was not agreed upon by all of the inspectors. The exact location of the point of the explosion could not be determined. The Pittsburgh Coal Company was found not to be at fault for the explosion by the inquiry.

Ventilation Stopping

Unknown miner doing maintenance on a Ventilation Stopping. The date and the photographer is also unknown

Ventilation stoppings are put into place to help direct airflow through the mines. This is to help stop the accumulation of deadly gases such as firedamp. In 1907, these stoppings were made from brick. New regulations would be put into action requiring all underground mining operations to make regular checks and maintenance on these stoppings to ensure air quality.

In Memory

Darr Mine Memorial Marker.  The date and photographer are unknown
Darr Mine Memorial Marker. The date and photographer are unknown

We would like to take a moment and remember all of those who lost their lives. When it comes to mine disasters and strikes, they are historical events but we would also like to remember that there were real people involved in these events. May their families find peace and those that lost their lives rest in peace as their memories are always a blessing to us all.

The list of the 5 deadly mine disasters of December 1907

Naomi Mine Explosion at Fayette City, Pennsylvania, December 1st
Monongah Number 6 and Number 8 Mines at Monongah, West Virginia, December 6th
Yolande Mine Explosion at Yolande, Alabama, December 16th
Darr Mine Explosion at Jacob’s Creek, Pennsylvania, December 19th
Bernal Mine Explosion at Carthage, New Mexico, December 31st

Other Mine Disasters



Thank You

Thank you for watching our video and reading our article. The Darr Mine Disaster of December 1907. We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living. As we bring to you the history of the Appalachian Mountains.


Darr Mine disaster

Pittsburgh Coal Company
Darr Mine Explosion

Rescuers have not yet reached the point where the diggers were employed
United Press Dispatch
Jacob’s Creek
Dec. 20, 1907

Obstacles Encountered
United Press Dispatch
Jacob’s Creek
December 21, 1907

Comment made with the church coal miners information by
Mitred Archpriest Stephan P. Romanchak

Jacob’s Creek, PA Darr Mine Explosion, Dec 1907

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