Hellraisers Journal: Bernal Mine Explosion Closes Out December 1907, Most Deadly Month for Nation’s Miners

“Oh, damn it, dagos are cheaper than props.”
-Mother Jones quoting a mine manager.


Hellraisers Journal, Wednesday January 1, 1908
Carthage, New Mexico – Year Ends with Explosion at Bernal Mine

If we thought we could end the deadly month of December 1907 without further news of horror from the nation’s coal mines, that hope was tragically crushed today with the news from New Mexico of yet another mine explosion, this latest at the Bernal Coal Mine.

From the Albuquerque Citizen of December 31, 1907:

Bernal Mine Disaster Carthage NM, Abq Ctz p1, Dec 31, 1907

This latest mine explosion at the Bernal Mine brings the death toll in the nations coal mines to well over 600 for the month of December 1907, making December the most deadly month for coal miners in U. S. history:

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

Note: the total death toll for each of these mine disasters in not yet known, but the two most deadly, the Darr Mine Explosion and the Explosion at Monongah have, between them, claimed 600 lives, therefore the total death toll for the five mine disasters of December 1907 will very likely be more than 700. Our readers should also remeber that when miners are killed one by one, in pairs, or in small groups of three or four, that is not counted as a “disaster.”

From The New York Times of December 20, 1907:


Mine Disasters Styx River, Ptt Prs p1, Dec 19, 1907

News of another coal mining disaster in Pennsylvania came on the very day of the publication of the report to the Department of the Interior on such disasters and their causes. The Connellsville [Darr Mine] explosion yesterday, in which the lives of many miners were sacrificed, resembles in its causes and the extent of its damage the explosion at Monongah, West Va., last week, and that on Monday at Yolande, Ala [and, not mentioned here by the Times, the Naomi Mine Disaster early in December].

Mr. HOLMES, Chief of the Technical Branch of the Interior Department, in commenting on the loss of nearly 23,000 lives through mine explosions in less than eighteen years, says that the increase of such disasters is due to lack of proper regulations, ignorance, and carelessness-for though his words are more polite, that is what they mean.

Coal mining has been largely developed of late and the number of men employed in the mines greatly increased. The Monongah and Connellsville [Darr Mine] disasters could surely have been prevented. In European coal producing countries legislation for safeguarding the lives of miners has proved effective, and three such disasters as we have had within a fortnight will probably induce the mine owners to consider the need of stricter precautions.


[Drawing and emphasis added.]



Albuquerque Citizen
(Albuquerque, New Mexico)
-Dec 31, 1907

USMRA: Mine Disasters in the USA for 1907

The New York Times
(New York, New York)
-Dec 20, 1907

Mine Disasters Styx River, Ptt Prs p1, Dec 19, 1907

See also:

Tag: December 1907

“U.S. Coal Mining’s Deadliest Month: December 1907”
-by Trevor Hammond

U. S. Department of Interior
“Coal-Mine Accidents: Their Causes and Prevention”
-by Hall and Snelling
WDC, 1907

Bernal Mine Explosion
Carthage Fuel Company
Carthage, New Mexico
December 31, 1907
No. Killed – 11

More re Bernal Mine Disaster + more re death in mines from:
The Washington Post
(Washington, District of Columbia)
-Jan 1, 1908

Bernal Mine Disaster, WDC Pst p1, Jan 1, 1908

Albuquerque, N. Mex., Dec. 31. — At least nine miners were killed, three fatally, and two seriously injured in an explosion of gas and coal dust at noon today in the Bernal mine at Carthage, Socorro County, N. Mex., one of three large coal mines owned by the Carthage Fuel Company.

Nine bodies have been taken out, and although the mine is still filled with gas, it is believed that no more victims remain in the workings. O. L. Wilcox, an American mine boy, is among the dead. The others were mostly Mexicans.

All Blown to Death

All of the men had apparently been killed instantly and some of the bodies were mangled beyond recognition.

Supt. C. P. Weber, with a party of rescuers numbering several dozen, have been busy working all afternoon in spite of the gases with which the mine workings are filled. Women and children are with difficulty kept from the mouth of the mine.

Carthage is a small town on a branch line twenty miles from San Antonio, New Mexico on the Santa Fe Railroad, and communication is difficult. Had it not been for the fact that the explosion occurred during the noon hour the death list would be larger. The explosion shook the country for miles around, and several of the bodies were thrown clear out of the main entrance to the mine. Two bodies were blown nearly 300 yards away.

A force of about fifty men was employed in the mine, and all but those who were killed or injured had gone to dinner.

Massillon, Ohio, Dec. 31.-Two miners, George Roberts and his son George, were killed to-day in Crows Nest coal mine, near East Greenville, and three others were imprisoned by a fall of slate.

Rescuing parties, after two hours’ work, succeeded in reaching the entombed men, and brought them out. The entrance to the mine, owned by J. H. Somers & Co., Cleveland, had been blocked following an explosion.

Buried Alive, but Saved.

Pittsburg, Dec. 31.-Two foreign miners were probably injured and two dwelling houses partly wrecked to-day at Willock, near here, when a keg of blasting powder became ignited from an open lamp which one of the the men was fastening to his cap.

Jacobs Creek, Pa., Dec. 31.-Three more bodies were recovered from the Darr mine to-day, bringing the total number up to 223.