Basic facts about the Cherry mine and the disaster
The Coal mine was located in Bureau County Illinois, in a newly erected town built near
the mine, called Cherry IL., named after James Cherry who was superintendent of the St. Paul Coal mines.
The mine opened in 1904 and was owned by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad (C.M.& St. P)
Approximately 1500 tons of coal were mined daily and used for the railroad. About 300,000
tons annually were dug up in a year, not excluding all the dirt, shale, slag, and rock.
was about 1500 tons a day which would be about 3,000,000 lbs and each coal car was a wood sided gondola (41' long) having
a capacity of 100,000 lbs each. This would be about 30 train cars pulled out of Cherry a day. Pulled by 10-wheeler locomotives.
So that would be about 30 cars.
Miners received $1.08 per ton; a good day
was about 5 tons from two miners.
The mine below had three levels or "veins". The 1st
level being 165 ft. below the surface, 2nd-315 ft. and the 3rd level was about 500 feet below.
The coal at the 1st level was not mined because it had no commercial value.
fire started at the 2nd level at the escapeshaft/airshaft.
A mine car (6x3) filled
with hay (6 upright bales) was pushed in a spot where the kerosene torch dripped upon the hay load and a spark ignited the
hay which was used to feed the mules in the mine.
Due to an electrical short at the mine, kerosene
torches were used to light the dark mine below.
On Saturday, November 13, 1909 the tragedy began.
As a result, 259 miners lost their lives in the fire, and about 225 miners escaped. It is believed that about three miners
are unaccounted for, probably buried in cave-ins.
Black Damp is a poisonous gas that burns in
an atmosphere lacking sufficient oxygen. This is what strangled the life out of most of the miners below.
Twelve men made six successful trips into the mine to rescue men still alive. On the seventh trip those heroes died
in the fire. The story of the 12 heroes is fascinating.
Twenty-one miners survived eight days
in the mine before rescued, basically without food nor water. They barricaded themselves in by earth walls on each side. These
men were called the "Eight-Day Men." An epic chapter in the story indeed.
It took approximately
six months to retrieve all the bodies from the mine. Funerals where held almost daily for the lost coal miners.
The mine reopened in Feb 1910 and was worked until 1927 by the St. Paul Co.
Coal Co. (a small operation) then bought the mine in 1927 and worked it until about 1935.
result of the terrible disaster, workmans compensation laws were enacted and safety regulations were brought about.
[These facts above are elaborated in great detail throughout this site. See the links on the task bar at left]
Help cover costs to keep this website alive! A special thanks to the few who have donated. Thank you.
Get your copy of the DVD documentary on the Cherry Coal MIne Disaster. You can contact me at email@example.com for a copy or visit the Cherry library.
||To purchase the DVD documentary click on PayPal button
|The new memorial unvieled on Nov 14th, 2009
|Photo by Ray T.
|Grandson of George Eddy seen viewing monument
The 100th anniversary in Cherry was incredible. It was great to see thousands of people turn out for this. The many people
who were relatives of the miners had interesting facts to share. The unveiling of the new monument was quite a historic moment
for the little mining town.
I also want to thank folks for the donations to keep this website going.
The weekend was spectacular and i was glad to be a part of it!
|Looking north about where the tracks once were.
New Page! Nov 09, Cherry Mine artifacts!
Pictures from Nov. 7th 2009 Sprinfield IL., Remembering the disaster with authors held at Abe Lincoln Presidential Library.
Click here for details.
100th Anniversary Car Cruise night Photos. (click here)
Please note: Thanks to any donations toward this website. It helps to keep this
site going ( it was free but now they require a payment annually) Donations help keep it updated and of course the
site to be made available. Look for new things now and in the future. Feel free to
use the donation link (at the bottom of the page) to help make the payments which are very reasonable! A little will go a
long way. This site is for you! I gathered all of it for those who are interested. Thanks.
|Model of the Cherry Coal Mine
|Built by Ray Tutaj Jr.
|The day of the disaster, Nov 13th 1909
|Compare with model picture above this one.
|Dusk at the Cherry Coal Mine
|Photo of Model by Ray Tutaj Jr.
Note: Anniversary of Disaster is usually on the Sunday closest to November 13th. However please make sure before
you make travel plans.
The dramatic photo below was taken the following morning on Sunday, Nov 10th, 1909. Miners were
trapped below in the smoke filled mine. The next seven days would be a fight for twenty-one who would survive the disaster
while 259 would die. There were about 230 who made it out the day before on Saturday. Crowds of family and curious people
gather around to watch the drama unfold. Two newspaper boys carrying the headlines of the Cherry Mine Fire, can be seen in
the photo. (photo colorized by Ray Tutaj Jr.) Scroll down for more photos and text!
|November 10th, 1909, Sunday Morning
|Smoke billows out from airshaft from reversing the fan.
Milwaukee Road Combine Car in Mendota
Report on Cherry Mine Site in Jan 03 Click here
for story and pics
The Cherry Coal Mine Disaster,
is filled with such dramatic interest thus making it tailor-made for a "big time" motion
picture that would make the Titanic story dwarf in comparison. The Titanic hit an iceberg and sunk in a matter of hours. But
in the Cherry mine disaster it was weeks before a final death toll could be figured. The Cherry mine tragedy has so many fascinating
sides to it and contains every human emotion from the highest heights of triumph over death to the lowest depths of sorrow
the heart, soul and mind can ever experience. Stories of heroism, sacrifice, love and romance, and the unforgettable story
of the eight-day men. Nerve-racking suspense it was, because of the quick decisions that would affect the miners young lives.
This Tragic story is deserving of a motion picture so people can learn about this moment in
time and how it had a profound effect on the mining industry and how it affected workers rights.
This site is packed with photos, diagrams, stories and more! You will find fascinating info
concerning the Coal Mining Disaster that took 259 young lives on Nov. 13th 1909, in Cherry IL. Use this site
for research and study. Ive got plenty of pictures and information for you so come on in! There are numerous images,
so please be patient while the pages load and enjoy what i have made available for you.