Cherry Coal Mine Disaster

Mine Site Photos Page Four
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Cherry Mine Disaster Story
Story of Disaster by Steve Stout
The Fatal Day
Story in a Nutshell
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Description of Cherry Mine
James Cherry
page two mine pics
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Bell Signals etc.
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Model Pics Set Two
Twelve Heroes Story
John Flood: Hero
Alex Norberg (Hero)
Read about Eight-Day Men
John Thomas Brown
Which Story Deserves Movie?
The Memorial and More
Miners Tombstones
Cherry Depot
Soldier Trains and more
Morgue Tent
Names of Victims
Names of Victims section two
Coal Mining Words
Map Diagrams
No Respect For History
The Day the Tipple Fell
Farewell letters
Sam Howard's Letter
More on the Subject
"Oneness" Press release
TRAPPED: Karen Tintori's new book
MODEL RAILROADING MAG
Ray Tutaj Model Projects
Last Days of The Milwaukee Road
Milwaukee Road Car
St. Paul Coal Mine Office
Remembering the disaster.
100th Anniversary/Car Show
100th Anniversary Photos
100th Anniversary photos by Candy Brown
100th Anniversary pics from Karen Tintori
We need Your Help (1909 song)
Cherry Word Puzzle
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100th Anniversary Documentary Available and More!
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Workers Compensation
Cherry MIne Enthusiasts Remembered
How You Can Help

Crowd gathered near destroyed air shaft
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A result of reversing the fans direction. Read more below

 

It was a big mistake to reverse the fan when the fire was raging down below. A decision that cost many men their lives, because the fire was pulled up the escape shaft thus setting a fire to the wooden stairway. At first it seemed sensible to reverse the fan and suck out all the smoke away from the miners below. To stop the fan would have been the wisest thing to do for a while. The 16 foot fan was used to supply the miners with oxygen to breathe while working below. At this point in the disaster which was only hours after the fire began, the escape shaft could not be used. If any survivors were to live through this ordeal they must find their way to the main shaft. Imagine dense smoke filling the passageways below and in the darkness below. The miners were blinded by the smoked let alone strangled by it. Some would keep their foot on a rail track along the passageway in an effort to guide them. With no fresh air it became futile. Most of the miners died from smoke inhalation and black damp(see terminology page).

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Choas at the fanhouse
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Ladies in distress as they fear the worst of their loved ones fate below.

As officials paced back and forth near the fanhouse area, the wives and mothers of the miners below are seen here in great distress.  The officials don't know what to do now with the escape shaft destroyed.  The women i am sure were yelling and screaming with great panic at these men or someone to do something, but a short time later the decision to seal the mainshaft had come. By doing this the officials knew it would smother the fire thus not giving it any oxeygen, and also they could save the mine below from being completely destroyed. Of course the families of the miners went hysterical and were accusing the St. Paul officials of being more concerned about the mine rather than the miners who slaved away in the depths below.  But remember, before they sealed the mine that day there were twelve men (heroes) who made six successful trips upon the cage at the main shaft rescuing miners from death below. But on the 7th trip, because of a mixup in the signals of raising and lowering the cage, the miners were consumed by the fire. Imagine raising the cage to the surface with burning bodies for all the families and folks gathered around the mainshaft.  It was a most horrific and gruesome sight to see, especially for the families of the twelve courageous men.  Those family members pleaded with them not to go down there again, for they were risking their life and the fire was getting stronger.  But in an effort to save their fellowman they became martyrs and today are Heroes in Heaven.

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SAMUEL HOWARD who kept a diary for two days.
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Last alive on Nov 16th 1909

SAMUEL HOWARD  The young man who kept the diary from November 14th to Nov. 16th and closed by saying , "It is 1pm, Monday November 16th (did he mean 15th here)
The lights are going out, I think this is our last."

INSIDE THE BOILER HOUSE
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The building that provided the power for the mine. See below.

The boiler house is the brick building on the site that has the six tall smoke stacks. If you look at some of the other pages on this website you will see the boiler house.  These boilers provided steam pressure to make the cages ascend and descend.  These cages were made of iron and with loaded mine cars of coal we are talking several tons, so they needed power. It worked much like a steam engine train. There were pipes (flues) that heated the water around those flues and the water became so hot it would create pressure. Of course they shoveled coal into the boilers to create a fire to heat the pipes. This pressure could be regulated to move heavy machinery.  The boiler house was connected to the engine house in back and the engine which was steam driven caused the 9ft wooden drum to turn. Wrapped around this drum is a steel cable about an inch and a half in diameter and about 500ft long.  These cables strecthed all the way to the top of the tipple's headframe and the pulley's (sheaves) were at the top and directly above the mainshaft.  The cables were fastened to the cages below. The cages i might add were raised and lowered in tandem. That means as one went up, the other one went down.
   One other tidbit of technical info: They could only run three boilers at a time. The pipes (flues) in the boiler would need to be replaced after repeated use and wear and tear from the chemicals and lime in the water. When the three boilers were shut down for repair, they would start the other three boilers so the mine could continue operating.  Don't forget,  in 1904 when the mine opened, this was the most advanced coal mine around. It was equipped with the best technology and even had electrical lighting down below until it was shorted out by water.  They were then forced to use kerosene torches for a whilefor lighting.  Unfortunately procrastination in getting the lighting problem fixed as soon as possible helped lead to a chain of mistakes that spelled disaster.

Cherry Coal MIne