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Old 04-09-2011, 05:04 AM   #1313
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Benwood Mine Disaster - Marshall County

Located on South Marshall St about 1/4 mile south of downtown Benwood, which itself is just south of Moundsville between Rt 2 and the Ohio River.

Benwood Coal Mine Disaster – April 28, 1924

Benwood was the location of the tragic 1924 Coal Mine Disaster. At approximately 7:05 AM EST on Monday, April 28, 1924, the coal mine of the Wheeling Steel Corporation's mill located in Benwood exploded, killing all 119 men who were working in the coal mine at the time, the majority of whom were immigrants of Polish, Italian, Greek, Croatian, Slavic, Slovak, Serbian, Hungarian, Austrian, Russian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian descent.

Benwood is a city in Marshall County, West Virginia, along the Ohio River. It is part of the Wheeling, West Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,585 at the 2000 census. Benwood was chartered in 1853 and incorporated in 1895. The name of the city is derived from "Ben's Woods" as Benjamin McMechen (1777 - 1855) inherited that portion of land from the estate of his father, William McMechen (1724 - 1797), and built his homestead upon it.

New York Times - April 29, 1924

Entire Day Shift of Wheeling Steel Corporation Trapped in Benwood Workings.
Debris and Poison Gas Block Rescuers - Stricken Families Grieve in Drenching Rain.
Special to the New York Times.

Benwood, W. Va., April 28 - One hundred and fourteen men are believed to have perished in an explosion in the Benwood mine of the Wheeling Steel Corporation here at 7:30 0'clock this morning. Fourteen bodies have been recovered.
Rescue crews, working at both ends of the mine, had to break their way through a huge mass of stone that blocked the entrance. Late this afternoon they had reached a point 3,000 feet from the main entrance, where another complete blockade was encountered.
Two men were found still alive at 11 o'clock in an air shaft but they died before they could be carried to the surface. Two hours later the bodies of two other men, burned beyond recognition, were found on a motor near the mouth of the mine. Three other bodies were carried out at the Elm Grove outlet on the east soon afterward.
The terrific force of the explosion tore away heavy ties used over the entrance to the mine. The concussion, officials believe, was sufficient to kill a majority of the workers.
As if in sympathy with the frantic hundreds who thronged the streets near the steel company's gates, a heavy rain fell throughout the day. Wives and children of the miners, seemingly unmindful of the drenching downpour, stood about in pitiful groups, awaiting news of their loved ones, for whom hope was gradually dying.
At 2:30 P.M. the pumps used by rescue workers had begun to pour gas from the main shaft entrance at Benwood. All outlets for the poisonous fumes had been cut off until this time. Inspector A. E. Lafferty, rturning from a trip into the mine at Brown's Run air shaft, said there was absolutely no hope for the men then entombed.
The explosion occurred only five minutes after the crew on the day shift had gone into the mine. The regular morning work train carried at least 104 miners and their equipment. A man who had seen them start said he heard the explosion less than five minutes later. The train at this time had traveled at least a mile into the mine, it is believed.
At 8 o'clock, half an hour after the explosion, four cars from mine headquarters carrying rescue workers left Benwood at 10 o'clock for the Still Run air shaft, while reinforcements were sent at the same time to Brown's Run.
The mine rescue car Holmes, sent by the Pittsburgh division of the United States Bureau of Mines, arrived at noon and a crew of mine engineers under the supervision of J. W. Fene, system chief safety engineer of Pittsburgh, went into the mine soon afterward.
A corps of nurses from the Wheeling Chapter of the American Red Cross and five Wheeling physicians were on the scene, while Red Cross headquarters at Washington, D. C. has assured that any other medical assistance needed would be sent.
On the embankment overlooking Marshall Street, at the gate of the steel company, hundreds are crowding the hills in the rain, which has poured down all day. An ink-black sky forms a background for the mine entrance, while in the rear of the Marshall Street hill flames from the steel furnaces cast a lurid glow over the scene.
Benwood is the steel city of the Wheeling District. It is five miles below Wheeling on the river and the mine is one of the oldest in this district. Officials announced that 104 men received their "checks" before entering the mine. While some might have entered without "checking in," they said the number entombed would not be more than 110.

Historical Marker located on South Marshall St, about 1/4 mile south of downtown Benwood.

Same Marker - Side #2

View south on South Marshall Street.

View north on South Marshall Street. Present day mining operations are visible in the far distance to the right.

The guard at the coal processing station told me the original mine was up over this hill across Rt 2. Since I didn't bring my climbing gear with me, this is as close as I could get. Coal from the present day mine travels through this tube to be loaded onto barges on the Ohio River.

Downtown Benwood - a true picture of Blue Collar West Virginia. Nice people!

Another view of Benwood.

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pnoman screwed with this post 04-09-2011 at 03:09 PM
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