Falls of coal and gas in the tunnels were among the most serious dangers faced by miners, but they also faced many other threats to life and limb.
John Brown, an employee at the Kohinoer colliery near Shenandoah, had a “distressing experience” on Friday, Oct. 6, 1899, while engaged in cleaning a pump in the mine.
Grease and dirt accumulated in the chambers of the pumps and it was necessary for the men in charge to periodically remove these obstructions by hand, it was explained in the Oct. 7 issue of the Evening Herald. “Brown passed his left arm through one of the chambers and was working the dirt and grease from the rear end of the working bar when the pole sneaked back and pinned his hand in the chamber.
“The man was a helpless victim. There was no one near him and he was powerless to give the pole a reverse movement so that he could release his hand. The pain caused by the pressure on the hand and wrist was excruciating and Brown cried out in agony for help, but none came until he was held in his painful position for fully three-quarters of an hour.”
Finally, Stephen Charles, who was working at the top of the slope, heard Brown’s cries for help through a return way leading from the pump house to the surface. Due to sound distortions, it took some time for him to locate the pinned man and take steps to release him. Though Brown’s hand and arm were badly bruised and swollen, no bones were broken.
The same issue of the Herald reported injuries to other residents employed in area mines.
Bert McDermott, a 13-year-old boy, suffered the loss of a joint on each of two fingers of his left hand while working on Oct. 6 at the Indian Ridge colliery. During his lunch hour, McDermott was seated on a car outside the tunnel when some boys started a car at the rear. He saw the car approach and placed his hand on the one he occupied in order to alight, but before he could get off, his hand was pinched between the two. His fingers were so badly crushed, it was necessary for a physician to amputate them.
Patrick Birmingham, age not listed, was knocked unconscious and injured in another accident the same day at the Turkey Run mines. While he was assisting in replacing a car on a track, the lever he was handling slipped and struck him under the chin. He suffered a gash requiring several stitches.