The Avondale Mine Disaster
September 6, 1869

Part VI: Harper's Weekly Illustrations
of the Avondale Disaster
September 25, 1869 Issue


Below you will find a transcription of a research paper written by James M. Corrigary regarding the Avondale Mine Disaster (Plymouth, Luzerne Co., Pa.) of 6 Sept 1869, an accident that claimed the lives of 110 men and boys, miners and mine laborers. The report is found at the Mine Safety and Health Administration Library in Denver, Colorado, and provides fascinating eyewitness accounts of the accident and its aftermath, along with testimony from the official inquest. At times the eyewitness accounts are heart-wrenching and gruesome, particularly when the corner describes the condition of the bodies as they were recovered from the mine. The testimony at the official inquest into the accident makes for compelling reading as well, as witness made varying statements regarding the safety of the mine, and the precautions taken to prevent just such a disaster. Due to its length, I have broken the paper into five parts contained on five separate pages. There is a sixth page featuring illustrations of the Avondale Disaster and it's aftermath, from the September 24, 1869 issue of Harper's Weekly. I have also used these drawings throughout the other five pages to better illustrate the story of the disaster.

  • Part I:
  • Physical description of the mine and details of the accident
  • Part II:
  • Initial recovery efforts
  • Part III:
  • Recovery of the miner's bodies
  • Part IV:
  • The funerals, widows and orphaned children
  • Part V:
  • The official inquest into the accident
  • Part VI:
  • Harper's Weekly illustrations of the Avondale Disaster

    In the days when miners had few rights, and mine owners were rarely held accountable for injuries suffered by their workers, it is probable that most contemporary commentators assigned little blame for the disaster to the mining company itself. Nevertheless, the Avondale Disaster caused new mining regulations to be enacted, including the mandating of double-shaft mines, and the prohibition against collieries being built directly over the mine shaft. It is unfortunate, however, that such measures were taken only after a disaster of this magnitude.

    Jeffrey L. Thomas
    jltbalt1@verizon.net


    Harper's Weekly illustrations of the Avondale Disaster


    Return to Part I: Physical description of the mine and details of the accident
    Learn more about the Avondale Disaster victims buried in the Washburn Street cemetery.
    View a survey of the Washburn Street cemetery, Hyde Park/Scranton
    Read more about the history of Hyde Park with an emphasis on mining
    Read more about Benjamin Hughes, brother of Avondale Mine Boss Evan Hughes
    Return to the main page at the Thomas family web site

    Web site copyright 2005 by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved
    e-mail: jltbalt1@verizon.net