Coal Mine Health and Safety

November 20, 1968: Farmington Mine Explosion Kills 78

Nov 20, 2018

In the predawn hours of November 20, 1968, a massive explosion ripped through the Consolidation Coal Company’s Number 9 mine near Farmington. Twenty-one miners were able to escape. But another 78 were trapped inside.

At first, the intense heat from the fire kept rescuers out of the mine. When they finally got inside, the mine was unstable, and officials feared another explosion. After nine days, the mine was sealed as a safety precaution with all 78 miners still inside. It was reopened a year later. Most of the bodies were recovered, but 19 were never found.

Congressman Ken Hechler paid to bring hundreds of miners and the widows of the Farmington miners to protest at the nation’s capitol.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On December 30, 1969, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.  Since the Monongah mine disaster in Marion County more than 60 years earlier, Congress had been passing laws to address coal mine safety. However, most were filled with loopholes or lacked funding for enforcement.

The tide turned after another Marion County disaster. The 1968 Farmington explosion killed 78 miners. Americans watched in horror as the drama unfolded on national TV. 

Abortion Bill Heads to Governor Tomblin's Desk

Feb 25, 2015

At the legislature today, bad blood lingers in the Senate after yesterday’s action to move the charter schools bill to the floor.  In the House, the Government Organization committee hears an earful from Democrats about the bill to roll back the prevailing wage law.  And we’ll check in with the Our Children, Our Future campaign to see how their legislative priorities are doing at The Legislature Today.

Coal Miner Sam Williams Speaks Out

Feb 9, 2015
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting