Farmington Mine Disaster

The resulting law increased mine inspections; allowed the government to shut down unsafe mines; placed stricter limits on coal dust; improved ventilation, roof supports, and methane detection; and provided compensation to miners suffering from black lung.
E-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. 

Jesse Wright / WVPB

On Nov. 20, 1968, an underground explosion ripped through a West Virginia coal mine and killed 78 miners. Fifty years later, the local community still comes together the Sunday before the anniversary of the Farmington Mine Disaster to remember the men lost that day.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, journalist and professor Bonnie Stewart joins us to talk about the recent 50th anniversary of the Farmington Mine Disaster.

Fifty years ago this week, 78 men were killed when a coal mine exploded in West Virginia. The Farmington Mine Disaster devastated a small town and ushered in new health and safety laws nationwide.

George Butt was in the first grade in November 1968 when his father put in his two weeks' notice at the No. 9 mine. Harold Wayne Butt had worked as a coal miner but planned to switch careers, to become a postmaster.

"They came and got me out of class and told me I had to go home," George Butt said. "Ended up finding out the tragedy when I got there."

Farmington No. 9: The West Virginia Disaster that Changed Coal Mining Forever

Nov 20, 2018
Jesse Wright / WVPB

In 1969, the world’s attention turned upward to the Moon, as Neil Armstrong took humankind’s first momentous step off Earth onto another world.

But that year also saw momentous federal legislation spurred by a disaster that riveted the nation’s attention downward, hundreds of feet below the Earth and the hills of West Virginia.

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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, states in the Ohio Valley are cultivating economic benefits by embracing clean energy, and we remember the Farmington Mine Disaster that occurred 50 years ago this week.

In this Nov. 21, 1968, file photo, smoke pours from the burning Llewellyn portal of the Mountaineer Coal Co., where 78 miners are trapped near Farmington, W.Va.
AP file photo

Nearly half a century after an explosion tore through the Farmington No. 9 mine in West Virginia, the families of the 78 men who died there are still looking for justice.

Many of the children of the lost miners are now grandparents and older than their fathers ever were. Some have given up hope of ever holding anyone accountable for the disaster. But others are looking to a federal appeals court for some measure of closure.

UBB Mine Disaster
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On April 5, 2010, the day after Easter, a series of explosions rocked the Upper Big Branch mine near Montcoal in Raleigh County.

Twenty-nine men died, making it West Virginia’s worst mining disaster since 78 miners were killed at Farmington in 1968.

After the Upper Big Branch explosion, an independent investigation determined that sparks from a longwall miner had ignited a pocket of methane, setting off a chain of explosions that surged more than two miles through the mine.

uscourts.gov

A federal judge in West Virginia has tossed out a lawsuit filed by relatives of 78 miners killed in a 1968 mine explosion.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley in Clarksburg ruled Friday that laws at the time stipulated there was a two-year window to file a lawsuit after the disaster.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Nov. 20 marks the anniversary of the 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster, which killed 78 men. It was the worst U.S. mine disaster in 50 years. On Sunday, a crowd of about 150 people gathered at the memorial of the Farmington Mine Disaster.

WV Division of Culture and History

Wednesday is the 45th anniversary of a mine explosion in Farmington, W.Va., that claimed the lives of 78 men. Time Trail, West Virginia, from the state Division of Culture and History, describes what happened that day.

November 20, 1968: The Farmington mine disaster

After an explosion tore through Consolidation Coal Company's Number 9 mine in Farmington, there was still hope that miners trapped below ground found a way to survive.