1947 Centralia mine disaster
|Date||March 25, 1947|
|Location||Centralia No. 5 coal mine, Washington County section of Wamac, Illinois|
In the Centralia mine disaster on March 25, 1947, the Centralia No. 5 coal mine exploded near the town of Centralia, Illinois, killing 111 people. The Mine Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor reported the explosion was caused when an underburdened shot or blown-out shot ignited coal dust. At the time of the explosion, 142 men were in the mine; 65 were killed by burns and other injuries and 45 were killed by afterdamp. Eight men were rescued, but one died from the effects of afterdamp. Only 31 miners escaped.
In popular culture
American folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote and recorded a song about the Centralia mine disaster entitled The Dying Miner. Guthrie's recording of the song is now available on the Smithsonian-Folkways recording Struggle (1990). Songwriter Bucky Halker rearranged this song and recorded it for his Welcome to Labor Land CD (Revolting Records, 2002), a collection of Halker's renditions of labor songs from Illinois. Halker also recorded his version of "New Made Graves of Centralia" for his CD Don't Want Your Millions (Revolting Records, 2000). Halker based his version on an original recording of this song in the Country Music Hall of Fame, but the author and recording artist were unknown.
Along with The Dying Miner, Guthrie wrote a song entitled Waiting at the Gate, regarding the same incident through the perspective of a miner's son.
- Death Underground: The Centralia and West Frankfort Mine Disasters. Robert E Hartley, David Kenney. Southern Illinois University Press; 1st edition (July 24, 2006) ISBN 0-8093-2706-6
- Illinois Labor History Society article
- Public Sector Safety Professionals: Focused on Activity or Results? Fred Fanning. Spring 2007.
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