A methane gas explosion November 6, 1923, inside the ill-fated Glen Rogers coal mine killed 27 men, the worst accident of any kind in Wyoming County history. Government officials blamed the inexperience of a crew constructing a ventilation passage, whose work diverted the airflow and allowed explosive gas to accumulate. Two of the victims were teenagers. Another five were among the many European immigrants who found work at the Raleigh-Wyoming Mining Company deep mine located in a sparsely populated part of southern West Virginia. Inspectors said a spark from an electric drill ignited a gas explosion and immediately killed four workers. Another 21 stationed nearby succumbed to the deadly gas. Two others drowned when they fell into a water-filled excavation ditch after nearly reaching the potential safety of the mine’s air shaft.
The mine, opened in 1921, became one of the state’s largest, with employment of nearly 1,000 men and annual production upward of one million tons during the 1930s and 1940s. Glen Rogers was the hometown of Governor William Marland, whose father was a superintendent of the mine after the explosion.
Three other disasters occurred at Glen Rogers. Five miners died September 23, 1922, when equipment fell on them during construction of the facility’s 720-foot deep shaft. A January 6, 1931, underground gas explosion claimed eight lives. Five workers died in a roof fall on December 9, 1957. A total of 160 fatalities occurred at the mine before it was closed in 1960 by its parent company, the Old Ben Coal Corporation of Chicago.
Written by Karl C. Lilly III
Dillon, Lacy A. They Died in the Darkness. Parsons: McClain, 1976.
Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States. U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration, 1998.