Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Hominy Falls Mine Disaster


At approximately 10 a.m. May 6, 1968, a continuous miner machine at the Gauley Coal & Coke Saxsewell No. 8 mine in Nicholas County cut into an unmapped adjacent mine, which was filled with water. The resulting inundation drowned four miners and trapped 21 others. The trapped miners were in areas of the mine with high elevations, placing them above the water.

There were two groups of surviving miners. One group of 15 was nearer to the surface and in constant contact with rescuers. A second group of six miners was much deeper into the mine, close to the mine face. After five days of rescue efforts, the group of 15 miners was brought to the surface. There had been no contact with the other six miners, and they were presumed to have died. Early on the morning of May 16, recovery crews found the final six survivors and brought them to the surface. Their saga became known as the ‘‘Miracle at Hominy Falls.’’ Immediately following this disaster, laws were passed regulating the preservation of mine maps.

Written by David J. Kessler