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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format DVD


Filled with gasses and thick dust, prone to explosions and roof collapses, a coal mine was the most dangerous work place in America.

Jerry Bruce Thomas: Coal mining was an extremely dangerous occupation, extremely dangerous. From 1897 to 1928, ten thousand men died in West Virginia coal mines. Ten thousand in West Virginia, I’’m not talking about the country, I’m talking about West Virginia. That’s a stunning fact to me.

Two men injured by a powder explosion died last night. We buried one who has no relatives, the other we sent to Virginia to avoid keeping his widow and children. The accident will cost us twenty dollars, if twelve can be collected from the county for coffins. Bert Wright

Narrator: Mine safety regulations were weak and poorly enforced. Inspectors were often political appointees with no experience in the mines. There is not an inspector in this state, claimed one miner, who is not holding his job through the influence of an operator.

When the state legislature passed a bill requiring higher standards from mine inspectors, Governor William A. MacCorkle vetoed it.

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