Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Documentary : West Frankfort Mine Disaster

Independent producer/reporter Chris Yoars has just completed a 16 minute piece on the West Frankfort Mine Disaster.

You may listen to the documentary by clicking here.

Life magazine image: Rescue workers watch silently as a
corpse comes up the shaft that had to be carried two
miles underground through debris - December, 1951.

Here's the description:

"This documentary tells the story of the 1951 West Frankfort Mine disaster in which 119 men were killed in an explosion on the last shift before the Christmas holiday. On the evening of December 21st, 1951, citizens of West Frankfort, Illinois were shocked when the word 'explosion' echoed through the streets of their humble mining community. Just hours before West Frankfort’s Orient #2 mine was to close for the Christmas holiday, an underground blast killed 119 mineworkers during the second shift.

Over the next few days the blackened and charred bodies of miners were carried up from the depths of the mine and moved to the West Frankfort Jr. High School gym floor for identification.

The explosion garnered national attention and resulted in the passage of the Federal Coal Mine Safety Act of 1952. The West Frankfort disaster is the worst of its kind since 1940, leaving 111 widows and 176 fatherless children in its wake. Those who died at the Orient #2 Mine are still remembered by the town of West Frankfort."

Thanks to Chris for sharing this impressive doc.


Maggi said...

I was only 6 years old at the time of the disaster, but I will always remember it. My father was the minister at the Episcopal church in West Frankfort, and some of the members perished. Everyone was affected by this horrible disaster. The deaths in West Virginia bring back some very sad memories. My dad was gone from home for most of the next few days - and it was Christmas. It is horrible that the mines are still so unsafe. There is no excuse!!!!!

Amber said...

My Great-Grandfather is Cecil Sanders so I have grown up listing to stories including this one. This is a horrible thing to happen to any family under any circumstance.