Aruna Dias 232 West Beaver Ave.

State College, PA 16801 June 4, 2010

Alan Jalowitz 502 Paterno Library University Park, PA 16802 Dear Mr. Jalowitz Introduction During the American industrial revolution of the 1800 s, the majority of Americas industries were fueled by coal. Northeast Pennsylvania had the largest deposits of anthracite coal in the western hemisphere, this attracted many people from different parts of Europe. They provided cheap labor in the mines, which was to become the state of Pennsylvania s largest, most violent, most profitable and most dangerous industry. The Avondale mine disaster was the deadliest of Pennsylvania mining tragedies . It happened at the Avondale Colliery on September 6th 1869, five months after Pennsylvania became the first state nationwide to pass any form of mine safety legislation. The disasters lead to the death of 110 people. The death toll included five boys between the ages of twelve and seventeen and two volunteers who suffocating while attempting to rescue the trapped miners. At the time the Avondale mine like many of the other mines had a small fire burning at the bottom of the shafts. This created a draft inside the main shaft which improved the air circulation for miners working inside. The ventilating furnace set up to improve the air circulation in the shaft set fire to timbers supporting the mine. The flames engulfed the breaker on the surface blocking the only exit for the miners, the flaming breaker then collapsed into the mine. Further sealing the exit and devouring any oxygen left in the shafts.

Credentials I just completed my junior year in Community and Environmental Development at Penn State University. Not having grown up in Pennsylvania I had not heard about the Avondale disaster before starting my research. I have however been learning a lot about the disaster during my research through websites, web articles, old accounts and a book found detailing the disaster in the Paterno Library. Whilst researching for sources I found myself very intrigued in the catastrophe and the events before and after the incident and have become very interested in the Avondale disaster. With the guidance from my English instructor, my interest in the topic and prior knowledge of time management and research techniques I feel that I would be able to bring the best out of this topic. I m currently starting my senior year in the college of agriculture, even though this topic is not related to my major I feel that I will be able to present the topic well and write an article that does justice to the people who lost their lives on that faithful September morning.

The Avondale breaker, photo taken 1867 by Beckwith

Research After thorough research on the web and in the Penn state libraries, I collected these sources. My research documents include: y y y y y A memo from the US department of labor, mine safety and health administration and a list if all the deceased individuals. An article from the times-tribune outlining the rescue efforts after the disaster, published September 09. A webpage from giving a description of the safety legislations passed after the accident. Article from the The Janesville Gazette Wisconsin 1869-09-07 and 1869-09-08. Part two of an article titled Initial recovery efforts the article was split into 6 different parts only the first two parts containing the description of the mine and the accident and the initial recovery efforts. Book Tragedy At Avondale . This source highlighted the causes, consequences and legacy of the Pennsylvania anthracite coal industry.


Technical Description Mine disaster, Avondale Colliery, Delaware, Western, and Western Railroad Company, Plymouth, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. On the 6th of September 1869 at around 10am a wooden breaker over the opening shaft to the underground mine caught on fire. The breaker was constructed to add stability to the sub terrain structure. The shaft underneath the wooden breaker was the sole means of ventilation and exit for the miners working inside. The fire blocked their exit and consumed all the oxygen remaining in the shaft, hence suffocating the miners almost immediately. The use of breakers was a common practice only in Pennsylvania; it was banned in England some years before but was still in use to eliminate the need to transport the coal from the mine and to the breaker at Avondale. 108 workers were in the mine the time the alarms went off. They quickly removed blasting powder to stop any explosions. The sound of the alarm whistles brought men women and children and the visible blaze drew more people to the opening of the mine, where a steam engine from Scranton and two bucket brigades from Kingston and Wilkes-Barre fed fire engines in an effort to put out the engulfing flames Ventilating furnaces were used to purify the air in the shafts instead of fans. These furnaces were located near the bottom f the shaft; this is where the fire started. It then quickly moved upwards catching fire to the wooden breaker above. The men knew that a fire in the mine meant certain death so they tried to separate themselves from the fumes by separating themselves from the engulfing fumes. They failed to erects wall to isolated themselves from the smoke on fumes

Bibliography 1. y High quality picture source. y Picture of Avondale disaster bringing out the dead . y Relevant source. 2. y This is a source of very high quality. y In depth description of the mine and accident, the source is split into 6 parts all describing different aspects of the disaster. y All the information in this source is about the Avondale disaster and hence is all highly relevant. 3. y High quality source. y Pennsylvania historical and museum commission. y Relevant source. 4. y High quality source. y picture depicting the Avondale mine and the inquest into the accident y All information is relevant. 5. y Source of high quality. y In depth account of how the disaster happened and rescue efforts. y All the information in this source was relevant. 6. y Source of high quality. y Account of what caused the disaster, the anthracite mining industry and what was done by congress to make mining safer after the disaster. y All the information was relevant.

7. y High Quality source. y Written as an eye description account of a man working on the mining site. y All the information was relevant. 8. y Good quality source. y Memo from the US department of labor, Mine Safety and health administration. y Information was all relevant. 9. Tragedy At Avondale (book by Robert P. Wolensky & Joseph M. Keating) y High quality source book source. y Causes consequences and legacy of the Pennsylvania Anthracite coal industry s deadliest mining disaster. y Information from this book was all relevant. Conclusion After the Avondale disaster it was apparent that major changes needed to be made in the safety regulations to avoid such a catastrophe from happening again. I propose to continue research on the event and write an article for the PA Center for the Book on the Avondale disaster. By doing this I hope that once again people come to realize how influential it was in shaping the future of mining in Pennsylvania. Sincerely, Aruna

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