Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

May 11, 2006

Coal mines in the Rathbun area

Last week I told you about the first mine in Rathbun, which was the Star Coal Co. just west of Rathbun. In 1908 Fowler & Wilson bought the Star Mine and called it their Mine No. 1. It was in operation until 1928. There was a spur track curling around the south edge of Rathbun thence northwest to the tipple west of town (just west of the church). The coal mined was in a huge area of 520 acres mostly south and west of the tipple.



A very bad accident happened in Fowler & Wilson Mine No. 1 in 1918 with the result that Jury Haggerty and Mr. Garinger died and four other miners were scalded and burned. All six were rushed to the St. Joseph’s Hospital in very serious condition. The other four were Winfred Hurt of Jerome, Chas. Vance, James Hodson and Nova H. Sanford of Missouri. Garinger died about 7:30 in the morning after suffering terrible agony all night.

The accident occurred late in the afternoon at the big Rathbun mine. Originally there were four very large slag piles. By 1918 there were two left, one still alive and burning and the other being burned out and cold. The men were a special crew, working with a steam shovel on a Milwaukee work train, and going beyond the burning pile to load the slag onto box cars from the old pile. The slag would be used in building up the railroad.

The slag had become very compact, and it was necessary to use dynamite to loosen it. The slag had been cleared away until a straight surface 75 feet in height was exposed. Previous to this, water had been pumped up onto the still smoldering dump to put out the fires and make the stuff cool enough to be handled, and this stream of water, it appears, was still running into a crevice high up on the dump above the men on the track. This continuous run of water probably undermined and loosened a projecting shoulder of the slag on the pile.

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