Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

February 28, 2007

Tragedy at the Shamrock Mine

Today’s article will conclude my 18-month long series on coal mines. It has been quite a challenge. Since I have accumulated so much material and pictures and have interviewed so many people, it would be a shame to throw all these resources away. So I am working to preserve this history by putting it all into a book.

Continuing with the remaining coal mines in the northeast part of Centerville in a clockwise direction, the next mine is the Neal Coal Co., locally known also as the Knapp Mine. It was located immediately south of Cooper Creek on the east side of Old Hwy. No. 5. It was built in 1936 and lasted only one year. Nothing is left.

The Rock Valley Coal Co. was built in 1895 and lasted until 1943 with 18 acres mined using an 80 foot shaft. It was on the north side of Rock Valley Road, about two blocks west of Shamrock Lane. Delbert Engle showed me the location near some homes, but there is nothing left to see now.

The Shamrock Mine is the last one to be described among the list of almost 300. Shamrock was located a short distance east of the intersection of Rock Valley Road and Shamrock Lane. It was a slope mine, in operation from 1925 to 1953. About 22 acres were mined. There is nothing but a wooded gully there now.

Shortly after the mine was closed there was a terrible tragedy in this slope mine. The fans were shut down and there was no longer any supply of fresh air. Three boys, Carl Hobart 14, Charles Dunham 15, and Mickey Coulter 14, all good friends, decided to go exploring in a cave. The boys were standouts scholastically, well-liked and all took an active interest in school extra-curricular activities. They were seen that morning walking north, taking them toward the Shamrock Mine, which had closed down earlier that year.

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