PRINCETON — A section of Peabody Coal's Francisco mine remains closed, but production has resumed in unaffected areas, following a precautionary evacuation Monday and Tuesday after high methane levels were reported.

Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesman Amy Louviere confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the section where the inundation occurred is still down, but mining resumed in unaffected areas.

Fifty-eight miners were evacuated Monday after crews test-drilling a bore hole intersected an old mine and began getting high readings of methane out of the bore hole.

This week's incident happened without any injury, but sparked thoughts of the Dec. 9, 1926 Francisco Mine No. 2 explosion.

In 1926, the Francisco Mine No. 2 disaster killed 37 miners. Twenty-nine others were injured in the blast. Three men remained missing, trapped in the mine when rescue efforts were called off just five minutes before a second explosion, according to Princeton Clarion-News archives at The Daily Clarion.

A United Mine Workers monument stands at IOOF Cemetery in Francisco in memory of the union miners who died in the explosion.

The blast was not the first in the county's long mining history. The Clarion-News reporting of the Francisco mine disaster also recalled the county's first mine explosion on Jan. 2, 1897, in the old Princeton coal mine. Seven of the fifteen men trapped in the gas and dust explosion at that mine were killed.

But the event also brought back memories for Joretta Stapleton Hart, who, at age 17, lost her father 53-year-old father Ebert Stapleton in the July 27, 1948 King's Mine explosion south of Princeton.

This Friday marks the 70th anniversary of the explosion that killed 13 men at King's Mine. According to The Clarion's newspaper archives, the explosion happened at 1:15 a.m., just 15 minutes before shift-change on the first day the miners had returned to work following a 12-day layoff.

The Clarion reported the miners were repairing seals in the area of a November 1947 explosion when some of the workers experienced a "big puff of wind" that rattled wooden doors. Many miners were unaware of the explosion until they reached the surface.

A crowd of 1,000 to 2,000 locals gathered at the site of the 4,308 feet mine shaft where rescue efforts continued until all of the men were brought out of the mine at 4:40 p.m.

The newspaper reported that mine inspectors determined the event was a gas explosion caused when a door that was left open allowed ventilating shaft wiring to short-cirucuit, and gas accumulated in a dead air pocket.

The mine was closed until miners and safety officials voted to return to work Aug. 7, 1948. At the time of the disaster, the mine's $40,000 weekly payroll distributed among 550 miners was the largest payroll in Princeton.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.