On this day in 1930, at 11:45 a.m., a tremendous explosion rocked the Sunday Creek No. 6 mine near Millfield, Ohio, killing 82 coal miners. Most of the miners were killed by asphyxiation from the carbon monoxide that resulted from the ignition of methane gas. A few miners survived by climbing out a ventilation shaft, and an additional 19 miners were rescued 10 hours after the blast. They survived by barricading themselves behind a ventilation partition they had erected to block the carbon monoxide. Ignition of the gas was believed to be caused by an electrical arc between a fallen trolley wire and the rail.
A storage room, a pool hall, and the Sunday Creek Coal Company store at Millfield were turned into temporary morgues. Funeral services were held for the miners on Sunday, November 9, 1930. As a result of this mine explosion, C. H. Harris stated, “fifty-nine women were widows and seventy-nine sons and seventy-five daughters of various ages, were made fatherless. The health of the few who survived was wrecked in a number of cases. Many families were several times sorrowed — one mother lost five sons.
Burial of the victims was paid by the state, allowing $150 in each case. Dependents of the miners were compensated at the rate of $18.75 a week until exhaustion of a death claim of $6,500 under the workmen’s compensation law. By March 1940, the state had paid to the No. 6 miners and dependents a total of $712,391. “The No. 6 mine reopened a month later and operated until 1945.
A monument was erected in 1975 near the disaster site with the names of the men that were lost and the smokestack at Mine No. 6 still stands today.
List of those killed
(Hat tip to Ken Ward)