Friday, April 3, 2020

Sheppton Mine Disaster Site

Posted by Stu On January - 24 - 2012

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In August of 1963, three miners were stuck 330 feet below the ground when the Sheppton mine caved in.  Two of the miners stuck together and waited two weeks for rescue, initially eating tree bark and sucking water out of the bark for survival.  Within a week, holes were drilled to them that allowed air, food, water, and the beginnings of a rescue.  One miner, Louis Bova, was never seen again, despite making contact with his two coworkers, and his body was never recovered.

I first heard about the Sheppton mine disaster from a principal in a nearby school where I was doing some observation hours.  I was told a memorial could be found along a main road in Sheppton.  It surprised me that I had never heard of this mine disaster before, and it was more confusing that there was little information regarding its location.  I was determined to find it on my own, so one day in May 2011 I decided to make a small trip out of it; in addition I decided to check out and geocache in a few surrounding towns I had never been to before:  Sheppton, Oneida, and Brandonville.

Sheppton and Oneida are right next to each other, and each is just a few blocks long; the mine site was between the two towns.  I drove around and found no roadside monuments.  Sheppton actually reminded me of Children of the Corn, to be honest; most of the buildings on the main street are vacant, and I saw nothing but groups of kids walking around.  Down one road, however, I saw the following sign, and I figured that was a good starting point:


I parked near this sign and simply started roaming the field behind it.  For a little while there was a path, but it served little good since it went right into a pond:


I walked across a rocky stream because I thought I saw another trail to my side:


Following this path a bit, I saw something off in the distance:



This monument was certainly not just off a main road, but rather a good distance off a back road.  Still found it all by myself.  It’s much more a grave than a memorial for a mine disaster, however.  It’s dedicated to Louis Bova, the miner who could not be found.



Popularity: 98% [?]

Avondale Mine Disaster

Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2010

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With all the attention Centralia gets, it’s amazing most people are unaware of other mine fires and disasters.  I admit I had never heard of Avondale until I went looking for a geocache hidden there.  How does a mine disaster site with a 100+ death toll become overlooked?

There are 2 signs along the side of Route 11 in Plymouth that give a brief history of the disaster.  From them it’s a very short walk to the site itself, maybe 1/3 of a mile.

As the signs say, a fire broke out in 1869.  A coal breaker caught fire right by the mine shaft.  Since this shaft was the only entrance, workers became trapped inside.  Suffocation was the cause for many of the 110 deaths, including a few good Samaritans attempting to rescue the trapped miners.  It’s no secret young children were employed in mines during this time period; a few of them were also killed.



When we visited, it looked like work had recently been done.  An honorary marker had recently been placed, and what appear to have been two planters were also nearby.  Walls and stairs from the mine can be found all around; we also found a few fairly intact buildings a bit down the trail.





















Popularity: 9% [?]

Knox Mine Disaster

Posted by Stu On June - 18 - 2009

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The term “coal baron” exists for a reason.  In 1959, the owners of Knox Mine got greedy and had workers dig within 5-6 feet of the Susquehanna’s river bed; 30 feet is the normal stopping distance.  The river broke through the thin rock layer and immediately began to flood the mines.  Luckily, most of the miners managed to escape, but the twelve who didn’t were never found.  Water poured into the mine so rapidly that a whirlpool was visible on the river’s surface.  Anything within reach was thrown into the river to attempt to plug up the hole, including mining carts.
Today, a small marker can be found along a hiking trail in Pittston, memorializing the disaster and those who were never found.  Farther up the trail is another marker, indicating an air shaft that nearly half the escapees used.






Popularity: 13% [?]

Stockton Mine Disaster

Posted by Stu On June - 18 - 2009

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Stockton Mine was like any other anthracite mine in northeastern PA until one early morning in 1869, when some of the ground above the mine suddenly collapsed.  A few homes were swallowed up, and nobody inside had time to escape.  The rift kept growing, and the buildings that fell into the mine were buried almost as instantly as they had fallen.

Rescue was just about impossible; there was no way to get close with the ground continuing to sink.  A few bodies were recovered, but many were not.  Today, a memorial which also serves as a gravestone marks the site of the disaster and names the people who are still buried there.  One was a Civil War veteran.






Popularity: 13% [?]

Duffy’s Cut

Posted by Stu On June - 18 - 2009

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In the summer of 1832, Philip Duffy, a railroad contractor, hired 57 Irish immigrants on the docks of Philadelphia.  They were to fill in a ravine near present-day Malvern so rails for a new track could be laid.  They began their task, but only 6 weeks later all 57 were dead.  History blames a cholera outbreak, but cholera generally only has a 50% death rate.  Local legend claims that some, if not all, were murdered.  The locals at the time had a high prejudice of Catholicism and of immigrants.

Whatever happened to them, they were quickly buried in a shallow ditch with no ceremony.  In the 1870’s, a small fence was set up around what people thought was the mass grave site; it turned out to be the wrong spot.  By the 1910’s, it was discovered that at least part of the grave was now under the tracks; some time prior, the railroad had the track reset.  Papers reporting the deaths of the workers were found in the 1970’s, hidden in a vault.  The events at Duffy’s Cut were almost completely lost to history.  The area didn’t even get a historical marker until 2004.

The marker is at the intersection of King and Sugartown.  A few blocks away is the mass grave, which is currently being examined by archaeologists.


Popularity: 10% [?]

Hindenburg Crash Monument

Posted by Stu On September - 26 - 2007

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I would like to thank the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, especially Larry Lyford, for granting me access to the monument.

Many people know what the Hindenburg is, but not many are aware the disaster occurred right in Lakehurst. On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg, an 804 foot long zeppelin, burst into flames and came crashing down to the ground. Many of the passengers and crew died. The cause is still debated, but somehow the hydrogen-filled airship caught and in about half a minute was destroyed.

Today, there is a small blimp-shaped monument with a plaque in its center. The memorial is where the Hindenburg touched down that day. A good distance behind it is a huge hangar that housed the Hindenburg twice.

I first saw the Hindenburg crash site in 1992 when I was at an air show that the base used to hold annually. I went in the hangar too. Today, the field where the air show used to be held is overgrown.

Popularity: 20% [?]

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