Remembering the Price-Pancoast Mine disaster

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THROOP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s considered one of the worst mining disasters in the history of anthracite coal fields. On April 7, 1911, 72 immigrant miners and a government rescue worker died in the Price-Pancoast Mine disaster in Throop.

It happened on this day in 1911 in Throop bordered by Charles, Sanderson, and Pancost streets. Grave markers in area cemeteries bear the date.

“Absolutely devastating. It was probably so chaotic. It is unimaginable. It, like you said, even today, how that would be such an impact. It’s kinda hard to believe,” Throop Police Chief Andrew Kerecman said.

An early morning fire in the underground China Vein Engine house, eventually spread to timbers. It ultimately suffocated 72 immigrant miners and one government rescue worker.

Wives and children of the missing workers rushed to the area where thousands gathered in a subdued atmosphere, seeking information about their loved ones.

“At that point a social worker, trying to steer people in the right direction. Examinations, funeral arrangements, people not knowing what to do. I could only imagine how hard that was,” Lackawanna County Coroner Tim Rowland said.

Rescue personnel, local ,state, and federal, were left trying to communicate with immigrants who primarily spoke Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak languages.

“Now 72 miners, or 72 people (deceased) in any kind of setting, where that many people died, I don’t care if you are in Throop, Scranton, or New York. That’s a big deal, I mean that’s a major issue, for somebody to handle the whole thing,” Rowland said.

The majority of the victims were removed from the Price-Pancoast Mine the following early morning, in an attempt to lessen the terrible sight.

“I can’t even wrap my head around it. And then the impact on the families, like you said there is children (123 orphaned), not only but there is uncles, and aunts, and moms and dads, and the ripple effect to cousins. And it is just, I can’t believe it, like it is really really bad,” Kerecman said.

As a direct result of this mine disaster, federal laws were enacted in order to make mining safer.

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