FARMINGTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 is the 55th anniversary of the Farmington number nine mine disaster, though not a day goes by those members of the community forget.
Though what determined the mine to explode is still undetermined—and to some controversial—it is believed that a mine fan was out of service and taken off of the signal system. This caused an increase of methane within the mine which would then lead to an explosion.
99 miners were trapped within the mine with only 21 of them able to escape, leaving 78 people dead.
Services are held annually at the Farmington Mine Disaster Memorial site located atop the unrecovered portion of the mine near the date of the anniversary.
12 News spoke with the president of the Marion County Historical Society, Dora Grubb, on her experience when the disaster occurred.
“I was in college at the time, and I went down to the station where they were bringing up and looking for the different bodies which was very sad. It was really horrible, with people sitting there just waiting to hear if it was somebody that they knew, if they were alive, or they were dead, and everything. People were crying. It was very silent, pretty much so, except for that,” said Grubb.
The Farmington Mine disaster created a lifelong impact on not only the community that surrounds the mine but the nation as a whole. This was the first time a mining disaster had truly been televised, gaining national attention and an abundance of concern.
Shortly after the tragedy, an abundance of legislation was passed throughout the nation to ensure the safety of all types of mining, not just coal.
“Monongah blew up in 1907, killed 361 miners, and nothing was done,” said Mike Rohaly, president of the Northern Appalachian Coal Mining Heritage Association. “In my mind, you know, the hallmark of that incident is that it did bring about such legislation.”
On this anniversary, many people remember the Farmington Mine disaster for the sacrifices made by the individuals who lost their lives that day, as coal runs deep in the bloodlines of West Virginians.