Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lick Branch Mine

Lick Branch Mine
Switchback, W.Va
I found this letter last summer at the Eastern Coal Archives in Bluefield. I thought several might be interested in it. Does anyone have additional information about these disasters? The letter is dated 24 Feb 1909 from the Lick Branch Mine Relief Committee/ the Subscription Committee.
"Dear Sir:
On Tuesday, December 29th, 1908, at Switchback, West Virginia, seventeen miles west of Bluefield, an explosion occurred in the Lick Branch Mine of the Pocahontas Consolidated Collieries Company, Inc., resulting in the death of fifty-one employees. Operations were resumed in the mine on January 7, 1909, by permission of the State Mine Department, and on Tuesday, January 12th, another explosion occurred, causing the destruction of sixty-six more lives, making a total of one hundred and seventeen lost in the two accidents, only two weeks apart.
Switchback has, normally, a population of 1,000 and is a typical mining village, consisting of a store and houses, all owned by the Company. the employees of the Lick Branch Mine, and those of other mines of the same Company, located nearby, rent these houses, and live in them with their families, or as boarders.
From the statistics furnished by the company, it is shown that fifty-three widows, and seventy-six children under 16 years, are left without means of support; that fifty-seven of the victims were unmarried, but how many of these contributed to the support of parents or other relatives in unknown and must be developed; and that there were seven bodies that were unidentified, about whose relatives, consequently, nothing is now known, but about whom information is hoped to be obtained later.