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Way Back When

August 15, 2011

(The Spirit is pleased to share with our readers vignettes of life in the 19th Century as originally reported in past issues of the newspaper. These reprinted stories include their original headlines and spelling.)

Local Intelligence
(March 25, 1896)

DEADLY AFTER DAMP
It Causes Horrible Disaster
at Adrian Mines.
TWO MEN PERISH FROM
SUFFOCATION
And Half a Dozen Others Resuscitated
After Life Seemed Extinct

About 10:30 o'clock last Sunday evening an explosion of gas occurred in No 1 slope at Adrian. The fire boss had made an examination and found it to have occurred about two miles from the pit mouth. Brattices, doors and posts had been knocked down, and he made a report to that effect to Superintendant Gregory at 4 o'clock in the morning. Gregory ordered the track layers to make an examination, and they soon discovered that the mine was not in condition to operate on Monday.

About 7 o'clock Monday morning Superintendent E. W. Robinson arrived. He desired to investigate the trouble, and entered the mine, taking with him Dugal Dinsmore, fire boss, Joseph Lawrence, Isaac Jones, C. Gregory, mine superintendent, and J. M. Brummitt. They walked about two miles under ground. When they reached the seventh north, Dinsmore refused to go further.

Leaving the fourth left heading, Gregory took a different direction from the others. When returning he heard Mr. Robinson rapping on the compressed air pipe, a signal of distress previously agreed upon. By this time a number of others had entered the mine to a distance of about one and a half miles, and had heard the alarm also and endeavored to go to render assistance, but found themselves being overcome with after damp, and had to retreat.

Gregory therefore went to their assistance himself, talking with him two boys, Elias Jones and Will Richardson. He found Robinson and made and effort to get him out, dragging him about a hundred yards. But they all became exhausted from the effects of the deadly damp, and called for help.

David Baird, Will Frew, John Wallace, Dugal Dinsmore and William Forsyth, Sr., went to their assistance. Frew was also overcome with the damp, and had to be carried out to the main heading, where Gregory, Frew, Elias Jones and William Richardson were placed on a car and brought out of the mine.

By this time, about nine o'clock, General Manager L. W. Robinson had arrived. He asked where his brother and the rest of the men were, and was told that they were inside and were undoubtedly dead. It was impossible, he was told, to reach them. Mr. Robinson then took off his overcoat, and taking a map of the mine in his hand, said he proposed to go in, and asked for volunteers to accompany him. About twenty-five men signified their willingness to do so.

Note: Due to the length of this report, the conclusion will appear next week. — T.A.F.

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