Farmington, W.Va. – On November 20, 1968 – 45 years ago Wednesday – an explosion rocked Consol’s No. 9 Mine in Marion County, shaking the ground more than 10 miles away in Fairmont. There were 78 miners who lost their lives that day, and 19 of them were never recovered.
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant has been hundreds of feet under the Marion County mountains with the men who now work in the massive Loveridge Coal Mine – mining the coal that should have been mined by the men who died at No. 9.
“The miners I met at Loveridge have a deep respect for the miners who lost their lives at No. 9,” Secretary Tennant said. “The miners now say that this is No. 9’s coal, and to never forget what happened in 1968. It shows the true brotherhood formed by all coal miners in West Virginia, and even though the disaster happened 45 years ago it is still very real to them and they are reminded of it every day. In Marion County and all across West Virginia, coal mining has always been a part of life, and I grew up with people whose fathers were killed at No. 9.”
In August Secretary Tennant was inside the Loveridge Mine, entering at the Metz Portal – just a few miles from the No. 9 Miners Memorial. After taking an elevator down an 800 foot shaft and a 15 minute mantrip ride to the active mining site she spent more than three hours underground, meeting the men who operate the continuous miner and the longwall miner.
“These are the people who mine this coal and keep our economy strong,” Secretary Tennant said. “It is impossible to speak of West Virginia history and not mention the coal miner. And it’s impossible to speak of our future and not mention that coal is vital to our economic stability as part of an ‘all of the above,’ successful energy policy.
“The people of West Virginia will remember what happened in Farmington in 1968. We will continue to honor their memory and their families by always working toward making coal mining, which is inherently dangerous but absolutely vital, as safe as it can possibly be. Losing even one coal miner is too many.”
The Farmington No. 9 Disaster lead to the development of new coal mine safety laws, ending in the passage of the landmark 1969 Coal Mine Safety and Health Act. That legislation created the precursor agency to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), required more inspections, and improved health and safety standards.
RIGHT CLICK HERE and then select "Save Target As" to download video of Secretary Tennant underground at the Loveridge Mine in Marion County.