Cincinnati Mine Disaster
April 23, 1912
In striking contrast with the heartrending scenes of Wednesday around the pit mouths of the Cincinatti mine was the almost holiday appearance of that section yesterday. Hundreds of morbid curiosity seekers gathered around the entrances to the charnel house. The bright dresses of the women-of which the crowd was largely made up-made a great splash of color against the somber darkness of the wooded hills.
After the secret removal of the bodies from the pit mouth to the Monongahela morgue ta about 4:00 yesterday morning the solemn vigil, which had been kept by the hundreds of bereaved relatives, was suddenly ended. It was immediately taken up a long, sickening pilgrimage, of death to the morgue house.
With their eyes fastened steadily on the roofs of the City of Corpses-Monongahala-which could be seen around the broad bend of the Monongahela River in the rose sunlight, the widows, orphans, brothers and sisters took up the march over the three miles of rough tortuous roads. Refused sight of their loved ones, they almost mobbed the morgue. Mothers with babies in arms and tugging at their dresses, all weeping and moaning aloud, made these three miles seem a living episode from Dante's Inferno.
An unusual story of the love of a foster-father for his adopted son-a love which made him plunge repeatedly into the gas-filled entries of the mine-was one of the pathetic features in the dark pages of death and suffering. This man was Alexander Leach, aged 40, of Mingo Creek. He joined the first rescue party that went into the Mingo slope and worked without pause from Wednesday noon until late last night in an effort to find the body of his adopted son, Henry Leach, aged 20, a driver.
In all the homes in that death ridden section that suffered from the death of members of the families, it is probably that in none did death take as large a quota as in the home of Andy Carnack in the "Cincinnati Patch," near Courtney. Among the missing were Carnack and three boarders, Tony, Peter and Steve, being the only names of those that could be gathered from the frenzied women of the family.
One of the greatest of all the heroes who were made such in the twinkling of an eye was William McColligan, ages 33 of Jacobs Creek, the helmet man. He was the only rescuer who is known to have lost his life.
Although the silence imposed upon all the employees by the mine officials prevent the publication of the facts of the struggle and the losing fight by the rescue crew when their apparatus failed has been told by rescuers to make the tale of McColligan's death dramatic.
McColligan, who is an electrician, went in with a rescue party from the Mingo entrance Wednesday. The party was in the mine for hours. It had penetrted to a great distance, stringing telephone wires along as they went. Finally the helmets and air supply failed. The four members were partially overcome. One man was finally able to telephone to the surface for help before the blackdamp gripped him and a relief party went in. But McColligan was dead. Theothers are expected to live.