West Virginia Coal Mines
As early as 1865, a bill was introduced in Congress to create a Federal Mining Bureau.
However, little was done until a series of serious mine disasters occurred after the turn of the
century. In response to these disasters, the public demaned Federal action to stop the
excessive loss of life in America's mines.
The first Federal mine safety statute applies to mines in U.S. Territories. Its provisions cover underground
coal mine ventilation and bar mine operators from employing children who are under the age of 12.
1888 - 1910
Roof falls, haulage accidents, and explosions kill thousands of miners. The deadliest year is 1907
when 3,242 miners perish. Over 360 are killed in the Monongah explosion, the deadliest mining
accident in U.S. history.
Congress establishes the Bureau of Mines.
Congress passes the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act a year after 257 miners die in four separate explosions.
1947 - 1951
The Centralia explosion claims 111 victims in 1947. In 1951, just before Christmas, 119 miners die in an
explosion at the Orient No. 2 Mine.
Congress passes the Federal Coal Mine Safety Act.
The 1952 Act is amended. Congress passes the Federal Metal and Nonmetallic Mine Safety Act.
The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 takes effect a year after an explosion at
the Consol No 9 Mine at Farmington, West Virginia kills 78 miners.
1972 - 1976
Ninety-one miners die in a fire in 1972 at the Sunshine Mine at Kellogg, Idaho. In 1976, a pair
of explosions at the Scotia Mine at Ovenfork, Kentucky kill 26 people.
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 combines coal and metal/nonmetal health and
safety law into one piece of legislation.