Foustwell, PA Bermind-White Coal Mine Flood, Apr 1907


JOHNSTON, Pa., April 27.—Twelve men, all foreigners, are reported to be imprisoned in the Foustwell mine of the Bermind-White Coal Company in Somerset county. Their fate is not known, nor will it be until a vast quantity of water has been pumped out and this may require a couple days.

Meanwhile there is the wildest excitement among the relatives and friends of the imprisoned men.

Pumps have been going steadily since the accident but they are not making much headway and it is not known how great a body of water remained to be removed. The cause of the flooding of the mines will not be known until the rescuing party can gain an entrance.

It is believed the men at their work tapped and old mine that was full of water in which case there would probably be no chance for their escape, while if the water rose more slowly from a bursted [sic] pipe they would have a chance of safety by climbing up through the airshaft.

Even in the latter case it is doubtful they could survive for lack of air.
At 2:45 o’clock Mine Superintendent Meighan, who is the head of the rescuing party, succeeded in getting a signal over the pump line and it is now known that some of the men are alive.

It was then said all but seven had been accounted for.

Reno Evening Gazette, Reno, NV 27 Apr 1907



Workmen Entombed at Foustwell Signal Surface by Tapping on Pipes


Rescuers Puzzled by Telegraph Code of Imprisoned Men—Their Signal Consists of Seven Successive Taps, Then Pause.

Johnstown, Pa., April 29.—Despite the fact that 12 large pumps have been in operation for two days at Mine No. 38 of the Berwind-White company at Foustwell, where seven men have been imprisoned since Friday by a flood of water from abandoned workings, so little progress has been made that the miners may not be reached until too late to save their lives.

All day the tapping on the compressed air pipes has continued. The rescuing party is greatly puzzled over the manner in which these taps are given. Invariably the number is seven. Whether the miners on the other side of the flooded headings mean that they are in No. 7 heading south off second right heading or whether they mean that seven men are living, is merely a matter of conjecture. There is no possible way of reaching them in the No. 7 south heading until the main heading is pumped dry.

The flood was due to the breaking away of a wall between north and south headings off first and second right headings. The south headings off first were all filled with water. Men had been ordered to make the opening. Just why no one realized that the quantity of imprisoned water was great enough to occasion much damage will be a matter for official investigation.

The men who set off the explosion were able to reach safety. Those on the other side of the chamber were caught. The men caught were all in the employ of Michael Boyla, a contractor who alone knows their names.

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