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Mt Carmel, PA Tornado Hits Coal Co Breaker, Jul 1891


Its Fatal Work Near Mount Carmel, Penn.

A Coal Breaker Demolished and Seven Men Killed.

The Patterson Coal Company's breaker, one mile from Mount Carmel, Penn., was crushed to pieces by a tornado soon after 3 o'clock on a recent afternoon. At the time the wind struck the colliery it was in full operation. Suddenly there was a crash and the huge structure swayed to and fro for a moment and then fell to the ground, a mass of ruins. When the crash came many of the employees rushed from the breaker panic stricken, while others who were less fortunate were caught in the flying timbers and crushed to death. The killed are: J. N. BLOSSOM, aged forty, of Hawley, Penn.; B. DODSON, aged thirty-five, of Shickshinney, Penn.; WALTER ROBERT, aged twenty-seven of Luzerne Borough, Penn.; and WILLIAM LODGE, aged twenty-four, of Luzerne Borough; the bodies of three others, all Italians, whose names cannot be learned, were removed from the ruins that evening. Five persons were injured, two probably fatally.
The breaker was situated on the summit of the mountain. It ran almost due east and west and was about 800 feet long and the highest point was 165 feet. LODGE, ROBERTS and two of the unknown men were slaters and were engaged in roofing the breaker at the time of the accident. The other two killed were carpenters and met their death while at work on the inside. Soon after noon the sky in the north became black and the darkness grew in intensity. The men perched on their high tower looked at the advancing storm, expecting to descend in time to avoid the rain. Suddenly there was a flash of lightning, a thunder peal that shook all the neighborhood followed, and the next minute the terrible wind gust gathered up the great structure as though it were a feather, and whirling it around, dashed it to ruin. The men were mangled almost beyond recognition.
After the accident occurred the wildest excitement followed, and the employees as well as the people living near by flocked to the scene of disaster and aided those who were fortunate enough to escape in removing the dead and injured from the wrecked breaker.
The storm was one of the worst that has ever visited the Mahanoy Valley. A passenger on the Philadelphia and Reading express train which passed through the storm, said: “When the train reached Locust Summit on its way to Philadelphia I saw the storm approaching from the southwest. We had not gone far when it struck the train. A panic followed and it was feared that the entire train would be hurled from the track. Trees were uprooted on either side and the noise produced by the rushing wind reminded me of the roaring of musketry. The storm seemed to increase in violence every moment until the train reached Gordon, some miles east, when it abated. After the wind had subsided it began to rain. The lightning was awful.”
The damage wrought by the storm will probably reach $150,000, including the breaker, which was owned and operated by Pittsburg, Philadelphia and Wilkesbarre people.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1891-07-03

article | by Dr. Radut