NOTE: Click any image to see a larger view.
Eighty-four years ago, one of the worst mining disasters in the nation’s history happened here in Athens County. The historical marker near the site reads:
Millfield Coal Mine Disaster, November 5, 1930
Ohio’s worst mine disaster occurred in this Sunday Creek Coal Company mine when an explosion killed 82 persons. Among the dead were the company’s top executives who were in the mine inspecting new safety equipment. Nine hours after the explosion, rescuers discoverd 19 miners alive underground three miles from the main shaft. The disaster attracted national press coverage and international attention, and it prompted improvement of Ohio’s mine safety laws in 1931.
This marker was placed along Millfield Road in 1980 by the Ohio Historical Society.
The site was listed on the National Register of Historical Places on May 23, 1978. It’s only in recent years that the land has been closed to foot traffic. Last year, part of a collasped shaft was filled with concrete. The old mine is located on private property and today a gate blocks access beyond a small pulloff.
The train track that carried coal from the mine crosses the Sunday Creek near Millfield.
In 1977, a memorial pamphlet was printed by the Athens Messenger with maps and other details of the disaster. You can find more images and articles on their website. The websites Genealogy Trails and The Little Cities Archive also have a collection of images and newspaper clippings. In October, 1997 the Ohio Historical Society published an article on the disaster in its magazine, Timeline called “Death Underground: The Millfield Mining Tragedy.”
These maps from the magazine Timeline show the location of equipment and miners at the time of the explosion.
The mine was located on the eastern edge of Millfield in Dover Township.
The mine had been in operation for about 20 years at the time of the explosion. It reopened a month after the accident and remained opened until 1945. The last known survivor, Sigmund Kozma, died in 2009. He was 97 years old.
A complete list of those killed in the explosion.