On December 9, 1911, just nine years after the Fraterville Mine explosion, disaster struck the Coal Creek watershed again. Of the 89 men and boys who entered the mine that day, only 5 survived the explosion and resulting noxious gases (afterdamp). Fortunately, a shortage of coal cars had kept an additional 126 miners on the surface that day awaiting the arrival of the coal cars.
The 5 miners rescued from the explosion were found by apparatus crews and engineers of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, formed in 1910 to improve mine safety.
|Notice left on door by barricaded men, Cross Mountain No. 1 mine, Briceville, TN, December 9, 1911. (From Bureau of Mines report)||Five men were rescued when this barricade was opened by rescuers 58 hours after explosion, Cross Mountain No. 1 mine, Briceville, TN, December 9, 1911. NOTE: Caged canary used to detect noxious gases during rescue efforts. (From Bureau of Mines report).|
|Map of explosion area, Cross Mountain No. 1 mine, Briceville TN, December 9, 1911. (From Bureau of Mines report).||Farewell message written by Alonzo Wood before he died in the Cross Mountain Disaster (from Bureau of Mines Report).|
The body of Eugene Ault was the last one recovered. The farewell message found on his body reads below. (Photo is from history field trip on 91st anniversary of Cross Mountain Mine Disaster)
(Eugene Ault's farewell message)
Dear Father, Mother, Brothers, and Sisters, I guess I come to die. Well I started out and come to the side track and Alonzo Wood is with me. Air is not much now. Well, all be good and I aim to pray to God to save me and all of you. Tell Clarence to wear out my clothes, give him my trunk. I guess I'll never be with you any more. So goodbye. Give them all my love. Give Bessie Robbins a stickpin of mine. Tell her goodbye.
(Note that his elaborate tombstone has been toppled and lies in pieces around his grave).
|Monument in Circle Cemetery is "Item P" on Coal Creek Motor Discovery Trail Guide.|
Other cemeteries (and the number of Cross Mountain miners buried there) include:
(1) Longfield (1)
Dayton (1) Marlow (2)
Foust (1) Maryville (2)
Indian Creek (2) Pemberton (2)
Jacksboro (2) Pleasant Hill (2)
Junior (2) Robins (2)
Leach (4) Sharps (4)
Leinarts (1) White Pine (1)
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