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No.9: The 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Riveting. Chilling. Revealing. The story of Farmington Mine No. 9 belongs on everybody’s book shelf. Seventy-eight miners died during a disaster that rocked West Virginia’s coal fields 43 years ago--propelling front page headlines across the USA and a trail of safety concerns across the globe. Bonnie E. Stewart, a brilliant investigative reporter and university professor, refused to let the headlines fade away. Hail her tenacity.”
Bob Dubill, Former Executive Editor, USA TODAY

“Bonnie Stewart has written a remarkable book which deserves wide circulation. She has exhaustively researched all the documentary evidence, bolstered with scores of personal interviews. Her evidence proves without a shadow of doubt that the 78 coal miners who lost their lives in the November 20, 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster were killed because management ignored repeated personal testimony by the Farmington miners that the mine would blow up unless dangerous methane and huge collections of explosive coal dust were curbed. Those miners who repeatedly pointed out these dangers were humiliated for their efforts, and management in its greed for the almighty dollar put on intense pressure for increased production, even disabling alarm and warning systems. This book also provides fuel for those protesting mountain-top removal, by proving that the pressure for more coal must not over-ride the health and safety of human beings. “
Ken Hechler, Former Secretary of State, West Virginia

“With 78 dead and 19 never recovered, the sheer magnitude of the Farmington mine disaster focused national attention on mine safety deficiencies and led to the enactment of the first major corrective legislation in several generations. In the wake of 2010’s Upper Big Branch disaster, Bonnie Stewart’s comprehensive account is a timely reminder that all mine explosions are preventable.”
Cecil E. Roberts, International President, United Mine Workers of America

About the Author

Bonnie E. Stewart is an investigative reporter covering the environment for EarthFix at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Before moving to Portland, she taught journalism at West Virginia University, where she earned tenure and the rank of Associate Professor. She spent most of her reporting career at The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star and reported in California for The Press-Enterprise in Riverside and was a copy editor for The Business Journal Serving Greater Sacramento. She earned a Master's degree in English from California State University and earned a George Polk Award for metropolitan reporting and the National Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service.



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: West Virginia University Press; 1st Edition edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933202785
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933202785
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Curry on November 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No. 9 is another work with a strong local connection. It also gives me yet another lesson in thinking before criticizing.

West Virginia produces a significant portion of coal for the United States. It has done so for about 120 years. Likely, that will also be the case for the next 50 years.

West Virginia history is checkered with mass casualty mine accidents. (Many more miners have suffered injury or death from individual accidents, and that's a shame - both that they suffer and that it takes a lot of simultaneous deaths for anybody to notice industrial dangers.)

One of the "big dogs" of the coal business in West Virginia is Consolidation Coal Company (pronounced "con-SOL"). One of Consol's larger mines of the 20th century was No. 9 at Farmington, Marion County, which is about 7 miles from my home.

On 20 November 1968, 99 men were working the cat-eye (midnight) shift. At 5:30 AM, the west side of the mine exploded. In ensuing days, there were more explosions. 21 miners escaped. 78 died. Of those, 19 still remain in the now sealed mine.

I know several the people from whom author Stewart got her information and many of the players on both sides of the litigation. And so, I was briefly prepared to hold Stewart's biased conclusions to my own, well, biased conclusions. Okay, that's darn poor practice for a reviewer or for anyone who wants the name of being "thoughtful."

Stewart strongly condemns Consol for safety violations which likely led to the explosion. All of those were related to the accumulation of explosive materials in the mine.

I think what bothered me at first was the deep stridency of the author's anti-industry prose before there was any factual development. But then, this is a book and not a courtroom.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Fred-Rock on December 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up at #9 in the 1950's and 1960's and I was a witness at both of the explosions of 1954 and 1968. I lost many freinds both times. I ended up working in the coal mines at Federal #1 at Grant Town Wv and Federal#2 at Blacksville WV. This book had my attention from the begining I recognized names and the actions of many had been told to me all along the history of this man made disaster. The greed and lack of following the safety rules still exist. It is up to the miner to fight still for his indivaul safety rights.

The old company store still stands my mother worked there from the early 1950's till the early 1970's. I remember the miner strikes and all and was a small child that helped my Dad who at the time of the 1954 explosion was the company store manager. We had just left the lamphouse where we had been stocking the candy machines and returned to the store when the mine exploded. In 1968 we had the day off from school I had stayed up late listening to far away radio stations soooo I was going to sleep in but Dad came and woke me up. I told him "Pop there ain't no school let me sleep" he said "Boy get up get down to the store the mine just blew up they may need your help down there" the first face that I saw was a classmate her father didn't come home.

So this book is very meaningful to me and it is well researched and written. I recommend it to anyone who has been around a coal mine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Baker on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author presents shocking information as to the negligence of the company, the corruption of the union, and the inability of the government regulatory agencies to provide a semblance of a safe working environment for the miners. Everyone in Marion County WV was affected by this disaster, now you can read the truth about the cause.
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An excellent account of a very unfortunate day in West Virginia History. My family had a distant connection with this as we were building a water impoundment dam over the hill from the Llewellyn Portal, and one of our bulldozer operaters had a pocket watch narrowly miss his tractor, as it had been blown out of the shaft at the time of the explosion. Some of our drills were the first on the scene to try to get boreholes in to find the survivors and get them air....
too many times the corporations who run businesses like this will always err on the side of their stockholders and not on the side of the workers, we see it all too often today and forget that the cost of the world we live in is often the blood and the deaths of workers here and elsewhere in the world. 2o men are still in the bottom of that mine, and that is where they will await the trump at the end of time.

A very good book and well worth the read.....
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I bought this book because my uncle was killed in the 1968 Farmington Number 9 mine disaster and I wanted to know more about the accident and the events leading up to it. The author did wonderful job preparing the reader with just enough background information to provide a good understanding of the events leading up to the eventful November day, without boring the reader with mindless facts. Her coverage of the eventful day was clear, concise and yet warmingly heartfelt. She took mountains of transcripts and documents and distilled them down to a compelling story of what that last day was like for the miners. I was particularly touched to read the last words that my uncle uttered over the radio just before the explosion. For me reading this book was a healing experience. I recommend this book to anyone who has a connection coal mining in general or the Farmington No. 9 disaster in particular.
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