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Hard Rock Lead and Zinc Mining Safety Information


Miami News Record, Miami Oklahoma - Dec 30, 1928, Pg. 6, Col. 6

Figures compiled by the United States Department of Commerce show that the number of fatal accidents in the coal mines of Oklahoma has been more than twice the number in the lead and zinc mines of the state from 1923 to 1928.

Complete statistics are not available in either industry, but the following figures are from reports issued by the Department of Commerce. For the years 1923 to 1926, inclusive, there were 157 fatalities in the coal mines, or an average of 39.25 per year. For the six years, 1923 to 1928, inclusive, there were 93 fatalities in the lead and zinc mines of the state, or an average of 15.5 per year. (The 1928 figures are from local statistics and not from the Department of Commerce.)

The number of men employed in the two industries are approximately the same, as shown by the following figures:

Men employed in coal mines Men employed in lead and zinc mines

The records of the two branches of mining show that operators of lead and zinc mines must have exercised exceptionally good care in protecting their employees. In making comparisons it must also be taken into consideration that there are three district mine inspectors in the coal mining areas of the state aside from chief mine inspector, while in the lead and zinc district there has been but one inspector, and this one, prior to the last two years, has been a coal miner, located in the coal districts, making only occasional visits to the lead and zinc district.

The record of all kinds of accidents in the lead and zinc mines of Oklahoma makes a good showing compared with similar records of metal mines in other states, and there is probably no other mining district where as complete records are kept of all kinds of accidents, no matter how minor they may be, as are those of the lead and zinc mines of the Tri-State district.


Miami News Record, Miami Oklahoma - July 21, 1927, Pg. 7, Col. 6

Since the first of the year there have been 22 fatal accidents in the mines of the Tri-State district. In checking these accidents, it was found that only five of them occurred in mines which had safety engineers. This is undeniable proof that the accident prevention work being done by these engineers is bringing results.

Unfortunately, accidents will happen even where the greatest efforts are put forth to prevent them, but the supervision of safety engineers has cut down the accident rate in the mines where they are employed.


Six miners killed at the West Seventh Street Mine at Joplin Missouri, March 1909. The dead: Harry Ritter, Burt Ritter, Gilbert Ritter, Joe Morrison, Bob Warren and A. C. Griffith. The Ritter men were brothers. They were killed when a slab fell.


Five Miners Killed at One Time at the Southern Mine near Treece Kansas - January 31, 1939 - Note: Jess Crossland, Frank Porter, John Anderson, John Frederick McCumber, James Orval Campbell and Harry Burtrum were the five miners killed.

“Pillar Trimmed Too Close”

Snodgrass said a pillar supporting the roof “had been trimmed too close” to hold the weight of the slab. He estimated the fall of the slab at 40 feet. Underground workers dug feverishly last night. Instructed to ease the fast tempo which they set on first entering the mine, the rescue crews could not resist the urge of pressing on as quickly as possible. They tired rapidly toward midnight, the strain beginning to tell on the valiant shovelers and more volunteers were summoned to the shaft by sheriff Clance Beger of Cherokee county Kansas.

Several hundred persons converged on the Dines property and more than 100 stayed through a greater part of the night. There were few remaining at the mouth of the shaft, however, when Campbell’s body was hoisted out this morning.


Miami News Record-Miami Oklahoma - Oct 25, 1953, Pg. 11, Col. 5

The annual report of John M. Malloy, chief Oklahoma mine inspector shows that three men died in Ottawa county Oklahoma lead and zinc mines, during the fiscal year which ended last Jun 30, 1953. Malloy’s booklet includes figures on all types of mining in Oklahoma. The report, recently off the presses, also gives production figures for the district No. 4, Ottawa county Oklahoma in the inspection program. Joe Hobson of Cardin Oklahoma is the district’s inspector and prepared his phase of the records.

Mines in the county over the 12 month period produced 27,797,071 tons of rock containing lead and zinc concentrates. During that period, 834 men were employed by mining companies. They worked a total of 10,463 days.

The figures are not for the entire Tri-State mining field, only the sizeable Ottawa county portion. The report lists the three fatalities as William Robert O’Byrne, a drill helper from Picher Oklahoma; Albert Marvin Brown, machine man, of Hallowell Kansas and James Franklin Davis, a leader operator from Chetopa Kansas. All were killed falling slabs of rock. [Note: This report is not correct. Bill O’Byrne was not killed by a falling slab] There were 64 non-fatal accidents.

The Tragedy

Joplin Globe, Joplin Missouri - Mar 20, 1926

The day’s work is over, the holes have been drilled,

The tools are stacked out of the way,

The powder, fuses and the caps are brought down.

Marking the end of the day.

At the side of the drift is the long tamping bar, with a

Metal point forming one end,

And soon they will use it to fill in the holes; the powder

charge home it will send.

Each dynamite stick’s placed on the sharp pointed rod and

pushed way down deep in the hole,

And the dangerous cap with that very last stick should

Be tamped with the blunt part of the pole.

But the hard to hold cap fits best on the point,

Forcing powder and cap to their spot.

Usually the man who is handling the long tamping rod,

places the charge with practice and ease to its slot.

But if the sharp pointed instrument fractures the cap;

the blast prematurely is made,

And out in the morgue on a cold marble slab, the form

of another man’s laid.

Oh! Can’t we remember that danger is near? That one

false movement may leave

A widow and orphans and friends here below, an untimely

leaving to grieve?

Take a hand, fall in line with the effort that’s made, to

make things more safe in the ground;

Don’t forget to look out for the accident cause–you can

find them if you just look around,

Make an effort to save someone else from the grave; life

is dear to the whole human race.

And by doing your bit, in your place you will fit, and a

far brighter future you’ll face.


Miami News Record, Miami Oklahoma - Oct 19, 1962, Pg. 1, Col. 5

In this article it is stated at one place that there had been 40 fatalities at the Velie Lion Mine and another place in the article stated there had been 41 fatalities since 1916. In researching fatalities, 17 have been found, plus one fatality at the Velie Leopard Mine. Search articles on:

Velie Lion Mine:
Allen Blunk
Everett McClain
E. Church
John Cecil
Clifford Shrum
James Fate Ferguson
James ‘Jim’ France
Bill Wilson
Raymond Gray
Hugh Bertriam Grimes
Clarence Raymond Mahanes
Bennie Masters
William C. MacCready
Joe McGeary
Thomas Patten
Roy Patton
Clarence A. Thompson
Velie Leopard Mine:
J. B. Stringer
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