While America is no stranger to fatal mining accidents, it’s been decades since the nation has experienced one on the scale of the Soma, Turkey, disaster.
According to MSHA, the worst mining accident in U.S. history occurred in 1907 at the Fairmont Coal Co.’s Monongah, W.Va., mine, where an explosion killed 362 men and boys.
“Congress reacted to the disaster at Monongah by passing and toughening mining laws,” MSHA explains in an exhibit on mining disasters. “In 1910, following a decade in which the number of coalmine fatalities exceeded 2,000 annually, Congress established the Bureau of Mines as a new agency in the Department of the Interior. The Bureau was charged with the responsibility to conduct research and to reduce accidents in the coalmining industry.”
Tragically, in 1968, an explosion and fire at the Consol No. 9 mines in Farmington, W.Va., killed 78 men – less than five miles from Monongah.
All photos and captions in this gallery are from MSHA's online exhibit.