Hello, everyone. It’s Jennifer Uhlarik. Welcome to 2015! Can you believe it? A new year, a clean slate. I’m excited for what the year will bring.
|The Orient 2 Mine, West Frankfort, Illinois|
December 21, 1951, was like any other day for the miners, except for being the last shift before a scheduled shut-down for the Christmas holidays. The day shift ended and came out of the mine, my dad’s father among them. Meanwhile, 252 night shift workers entered and took their places. My mom’s father had been working three jobs at the time and took an unheard-of-for-him day off. The “coincidental” choice saved his life.
|Tunnel inside of a coal mine|
|Rescue crews at work|
|John L Lewis after |
touring the explosion site
On a more positive note, due to this explosion, safety reforms did begin to come to the mining industry. The day after the explosion, UMWA union boss John L Lewis toured the mine, then testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee of Mining Safety. Due in large part to this testimony, Congress passed the Federal Coal Mine Safety Act, which standardized safety practices for coal mines everywhere. It was signed into law by President Truman in 1952.