The Carolina Coal Mine Explosion

Burned coal fire close up

A massive explosion rocked the small town of Coal Glen, N.C on the morning of May 27, 1925. Touched off by either coal dust or natural gas, the blast came from the Deep River Coal Field, where local miners were working nearly a thousand feet underground. The blow was devastating: fifty-three miners lost their lives and the mine has remained closed to this day.

The event did speed passage of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act, making North Carolina the forty-fourth state to pass such legislation. The majority of the families were dependent on the income of their husbands, sons and fathers working in the mine. The Act “guarantees compensation for injuries by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, without having to prove negligence on the part of the employer.”

Reporter Ben Dixon McNeill covered the catastrophe for Raleigh’s News & Observer. His account was featured on the front page of the newspaper for five straight days, including his first-person account of his own descent into the mine on May 31. A total of seven photographs were featured with his articles, many with the caption “need no explanation.”

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