coal mining

Sunday Creek Coal Company

Millfield, O.  - I found this place completely by accident. My buddy had to go somewhere in southern Ohio, and it was a beautiful day, so I grabbed my camera and called it a road trip. We were somewhere down near Athens and we see a sign that just says “Mine Disaster ->”. We turn and follow the signs through these back roads and see a smokestack peeking up over the trees. There was a historical marker right near the stack so I hop out and tell my buddy ill call him in a while.

Turns out this is a place where 82 men died. Four executives that made big news, four of their guests, and 73 miners. In the group of 73 working men there were lots of fathers and sons, I read the obituaries. There was a huge rescue attempt, including self contained breathing apparatuses, but I suspect they wouldn't have pulled out all of the stops if the owner of the company wasn't down in that hole. The coal companies historically didn't give a fuck about the miners; it is said that if you killed a man you kept your job, if you killed a mule you were fired. Mules were expensive, men were expendable.

It was kind of disturbing being down there by myself, knowing I was standing on top of the mine that took all those lives. I've been in some haunting places, but this one made me feel uneasy the entire time. After I photographed what was left of the mine, I walked through the town of Millfield. You could tell it died when they closed the mine. The homes that still stood were original coal camp houses the company built long before they mined out the area. People live there still; it reminded me of walking down Steel Street, just more poverty.

Here is a very detailed account of the disaster, along with a full list of the men killed. The amount of people with the same last name kind of makes me want to throw up.