Illinois November 14, 2017
One Of The Worst Disasters In U.S. History Happened Right Here In Illinois
Over one hundred years ago, one of the most terrible things that happened in Illinois claimed the lives of hundreds of people. It was the worst disaster residents could imagine and its effects still last today.
Learn how a small town became the location of one of the worst mass deaths in the United States. Keep scrolling for the harrowing details.
Just north of the Illinois River and Spring Valley sits the village of Cherry with less than 500 residents. A mine opened there in 1905 to supply trains pulling through the area.
The impressive mine consisted of three horizontal veins that went deep into the earth. Most miners were immigrants who spoke little English. Some were as young as 11 years old.
The third worst disaster in coal miner history happened here on Saturday, November 13, 1909. Due to a power outage earlier in the week, kerosene lamps were being used, and a cart full of hay caught fire deep within the mine.
Miners attempted to remove the burning cart but only spread the flames more. They had to close the shafts to smother the flame, but in doing so, caused "black damp" to suffocate the miners still inside. "Black damp" is a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
Of the near 500 men in the mine that day, 200 crawled out to safety or were rescued. Many even returned to help others, though some of these heros perished in the flames.
Known as the "eight day men," there was a group of miners who made a wall to protect themselves from the flames. They went just over an entire week underground without food or fresh water before being rescued. All but one of these 21 men lived.
In total, 259 men lost their lives due to the worst distaster in Illinois history. This event sparked new legislation for stronger safety regulations for mines, and monuments were erected to memorialize those who lost their lives.
For more historical stories about our state, check out
nine more horrifying disasters that took place in Illinois.
This isn’t the only bad thing that has happened in our state? What do you think was the worst disaster to hit Illinois?