Name: Charles Keen
Birth: 12 JAN 1904 in Slate Creek, Buchanan Co., VA
Census: 28 APR 1910 Grundy, Buchanan Co., Virginia
Death: 22 APR 1938 in Red Jacket Mine Explosion/Virginia of Red Jacket Mine Explosion
Birth: 12 JAN 1906 in Slate Creek, Buchanan Co., VA
Death: 1936 in Buchanan Co., VA
Charley Keen and Howard Varney, buried on Keen Mountain Monday, a short distance from the scene of the explosion.
A terrific dust explosion wrecked the Red Jacket Coal Companyís mine at Keen Mountain, Virginia, Friday at 4:45 P.M. This was the first mine disaster for Buchanan Countyís new coalfield development and was also the nationís major disaster for 1938.
Eyewitnesses of the catastrophe say that there was a deafening detonation and a great column of black smoke followed by blazes of fire several hundred feet in length issued from the mouth of the mine high on the mountain.
Everyone in the vicinity of keen Mountain and Hanger knew that a most dreadful calamity had befallen the mine and miners. They knew too, that it was time for change of shifts from the day to night crews. With the average persons everything soon became confusion. But for the fast thinking men of the community phone calls were hurriedly sent out for rescue squads from all mines in the county. As well as from many of the adjoining counties. These...were quickly repon...and had the traffic...well in hand. Within hours after the accident there were two thousand people...near the state highway. No one except directors of the work, rescue workers and police officers were allowed to go near the entrance to the mine.
Motorman J. L. Blevins and brakeman Coy Reed were killed instantly at the entrance to the mine. They were oiling and preparing the motor to carry more miners inside. Clarence Combs and K. W. Elams who were seriously hurt. Both men are still patients in the Mattie Williams Hospital at Richlands, Virginia. No one knew at the time of the explosion just how many men had entered the mine for the night shift. It was first reported that there were approximately seventy-five, but a further check revealed that only forty-three men had actually entered the mine.
The heat of the mine was so intense...In the meantime temporary fan facilities were installed, as the regular fan equipment had been blown away. Much time was consumed in preparing to make an entry as it was necessary to use thousands of yards of brattice cloth along the entries as all brattice was gone. much of this work was most difficult to perform but there were plenty workers to carry on. With a current of fresh air flowing along the main entry the rescue party entered and at 3:00 A. M. had recovered ten bodies. These were placed on cars and the shay engine, which hauls supplies up the mountain carried them to a building near the tipple for identification. At 5:30 A. M. eight more bodies were brought out of the mine and carried down by the supply engine
Further search revealed that all who were in the mine at the time of the explosion had been instantly killed and all bodies had been located. There was no special reason for hurry with the rescue work since the worst had been discovered. It was necessary to halt the rescue work and free the mine of foul air as two of the rescue workers had been overcome.
At 8 P. M. Saturday the remaining twenty five bodies were carried down the mountain to the identification building.
Doctors, nurses and ambulances were rushed to the scene within a very few minutes after the report of the accident. They remained on duty throughout the night ready to offer any aid or assistance that might be needed. The ambulances conveyed the bodies to the Richlands Funeral Home, at Richlands, as soon as they had been identified. Several morticians were called in to assist this firm in preparing so many bodies. This firm was responsible for the embalming and distribution of the victims in all forty-five cases.
Organizations of every kind came or sent representatives to the scene of the disaster. Red Cross workers, Salvation Army, American Legion, Boy Scouts, Police and State Traffic Officers were on the grounds ready and willing to do anything that could be of any assistance whatsoever.
The Red Jacket Coal Company ordered their store opened for supplies to make sandwiches, coffee and other refreshments for the workers. The American Legion Post, of Grundy, set up a sandwich and coffee center near the mine and fed the rescue workers throughout the night. Early Saturday morning the Boy Scouts came on the scene and took up the work of the Legion.....
Father: Thomas C. Keen b: JUL 1865 in Buchanan County, VA
Mother: Feriba Matney b: 05 MAY 1873 in Virginia
Jocy McGinnis b: 1905 in Martin County, Kentucky
- Omar Keen b: 1925 in West Virginia
- Allalee Keen b: 1928 in West Virginia
- Bobby Keen b: 1930 in West Virginia
- Floretta Keen b: 1932 in West Virginia
- Living Keen
- Glen Keen b: ABT 1935 in Buchanan Co., VA