The Monongah mining disaster, 1907 - Steven Johns

Picture of rescuers outside mine number 6
Picture of rescuers outside mine number 6

A short account of the worst mining disaster in US history, which killed over 360 mostly Italian migrant workers and which was the inspiration for Father's Day events.

Submitted by Steven. on August 1, 2016

On Friday 6 December, 1907, 367 men were at work in the Fairmont Coal Company pits 6 and 8 in West Virginia.

At 10:28 AM explosion occurred killing nearly all of the workers. Rescuers were only able to save one Polish miner, and four Italians escaped.

A local woman named Grace Golden Clayton, concerned for the over 1000 children who lost their father in the disaster suggested to her minister that he honour all fathers at a Sunday service, which he did on 5 July 1908.

The following year a Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd attempted to establish an official equivalent to Mother's Day for fathers, which was then implemented statewide in 1910. It grew from there was established as a federal holiday in 1972.


  • Tropea, Joseph (2013). "Monongah Revisited: Sources, Body Parts, and Ethnography". WEST VIRGINIA HISTORY, New Series, vol. 7, no. 2 (Fall 2013): 63–92.
  • retrieved on 08/01/16