The Knox Mine Disaster

On January 22, 1959, miners at the River Slope Mine of the Knox Coal Company in Jenkins Township, Pennsylvania, were digging under the Susquehanna River in search of coal. They were in pursuit of a coal seam that seemed to angle upwards towards the riverbed.

Months earlier, the authorities had forbade the mining company from digging the vein as adequate surveying to determine the thickness of the rocks underneath the river was not carried out. But the company owners kept pushing the miners to dig closer and closer to the river bottom. The mine inspectors believed that there was still 35 feet of rocks to go, which was determined to be of sufficient thickness to hold the weight of the river. In reality, less than six feet of rock remained between the mine and the river bed. Some say, the rocks separating the miners from the Susquehanna River was lesser still—only 19 inches.

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The whirlpool formed by the draining of the Susquehanna river into the underground mine.


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