On November 5, 1930, a Wednesday morning tour by Sunday Creek Coal Company officials and customer reps was cut short by a massive underground explosion. Eighty-two men lost their lives in what remains the worst mining disaster in Ohio history. Company officials had wanted to display the safety improvements made to the recently acquired mine.
Before the disaster, Mine Number 6 was said to be the Sunday Creek Coal Company’s best and safest mine in the Hocking Valley. The explosion took place around 11:45 a.m., about 10,200 feet away from the mine’s main shaft. There were about 250 people at the mine when the explosion occurred, many of whom were able to escape using ventilation shafts to exit the mine.
Investigations later revealed that a fallen wire had produced an electric arc in an unused part of the mine. The electricity ignited methane gas, causing a massive explosion. Investigators faulted poor ventilation and an accumulation of coal dust as contributing factors in the severity of the explosion. After the gas had been cleared and repairs made, production resumed a month later.
The mine was permanently closed in May 1945. The Sunday Creek Coal Company cited increased labor costs and strikes coupled with stagnant coal prices as justification to shutter the mining operation.
The tipple and various buildings fell victim to the ravages of time and now only the chimney and a few building walls remain standing. A memorial plaque stands at the entrance to the former mine property on Millfield Road.
The main entrance into the mine collapsed in 2012, creating a sinkhole. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources undertook a major project to seal the shaft in 2013, and now no trace of the tipple remains. A Historic American Engineering Survey of the remaining ruins was conducted by the U.S. Government in December, 2013, updating the condition of the mine site.
Know Before You Go
The village of Millfield is four miles north of Chauncey on Ohio Route 13. A large sign directs travelers to the Millfield Mine Disaster Memorial in town.
Those interested in viewing the mine site itself will turn onto Millfield Road from Main Street and go one mile. The black roadside plaque is right beside the road entrance to the former mine property.
Winter would be the best time to visit as the trees and brush will be dormant and the ruins will be readily visible. Caution is advised as the old (1912) chimney is shedding bricks! Stumbling hazards abound with bricks and blocks strewn across the property. The mine site is private property! Despite the lack of security guards or a locked gate, it is not open to the public. Please view from a safe distance.
Logging operations are taking place on the hillside above the mine, so be watchful of large trucks traversing the property.