We are all saddened by the recurrent mining accidents, especially those of us who have worked or are currently working as miners. I began working in and around coal mines from 1939 to 1959. During this time there was an explosion at Bartley No. 1 mine in McDowell County W.Va., killing 94 miners and another at Farmington, W.Va., killing 74 miners. From 1940 to 1990 there were numerous other accidents resulting in the deaths of other miners. The past 15 years have seen an improvement in the number of accidents, but the death of even one miner is too many. The mining of coal, especially in the deep mines, can be unpredictable and dangerous.
After leaving the coal mines in 1959, I returned after eight years and worked from 1969 to 1973 for Allied Chemical in Welch, W.Va. This was a great company to work for as they emphasized educating their employees. A group of employees, including myself, were sent to West Virginia University for nine months of training for mine inspector, mine foreman or shift foreman. After nine months we appeared before a state board and I passed for mine inspector. My greatest concern after inspection a mine was an explosion occurring the following shift after inspection. This weighed heavily on my mind. I retired as a mine inspector in 1973 at the age of 55.
The coal mines were good to me and my family, which consisted of four daughters and two sons. We had two daughters in college, a son and daughter in high school, and a son and daughter in grade school. I thank the Lord for this good-paying job which allowed me to properly educate my children.
My opinion of mining in general: I feel the politicians who have been in place for too many years and have no fear of replacement, have let the miners down by not instituting legislation for mining safety and education. They have allowed the state to deteriorate to the lowest level of any state in the union. Of course, now the politicians want to shift the blame to someone else and it is possible this has happened.
The remarks I have made in this letter are meant to be constructive criticism. My comments are based on personal experience and information from the news media and not based on hatred!
Mason L. Maynard