60 Years Ago - Flood Traps Thirty Men In Knox Mine
Jan. 22, 1959
River floods mine in Port Griffith
The Susquehanna River burst through the roof of the River Slope of the Knox Coal Co. in Port Griffith, killing three men and trapping 30 about 250 feet underground.
Seven men working in the Eagle Shaft were able to crawl through the water and debris to freedom. Louis Randaza of Pittston led the seven out of the mine, and told rescue workers that several men were alive but trapped in a section of mine not affected by the floodwaters. With this information, rescue efforts — led by state Deputy Secretary of Mines Daniel Connelly — were concentrated at the Eagle Shaft as a place to reach the trapped miners.
Connelly and the state police reached out to the Lehigh Valley Railroad to send gondola cars to the scene. Connelly was hoping to use the railcars to plug the giant hole in the riverbed.
Railroad workers labored to create tracks to send the railcars into the river. Twenty cars were sent in and were immediately sucked into the whirlpool that led into the mine. Later, another 20 cars were sent into the river, followed by tons of wood shaving, in an effort to plug the hole.
In the early evening, Myron Thomas, assistant mine foreman from Taylor, led a group of 24 miners to safety. As the group was greeted by rescue workers, cheers of joy went up from those gathered along the riverbank.
According to officials, the mine had employed some 80 workers over the previous three years, after it was purchased by Louis Fabrizio of Yatesville.
On Jan. 23, it was announced that 12 men were still missing and presumed dead. The 12 were John Baloga, William Sinclair, Donald Stefanides, Samuel Altieri, Francis Burns, Eugene Ostroski, Joseph Gizenski, Charles Featherman, Herman Zelonis, Frank Orloski, Benjamin Boyer and Dominick Koveleski.
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