On February 19, 2006, over a month after the Sago mine disaster, The Charleston Gazette
published an article by reporter Ken Ward Jr. entitled "Mining for truth: Safety laws written in blood." In this timeline, Ward and the team at the Gazette
illustrate a pattern critical to their investigation - that mine safety legislation often follows mining disasters, yet the disasters keep happening because the new legislation is not effectively enforced.
Jan. 27, 1891: 109 die in explosion at Mammouth Mine in Mount Pleasant, PA.
1891: Congress passes first national mine safety law.
1907: Monongah, WV
Dec. 6, 1907: 362 die in explosions at Monongah, WV -- the worst mining accident in U.S. history.
Dec. 19, 1907: 239 die in explosion at Darr Mine, Jacobs Creek, PA.
Nov. 13, 1909: 259 die in fire at the Cherry Mine, Cherry, IL.
1910: Bureau of Mines created.
Jan. 10, 1940: 91 die in explosion at Pond Creek No. 1 Mine, Bartley, WV.
March 16, 1940: 72 die in explosion at Willow Grove No. 10 Mine, St. Clairsville, OH.
July 15, 1940: 63 die in explosion at Sonman Mine, Portage, PA.
Nov. 29, 1940: 31 die in explosion at Nelms Mine, Candiz, OH.
1941: Congress gives Bureau of Mines mine inspection authority.
March 25, 1947: 111 die in explosion at No. 5 mine in Centralia, IL
1947: Congress passes first federal mine safety standards.
Dec. 21, 1951: 119 die in explosion at Orient No. 2 Mine, West Frankfort, IL.
1952: Annual inspections required for some underground mines. Bureau of Mines given limited authority to fine operators.
1966: First national law passes to regulate metal and nonmetal mines.
1968: Farmington, WV
Nov. 20, 1968: 78 die in explosions at Consol No. 9 Mine at Farmington, WV.
1969: Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act approved, requiring inspections of all underground and strip mines and making fines for safety violations mandatory.
Feb. 26, 1972: 125 residents killed by coal waste dam flood at Buffalo Creek, WV.
May 2, 1972: 91 die in silver mine fire at Sunshine Mine at Kellog, ID.
1973: New Mine Enforcement and Safety Administration created within Department of Interior to take over mine safety regulation from Bureau of Mines.
March 9 and 11, 1976: 26 die in two explosions at the Scotia Mine, Ovenfork, KY. The first explosion killed 15 miners. The second explosion occurred during the rescue operations and killed 11 rescuers including 3 inspectors.
1977: New Federal Mine Safety and Health Act moves enforcement Department of Labor and combines regulation of coal and noncoal mines under same law. Also, Congress passes new federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to regulate strip mining.
1972: Buffalo Creek, WV
Dec. 19, 1984: 27 die in fire at the Wilberg Mine, Orangeville, UT.
Sept. 23, 2001: 13 die in explosions at Jim Walter Resources No. 5 Mine at Brookwood, AL.
Jan. 2, 2006: 12 die following explosion at the Sago Mine, Tallmansville, WV.
Jan. 19, 2006 2 die in fire at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine at Melville, WV.
May 20, 2006: 5 die following explosion at the Darby Mine No. 1, Harlan County, KY.
June 15, 2006: President Bush signs Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act into law.
Sources: U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Code, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Research: Ken Ward Jr. and Tara Tuckwiller