Historical Marker Commemorates Mine Tunnel Disaster

WILKES-BARRE — It’s been almost 100 years since one of the deadliest coal mining disasters happened right here in our area. Many people don’t know much about the tragedy, but the site of the Baltimore Mine Tunnel disaster in Wilkes-Barre is now getting the recognition that some say is long overdue.

This unveiling of a historical marker was several lifetimes in the making, one that Katie Lavery, of Wilkes-Barre, looked forward to for a very, very long time.

“Why couldn’t it have happened long before today, I’ll never understand,” said Lavery.

The horrific Baltimore Mine Tunnel disaster happened along Spring Street in Wilkes-Barre on June 5, 1919. Blasting powder hit an electrical wire in the tunnel and caused an explosion. 92 people died, including two of Katie’s uncles. 60 more people were hurt.

For months, several classes of King’s College students helped Katie do the research and paperwork to get the site designated as a historical landmark. The marker was approved in April, but was not put in place until now.

One of the explosion’s survivors was John Karazia’s grandfather.

“He had horrific burns. He had to deal with those burns all his life afterwards. He passed away in December 1945,” said Karazia.

The Baltimore Mine Tunnel disaster was one of the deadliest coal mining disasters in all of Pennsylvania, and descendants say they’re glad this is now here so people will remember what happened here.marker

“It’s a long time coming. It’s almost 100 years. At least this way now they’re not forgotten,” said Karazia.

Now Katie’s dream of honoring her uncles has come true 95 years after their death.

“I’m trying to keep back the tears. I have many, many, many years tried to get this to happen,” said Lavery.

So future generations never allow another disaster like this to happen again.

3 comments

  • Jill Meyer (Fidrych-Wonsewicz)

    I have been told by my uncle that my grandfather’s brother died in the explosion that day, one year before he was born. They lived right down the hill below the mine on Walnut St. When I searched thru the records his name is listed incorrectly. I would like to see it corrected if possible, but don’t know who to contact.

    lflucy@yahoo.com

  • kathleen owens

    My great grandfather died in the explosion. I’m so glad to see this has been erected! Thanks to everyone who was instrumental. I’d love to hear from anyone who had family in the disaster! Katowens@aol.com.

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