My neighbor gave me a panoramic image taken in December 1923 titled “Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines, Car #5, at Roswell, Ohio, December 1923” that shows the miners of that community and even lists some of their names. Recognize anyone?
During the first few decades of the 20th century nearly a million people worked as coal miners in the United States. The United States Department of the Interior established the Bureau of Mines in order to, initially at least, study mine explosions and to analyze and test mineral fuels. Eventually the Bureau also took on an educational role in order to train miners and their employers on proper mine safety. In order to reach as many miners as possible, the Bureau created something called “Mine Rescue Cars”; train cars outfitted as mobile classrooms that could visit mining communities across the country.
During the winter of 1923, one of these cars visited the mining communities of Tuscarawas County and, in at least one community, the miners and mine owners that visited the car posed for group photo. The plan was for the car to visit 33 counties in Ohio and train over 15,000 miners in first aid and mine rescue. According to the Bureau of Mines at the time, there were 12 fatal mine accidents every month and even a cursory examination of newspapers of the time speaks to that statistic.
When one looks closely at the image, one will discover that there a number of men pictured who look to be in their teens at the oldest. For many of these men, this image may be the only surviving picture of them ever taken. While some men in the image are not identified, many are and I have included a list of those identified below along with the number that corresponds to them in the image. I hope, in doing so, that someone may find one of their ancestors pictured below.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.