Thursday, May 30, 1968

Hominy Falls

When we went to hear Junior Moore tell of his harrowing experience underground, he was soaking his feet to relieve the arthritis all six men had developed. Otherwise, he looked to be in good shape, however, the doctor had said no to an invitation from Governor Smith to attend a prayer breakfast in Charleston Tuesday.

Junior, who traveled 110 miles each day from Buckeye to the mine, began work at 7 a.m. Monday, May 6, after being off with the flu for a week. He came out [of the mine] 10 days later.

Entering the drift mouth, the main No. 1 belt goes 1,000 feet; then at a right angle, the south main belt goes 1,250 feet; another right angle, making a square U, and 1,732, feet to workings of that day. No. 1 room to the left was the farthest room; here were Junior, Joe Fitzwater. electrician, and Jennings Lilly; Larry Lynch was getting a pan to bring in the No.1 room; Edward Scarbro was another one. Renick McClung was supposed to be in another room but had come down for pins and they found him drowned. No. 2 room, where the group stayed, had a broken down miner. No. 3 room, coming back toward the south main corridor, was where the mechanical miner cut through into an old abandoned mine at 20 minutes before 10 and water poured through with a force that moved the 16 ton miner 25 feet. Junior compared it to opening a gate on the Summersville Dam; it sounded like a jet engine rushing and spraying water. They estimated that about 300 acres of water came through and officials think they pumped thirty-three million gallons out.

Four men were working in this No. 3 room; E. Walkup, the operator, who was killed; C. Dodd, miner helper on the left side, who washed away and drowned; W. Burdette, on the right side, was washed out in a corridor and killed; and Gene Martin, who was washed to the No. 2 room and was rescued by others.

Now the six men started out but the power line was blowing up so they returned to the No.1 room; they found 3 dinner buckets but one was under water. They had four sandwiches, two doughnuts, three candy bars, two quarts of water and a pint of milk. They ate the last jelly sandwich Thursday. Junior said he felt a little hungry the second day but never had hunger pains… He weighed 149 1/4 when he got out, and usually weighs 178-180.

They put brattice cloth – fire resistant burlap – around the openings and that saved the air. Then they erected what they called the tent, an oval enclosure with timbers and three thicknesses of brattice cloth in this 34 inch high room.

They always went two at a time to check the water and used only one light. They still had two good lights when rescued.

Tuesday night the water fell eight inches; after that it raised a foot and a half. They were 75 feet from the water, but only a foot or so above the level. Up until Friday, it moved up the floor about an inch every four hours. Thursday from 11:55 to 4, they heard the drilling; afterwards they were told that only water was found. At 4:30, they ate the last sandwich and drank the last fresh water.

Sunday morning they heard someone yelling “hello” through the drilled hole and they all yelled back; Junior crawled down to the hole – now clear of water – but couldn’t make them hear. Due to mapping mistakes, this hole luckily hadn’t hit the intended No. 1 room; it would have relieved the air pocket and probably drowned them; another previous mapping error had caused the initial tragic breakthrough.

On Monday the water was down low so they went 400 feet to the swag where the water was still to the roof. Joe Fitzwater passed out here, probably due to black damp, and they had to drag him back on a shovel…

Tuesday they went to the swag and the water was still dropping but after that they stayed in the “tent” to save their energy.

Thursday morning at 12:30 a.m. they were all sitting up; they drank water and Larry Lynch gave thanks to God for the water; they dozed off and at five after one they woke to hear two men talking – Roy Simmons and Kermit Stanley. They hollered at them. Roy hollered back. When he stuck his head through the “tent’ they all hugged him. He went back for stretchers and help but they wanted none of that; they all crawled the 800 feet to a buggy. Simmons telephoned outside and Frank Davis called the families. Larry Lynch, Scarbro, and Junior were in the first buggy and Fitzwater, Lilly and Gene Martin in the last buggy. They wanted to put them right in the ambulance but Lynch had said they would all put hands together and have prayer, so they waited for the others and six joined together to thank God for the miracle.

They had coffee at the drift mouth, and then soup, cereal and black coffee at the hospital and reunion with their happy families.


Miss Brenda Sue Waugh, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde M. Waugh, of Clover Lick, and William Kenneth Workman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Workman, of Hillsboro, were united in marriage on Saturday, May 25, 1968, at the Nazarene Church in Marlinton by the Rev. Noel G. Davis…


Born to Mr. and Mrs. Roy H. Lambert, of Durbin, a son, named Roy Henry, Jr.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. John Lawson, of Salem, Virginia, a son, named Michael Joseph Lawson.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. Huston Bell, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a son, named George Deaton Bell, II.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Doyle, of Newark, Delaware, a daughter, named Tina Lynn.

Born to Private First Class and Mrs. Johnny Hall, Jr., of Indianapolis, Indiana, a daughter, named Tamara Annette.


Floy William Collins, 74, of Frank, a lifelong resident of Pocahontas County; burial in the Arbovale Cemetery.

Mrs. Katie Lillian Kelley, 77, of Dunmore, a lifelong resident of Pocahontas County; burial in the Wesley Chapel Cemetery.

Joseph Hedrick Beverage, 86, of Canton, North Carolina; born at Marlinton, a son of the late George and Lydia Jane Adkison Beverage. Burial in Waynesville, North Carolina.

more recommended stories