Coal Miners' Memorial,
Bartley, McDowell Co WV

   91 men lost their lives in an explosion on Jan. 10, 1940.   
Contributed by: Geneva Steele

Poem in memory of the miners of Bartley #1

In Memory of...

That fateful day, January 10, 1940, when
Ninety-one miners died in Mine No. 1 at
Bartley, West Virginia.  In one of the
most disastrous explosions in the annals
of coal mining.
          To their widows
          To their children
          To their fellow miners -
To all who mourn their loss and
cherish their memory, this poem
is affectionally dedicated.

The day was almost over,
The days shift's work almost done,
Soon the night shift would take over
At Bartley Number One.

For the men who "scoop up" their living
Or work on the "Donkeys" there
A welcome hour was nearing
When they'd breath the open air.

A welcome hour was dawning
When they'd board the old "man-trip"
Check another day for Pond Creek
Check some more good miners "scrip."

Men boasted of the record
Of Bartley Number One;
The good high coal and solid top
Made hard coal-loading fun.

The safest shaft on Dry Fork,
Where the coal is six feet high,
No fatalities for seasons,
"Be careful" was their cry.

Just before their day was over,
Just before their work was done.
They felt the quake of explosion
Deep in Bartley Number One.

They saw the rocks fall before them,
They knew of the terrible damps,
And they saw death in its fury
Through the flicker of their safety lamps.

Comrades in danger and trouble,
They knew 'twas the hour of gloom
It would only be a matter of minutes,
Until they should meet their doom.

When rescue parties found them
They were still and cold and dead,
And from their tired bodies
The last spark of life had fled.

Trapped like rats in a dungeon
They died, their stories untold.
No words can describe their horror,
Down in that cavern of coal.

Ninety-one Bartley miners
Went west to work that day
And not a man of that number
Retuned to the light of day.

And down through the days of the future,
Inscribed on the tables of time,
Will be the sad fate of the miners,
Who died in the Bartley mine.

A word to their widows and children;
"It is appointed to man once to die."
Be faithful, someday you may meet them
In that mansion in the sky.

Could we only have heard their stories,
Could only a man have been spared,
Perhaps our pains would be lessened,
But the death scene alone they shared.

The questions we'd ask would be many,
Did they keep up hopes to the last?
And what lucky man was at the bottom
Of that terrible Bartley blast?

There were many brave men in that number,
Oh, that I, in my weakness could cite
The deeds of each miner among them,
Oh, that I could but picture their plight.

If I could but paint on this paper
The dying hopes they shared,
"Twould emblazon the pages of history,"
But not a man was spared.

The grim reaper walked among them,
Where not even the sun could shine,
Claimed ninety-one souls as ransom
Deep in that Bartley mine.

From the woods of the Carolinas
To the wide Pacific sea
The people were stunned and silenced
As Bartley made history.

Wherever men go down in the ground,
Far from the shining sun,
This watchword should go with them:
"Remember Bartley Number One!"

It's so easy to forget in the coalfields,
Let's resolve to keep forever in mind,
Those friends who died in the darkness
Deep in that Bartley mine.

There were fathers and sons in that number,
And brothers together met their fate,
And though rescue workers labored,
They gained that goal too late.

          by A. Edmund Bales

Contributed by: Jack Tickle

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