Mining in the Ladd Quadrangle
The fire at the Cherry Mine (mine index 10) caused the most fatalities of any single accident in the state.
In 1909, a kerosene torch leaked oil onto a wagon of straw for the mine mules and caught fire. The wagon
was eventually pushed down the sump, but not before the roof support timbers were smoldering. The coal
was ignited from the burning timbers, and with the work force on two levels, the area near the exits
became filled with smoke and heat before the men could all be evacuated. In all, 256 men died.
Mining took place in the Herrin and Colchester Coals. The Herrin Coal was much shallower and easier to access in both surface and underground mining. However, the coal contained many impurities, including pyrite, bone coal, and clay partings. In one Bureau County surface mine, the coal was mined in two benches to allow removal of a 2-inch pyrite-rich band by hand shovel. Pyrite was also present as nodules that adhered to the coal. In hand-mining, the nodules were removed at the face and left in the mine. In some mines, horsebacks and clay bands or veins were present in sufficient density to increase the ash content to such a degree that the coal was unsatisfactory. In such mines, the shaft was usually deepened to reach the Colchester Coal. The Colchester Coal had some pyrite present in a 4-inch band and as nodules, but the coal was higher quality in this part of the state than the Herrin Coal.