This week marks the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Scotia Mine disaster, when two explosions at a mine in Oven Fork, Kentucky took the lives of 26 men. Two days after the first event on March 9, which resulted in 15 fatalities, a second explosion killed 11 more men including 3 mine inspectors. One of the main causes was determined to be poor ventilation of methane gas, a frequent condition in large-scale mine explosions (including the 2010 tragedy at Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia). The Scotia disaster is cited for contributing to the passage of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.
When news of the first explosion reached Appalshop staff on March 9, film crews raced to the scene in Oven Fork, located 10 miles from its home base in Whitesburg, KY. As events unfolded the filmmakers shot footage, interviewed witnesses and recorded press updates from company representatives and officials including U.S. Rep. Carl D. Perkins (1912-1984). This 2-minute clip presents a selection of the Appalshop documentation, including audio of Congressman Perkins’ press conference. Also featured are news clippings and a photograph of the commemorative marker erected in Oven Fork in 2010 to honor the victims.
The archival audio in this piece was preserved with support from the CPB/American Archive Content Inventory Project.