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timeline 1933-1979

Tuesday, January 10, 1933
The official Christian County coroner’s inquest ruled that all 54 miners lost their lives “from an explosion in the mine.”

Wednesday, January 11, 1933
Items from the Moweaqua News
            Unable to contribute money because of the recent failure of their bank, citizens of Jacksonville Sunday sent two truckload of food stuffs to Moweaqua to be distributed among families of victims of the mine explosion here.
            Bert Roff, hoisting engineer of the Moweaqua coal mine worked Christmas eve while rescue crews dug into the rock clogged shaft where his brother, Charles was trapped with other miners. His nephew, James Roff also was among the men in the mine. 
            Moweaqua merchants, hotel owners and restaurant proprietors did a land-office business when the boom first started Saturday afternoon and evening. Newspapermen and state police were the first to obtain the city’s limited accommodations and Saturday and Sunday night ‘doubling up; was the order of procedure.
            Standing deep in freezing mud before the mine tipple Sunday were two brides, Mrs. Lynn Green and Mrs. Charles Campbell. Their husbands were among the missing. Charles Campbell and his bride had been married 18 days. The Greens married a week ago, had just returned from their honeymoon Friday and Mr. Green had gone into the mine for the first time since his marriage Saturday morning. 
            There were no call of “Merry Christmas” Sunday as residents of Moweaqua gathered at the mine entrance or passed each other on the streets. Instead there were solemn inquiries of “How many have they found?” and "Do they think anyone escaped death?”

February 1, 1933
The Moweaqua News reported comments of the mine owner. “If the mine is reopened,” Mr. Shafer said, “every safety precaution would be taken of course. Upon the recommendation of the state mine inspector, nothing but electric safety lamps would be used in the future.” The state investigation of the explosion resulted in the decision that it was the open flame of the miner’s carbide lamps which ignited the gas and caused the explosion which killed 54 men.

May 27, 1933
The Century of Progress World’s Fair opens in Chicago to celebrate 100 years of advancement in science and industry. To help get peoples’ minds off of the Great Depression, the first All-Star baseball game is held that summer in Comiskey Park. A large new museum is opened near the fair that year with a built-in coal mine.

December 28, 1933
The Moweaqua mine opens again after being closed for more than a year after the disaster.

December 24, 1933
Citizens of Moweaqua on the first anniversary of the Moweaqua mine disaster held a memorial service at the Moweaqua High school gymnasium at 2 o’clock on Sunday, Christmas Eve.

March 7, 1934
65 miners are now working in the Moweaqua mine.

December 18, 1934
After being closed all summer and fall, the coal mine is reopened under a new company organized by Glen Shafer of Pana and named the Erie Sootless Coal Company of Moweaqua. Schafer’s brother-in-law, Ernest Foster is the mine manager. The mine operated with about 40 men for three months and then again shut down. No coal is brought up after 1935 and the mine is officially closed in 1936 but not sold. A series of arsonist fires, lightning strikes and accidents ensure its permanent demise. Much of the tipple was torn down in June 1940 and the remainder blown over demolishing the engine room that November. In October 1941, due to rotting timbers and much rain, the mine shaft caved in on itself and created a large sink hole 80 feet wide.

October 10, 1936
Dedication of the Mother Jones monument located in the Union Miner’s Cemetery,
Mt. Olive, Illinois.

Reclamation of surface mined lands was started on a voluntary basis by mining companies. This consisted entirely of tree planting.

Last coal mine in Decatur is closed.

March 25, 147
111 miners that died in coal dust explosion at Centralia Coal Company #5.

Following the Centralia Mine disaster, legislation was adopted that created a laboratory to analyze mine air and mine dust. The first analytical laboratory was established on the campus of the University of Illinois.

December 25. 1951
119 miners died in gas explosion. in Chicago, Wilmington and Franklin Coal Company,
Orient #2,

The rail industry virtually completes its switch from coal-fired to diesel locomotives.

Coal becomes the major fuel used by electric utilities to generate electricity.

On January 1, 1962
The first state laws regulating reclamation at Illinois surface coal mines came into effect.

October 16, 1964
Monument to honor Illinois coal miners is dedicated on the east lawn of the State Capitol. Sculpture by John Szaton.

Air Quality Act would improve air quality and implement emission limitations.

Mine Health and Safety Act creates MSHA enforcement. As a result, the safety standards for all coal mines were strengthened and health standards were adopted.

The federal Clean Air Act was considered to be the first modern environmental law. . This act and those before and after promoted the use of clean low sulfur coal by setting emission standards.

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act protects society and environment from adverse effects of surface coal mining operations.

Federal Mine Safety and Health Act states all underground mines are inspected four times a year and surface mines twice annually.

July 1, 1979
New laws were enacted providing mine subsidence insurance to homeowners providing coverage against damage from mine subsidence due to long abandoned coal mines.