Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government.

Fraterville Mine Disaster: 120 Years Later

MSHA remembers Fraterville Mine Disaster


On May 19, 1902 the worst mine disaster in Tennessee history happened at the Fraterville mine. Early in the morning, a coal dust explosion sent debris and toxic methane gas belching from the air flow shaft and out of the mouth of the mine. Of 216 men and young boys working in the mine that day, 190 were killed instantly. In an attempt to close out the deadly gas, the remaining 26 barricaded themselves into a deeper mine passage. Sadly, the men passed away of asphyxiation hours later. Before their tragic passing, they composed notes to their loved ones on the passage walls.

The small town of Fraterville was devastated by the loss and still recall that tragic day 120 years later. To commemorate this event, the Coal Creek Community erected an exhibit that can be seen at the Lenoir Museum located in Norris Dam State Park in Tennessee.

Today we remember and honor the miners who lost their lives at the Fraterville mine, and we remain committed to our mission to prevent death, illness, and injury from mining and promote safe and healthy workplaces for the industry’s greatest resource - miners.