Monday, February 25, 2008

A Hungarian-American coal mine disaster: December 1907

The one catastrophe that still rates as the single worst mining disaster in the history of America was the explosion of the Darr Mine southeast of Pittsburgh in December 1907. Two-hundred and thirty-nine men lost their lives that day, most of them Hungarian miners.

For more on the mining accident, see my article entitled Tragedy & miracles in the coal mines: December 1907 and follow the link to a video about the disaster, including an interview with Anne Toth, a descendant of one the victims who is working to preserve the memory of the fateful Darr Mine and its miners.

At this time I do not have any knowledge of coal miners on the Hungarian side of my family, yet many of their countrymen found their livelihoods in this dangerous occupation as new immigrants to America in the 19th and early-20th centuries.

Here, in their honor, is the Hungarian Miner's Anthem (Bányász himnusz):

Szerencse Fel! (Fortune's Up!)

Szerencse fel, szerencse le;
Ilyen a bányász élete.
Váratlan vész rohanja meg,
Mint bérctetot a fergeteg.

Nem kincs után sóvárgok én,
Bányász kislányt óhajtok én.
Bányász kislányt óhajt szívem,
Ki szívében bányász legyen.

És hogyha majd a föld ölében
végóránkat éljük,
Isten kezében életünk.
O megsegít reméljük!
Te kisleány ne bánkódjál,
Bányászként halni szép halál!

Egekbe szállani fel, fel Szerencse fel,
Szerencse fel, szerencse fel!

For more on the history of the Darr Mine and its disaster in 1907, see also the American Hungarian Federation's webpage on the Darr Mine Disaster Commemoration or Ray Washlaski's webpages on the Darr Mine at the Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania website.

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