Between 1885 and 1920 there were 847 recorded coal mine fatalities in Washington. Likely many more went unrecorded. In the 1920s, the state increased focus on mine safety. Under the leadership of Abe Morris, Chief Mine Inspector, mine rescue and first aid competition were organized. The idea was that friendly competition between mining companies would emphasize safety practices leading to fewer mine accidents. This photo captures participants at the Western Washington First Aid and Mine Rescue Meet.The event was held in early September 1922 in the Pierce County coal mining town of Burnett. The affair was family friendly, with games and contests organized for wives and children and a chicken dinner served at the nearby hotel.
Due to rain the second half of the meet was held in Black Diamond the following Sunday. Many notables attended, including Abe Morris, the Chairman of the Trophies Committee.This group photo of teams competing in the First Aid division showed all participants with their hats removed. Front row, from left to right: Ed Kaminsky, Ed Poch, Robert Wallace, I. L. Clarke, George Kothe, Mark Bowers, unknown, George Halliday, William P. Bowie, Harold Lloyd, E. Wendt, J. H. O’Reilley. Second row: Ted Rouse, S. B. Potts, Arthur Strankeman, G. L. Edwards, F. A. Connell, Theo Gustofson, C. W. Eidemiller, Alfred Waites, R. Signani, R. Moar, Ed Dichaud, J. McKim, G. M. MacMillan, George F. Schanz. Back row: Martin Taylor, Walter Pogota, L. W. Emery, Thomas Steele, John Eck, Syd Evans, Gus Edstrom, Thomas Chadbourne, J. Craugey, Jack Kimmaman. Research for this caption was provided by JoAnne Matsumura of Issaquah, while theimage comes courtesy of Jerry & Lynda English of Enumclaw. This is the first of a series of columns focused on safe practices whose goal was to reduce injuries and fatalities in underground coal mining.