For One More Breath: The Fraterville Mine Disaster

Eagle Scout Project

Welcome to the page for the Leach Cemetery portion of the in-progress Coal Creek Motor Discovery Trail. The Coal Creek Motor Discovery Trail is designed to be a self-guided tour through the historical mountains and valleys of the Coal Creek Watershed area (see above navigation).

On Monday, May 19 of 1902, around 7:30 in the morning, an explosion thundered through those very hills, changing the lives of every member of the community. This disaster took the lives of an estimated more than 200 men, 89 of whom are buried in Leach Cemetery in present day Lake City, TN. 

This was the focus of an Eagle Scout Project for Drew Justice of Lake City Troop 120. The project had three main objectives: 1) Clean and restore portions of the cemetery. 2) Establish a website consisting of information about the disaster, as well as miners who are buried in Leach Cemetery. 3) Provide a display with informational brochures, available to the public at the entrance of the cemetery. 

Clean and restore portions of the cemetery...

This was a process that took two days and over 160 man hours. The difference in the condition of headstones was tremendous, thanks to efforts from community volunteers, the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and members of Boy Scout Troop 120. 

 VOLUNTEERS

DAY ONE (September 4, 2000): Deric Stokes, Justin Rhea, Jeffrey Carden, Jereme Viles, Josh Lane, Ian Starnes, Jeremiah Leinart, Dustin Byrge, Kim Byrge, Ian Daniels, Rose Etta Cox

DAY TWO (September 30, 2000): Jacob Gremillion, Barry Thacker, Jeremiah Leinart, Linda Gowder, Chris Lawson, Carol Moore, Ian Starnes, Deric Stokes, Josh Lane, Alisa D. Lane, Susan H. Allen, Chris Carden, Dustin Byrge, Tim Rhea, Justin Rhea

 

 

 

 

 

 Pictured (L-R): Jereme Viles, Jeremiah Leinart, Jeffrey Carden, Ian Starnes, Justin Rhea, Drew Justice & Deric Stokes work together to clean the central monument of Leach Cemetery's Miner's Circle (2000)

 

Establish a website consisting of information about the disaster, as well as miners who are buried in Leach Cemetery...

Thanks to a good deal of trailblazing and interviewing, this is the site! The top navigation offers access to the other features including accounts from descendants, farewell letters left by those who perished, a forum for discussion and more. With help from friends and other interested parties, the site will hopefully grow and have even more to share.

Drew talking with George Sipe, who greatly helped in gathering information for the site. Much thanks to Mr. Sipe. (2000)

 

Provide a display with informational brochures, available to the public at the entrance of the cemetery...

Drew and the display at the unveiling, during the 100th Anniversary of the disaster. The original planned location of the kiosk was changed, but the project still stands at the entrance, to the right of the cemetery gates. (2002)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 An extraordinary amount of thanks goes out to those who helped make this project possible, especially my parents, Gwen & Bobby Justice, Barry Thacker & Carol Moore with the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, members of Troop 120 & of course the descendants of the miners themselves, who gave so willingly of themselves, their time, and their stories to ensure that this received the attention it deserves. Thank you.

 

Following Up...

In 2003, following the completion of the project, Drew was awarded Eagle Scout. Pictured below, Drew stands between Louise Nelson, granddaughter of Fraterville miner David DeZern, and Barry Thacker of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor (2003).

                       In 2005, the Fraterville Miners' Circle was added to the National Register of Historic Places.