The history behind Mine Rescue Day

By |  November 3, 2022

Logo: MSHA

The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) established Mine Rescue Day nine years ago, designating Oct. 30 as the official date to reflect each year.

The date was not selected at random, though. In fact, MSHA says Oct. 30 was chosen because it was the date 111 years ago when the first mine rescue demonstration was held in the U.S.

According to MSHA, Joseph Holmes, the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, organized the demonstration in 1911. President William Howard Taft, who appointed Holmes to his Bureau of Mines post, was on hand for the inaugural event, which took place at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

Joe Main, who served MSHA as assistant secretary in 2013 when the agency officially recognized Oct. 30 as Mine Rescue Day, reflected that year on the role mine rescue responders play in saving lives.

“I have been involved in a number of mine emergencies during my life and know how critical it is to prepare our mine rescue responders for the emergencies that have so often occurred in the mining industry,” says Main, who began working at coal mines in 1967 and later served the United Mine Workers of America as Occupational Health & Safety Department administrator. “We owe these mine rescue responders the best training, the best equipment and the best preparation we can provide so they can be ready to respond should the need arise.”

Chris Williamson, who currently serves MSHA as assistant secretary, offered a thought on Mine Rescue Day as this year’s came around.

“Rescue team members must be ready not only when there is an emergency, but they must train to stay ready by participating in trainings and contests,” Williamson says. “The time that takes from their families and community is something we never take for granted.”

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Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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