Underground Fire

Underground Fire: Hope, Sacrifice, and Courage in the Cherry Mine Disaster

About the Book

On Novem­ber 13, 1909, the coal min­ers of Cher­ry, Illi­nois, went to work, just like any oth­er day. By late after­noon, smoke and fast-mov­ing flames fill the mine’s under­ground tun­nels more than 300 feet below the land’s sur­face. Hun­dreds of men were trapped under­ground. Over eight days, a trag­ic sto­ry unfolds.  Alter­nat­ing with above­ground res­cue efforts and below­ground ter­ror, it is a tale of hero­ic res­cue attempts, sac­ri­fice, and a group of min­ers’ hope and absolute will to sur­vive. Under­ground Fire is rich with archival pho­tographs, pri­ma­ry source doc­u­ments, and fol­low-up infor­ma­tion about sur­vivors, res­cuers, and families.


“… Walk­er opens her sol­id account by pro­vid­ing back­ground about min­ing, immi­gra­tion, and coal before get­ting to the events of Novem­ber 13, 1909, when the Cher­ry Mine fire start­ed after kerosene from a torch began drip­ping onto bales of hay…. While Walk­er draws atten­tion to the cor­po­rate greed that led to unfair work­ing con­di­tions, includ­ing child labor, read­ers may also rec­og­nize some con­tem­po­rary par­al­lels to this sto­ry, includ­ing the res­cue of thir­ty-three Chilean min­ers in 2010 and twelve Thai boys and their soc­cer coach in 2018.” (The Horn Book)

“A poignant account of the 1909 Cher­ry, Illi­nois, coal mine dis­as­ter, one of the worst in U.S. his­to­ry.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Underground Fire

writ­ten by Sal­ly M. Walk­er
Can­dlewick Press, Oct 2022
hard­cov­er: 978–1536212402
224 pages, ages 10 and up

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