Many thanks to the listener of Erik Rivenes's Most Notorious Podcast who suggested he read TRAPPED: THE 1909 CHERRY MINE DISASTER. Taken with my account of the United States's worst coal mine fire, its human drama, the vast changes in labor, child labor, mining and mine safety legislation that followed, Rick invited me to talk about the disaster. I'm pleased to join the list of impressive guests he's featured, and fascinated by Erik's choice of topics to bring to his listening audience.
I love that nearly 20 years since TRAPPED was published, this important story is still generating interest. I've always likened the tragedy to Titanic in a coal mine. It was while sitting in the theater watching that film that I decided I had to write this book. Although the disaster occurred not 100 miles from Chicago, it is surprising how little attention this historic event has received, even within Illinois. Comparable in era and impact to The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the disaster at Cherry took the lives of immigrant workers trapped in flames they could not escape. Cherry, now home to perhaps 500 residents, lacks the visibility of Manhattan, where students and professors commemorate the dead seamstresses yearly with well attended projects and events.
Perhaps one day, professors and students in Illinois will join with the descendants of Cherry's victims and survivors at the yearly November anniversary memorial, to help broaden the memory of Cherry's immigrant miners, and the lessons learned in the disaster's aftermath.
Here is the link to my conversation with Erik: Most Notorious: TRAPPED.