Researchers finding graves from mining disaster

BRICEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- University of Tennessee archaeologists are discovering the unmarked graves of itinerant miners who died in the 1902 Fraterville mining disaster.

In all, 216 miners, most of them Welch, were killed at the Anderson County coal mine. Twenty-six of them slowly suffocated in barricaded rooms, where several had time to scrawl heart-rending farewell messages.

Some 30 bodies were unclaimed and buried next to a railroad spur -- most in unmarked graves.

Members of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation learned of the graves in 2000, when the nonprofit was taking shape.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that on Friday, archeologists used sophisticated radar to find where the ground had been disturbed. The results will be studied on a computer.

Meanwhile, the foundation has erected a commemorative marker.

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