"The Explosion at Derby"

Derby main page | song | newspaper clippings



"The Explosion at Derby" is one of many songs associated with mining disasters. The accident took place in Wise County in 1934. According to newspaper accounts, approximately 100 men were working in the mine when the explosion occurred in one of its branch tunnels. Seventeen miners lost their lives. The remaining men escaped through an abandoned tunnel, walking over 2,000 feet to the surface, sometimes in three feet of water.

Collected by folklorist James Taylor Adams, "The Explosion at Derby" was composed by Leslie Ketron, Ruth Crowder, and Maude Hall. Any tune which went with lyrics has been lost, and there is no indication that the song ever went into oral tradition.

Derby main page | song | newspaper clippings

Deathly Lyrics:
Songs of Virginia Tragedies


Audio Credits


Breeding Mill

Caty Sage


Dewey Lee


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Mollie Tynes

Old 97

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Wreck of the 1256