Welcome to the Mine 21 website


Filmmakers hope to expand documentary on deadly 1981 Marion Co. mine disaster

Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 11.47.03 AM.png



A young woman searches for answers about a tragedy that took the life of her grandfather, and 12 other men. She discovers that her grandmother’s heroic fight for justice helped save lives

On December 8, 1981, Mine 21, one of several underground coal-mines operated by Grundy Mining Company in the unincorporated area between Palmer and Whitwell, Tennessee, exploded and killed thirteen miners. While not on the same scale as the disasters in Fraterville (May 19, 1902, in which 216 miners were killed) or Cross Mountain (December 9, 1911, in which 84 died), Mine 21 was the worst mining disaster in Tennessee since the introduction of modern safety precautions. The Department of Labor would eventually rule that “a cigarette lighter taken into a coal mine in violation of Federal regulations touched off a methane explosion,” but “accused the Grundy County Mining Company, the mine’s operator, of failure to evacuate workers from a methane-laden shaft, to adequately ventilate the shaft and to enforce a Federal regulation prohibiting smoking materials in a mine” (New York Times, May 5, 1982).  The matter went all the way to the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).



There will be a question and answer session to follow each of the screenings. 


Marion County Coal Miners’ Museum

Grundy County Historical Society