This past Sunday's "This Day in Dark Americana" segment on "Dark Side of the Highway" (4-6 AM) recalled the Buffalo Creek Flood of February 26, 1972, which killed 125 people in West Virginia...
Buffalo Creek Hollow in West Virginia a day after the killer flood
The Buffalo Creek Flood was a disaster that occurred on February 26, 1972, when the Pittston Coal Company's coal slurry impoundment dam #3, located on a hillside in Logan County, West Virginia, USA, burst four days after having been declared 'satisfactory' by a federal mine inspector.
The resulting flood unleashed approximately 132,000,000 US gallons (500,000 m3) of black waste water, cresting over 30 ft high, upon the residents of 16 coal mining hamlets in Buffalo Creek Hollow. Out of a population of 5,000 people, 125 were killed, 1,121 were injured, and over 4,000 were left homeless. 507 houses were destroyed, in addition to forty-four mobile homes and 30 businesses.The disaster also destroyed or damaged homes in Lundale, Saunders, Amherstdale, Crites, Latrobe and Larado. In its legal filings, Pittston Coal referred to the accident as "an Act of God."
Dam #3, constructed of coarse mining refuse dumped into the Middle Fork of Buffalo Creek starting in 1968, failed first, following heavy rains. The water from Dam #3 then overwhelmed Dams #2 and #1. Dam #3 had been built on top of coal slurry sediment that had collected behind dams # 1 and #2, instead of on solid bedrock. Dam #3 was approximately 260 feet above the town of Saunders when it failed.
This week's accompanying music selection was "The Protector" by The White Stripes, which alludes to the Buffalo Creek Disaster from the federal mine inspector point-of-view, through lyrics such as "300 people living out in West Virginia/have no idea of all these thoughts that lie within ya". The song can be found on their 2001 Sympathy for the Record Industry release White Blood Cells.