The Diamond Mine of the Wilmington Coal Mining and Manufacturing Company, located near Braidwood on the Grundy-Will County line, was the site of a major mine disaster in Illinois.
The mine was on a marshy tract of land that had no natural drainage. At midday of February 16, 1883, the east side of the mine collapsed from the weight of melting snow, ice, and heavy rains. An alarm was sounded, and miners who were near the escapment shaft hurried to the surface. The main passage to the shaft flooded rapidly, and the weight of the water sealed the ventilation doors in the tunnels. Escape became impossible, and rescue attempts were futile.
Other mines in the area suspended operations, and their workers helped build a dam on the site. For thirty-eight days seven steam pumps removed water from the mine. Volunteers descended the shaft on March 25, and the first bodies were recovered on March 26. The recovery effort was hampered by accumulations of debris and gas as well as by falling rock. Several days later the mine was sealed with the remaining forty-six bodies entombed.
Numerous men and boys died in the disaster; two were thirteen years of age, and two were fourteen. Contributions for families of the victims were received from across the United States and totaled more than $42,000, including $10,000 appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly. In 1898 the United Mine Workers of America placed a monument at the site.