Starkville, CO Starkville Mine Explosion, Oct 1910
NOT MUCH HOPE LEFT
ENTOMBED MINERS IN COLORADO HOPELESSLY WALLED IN.
GLOOM SETTLES AROUND PIT
NOTHING BRIGHT IN TIDINGS OF THE RESCUE PARTY.
Nine Hundred Feet Nearest Point Reached to Imprisoned Men- Poisonous Gases Found by Searchers.
STARKVILLE, Col., Oct. 10. – As darkness settled tonight over the entrance to the Starkville mine, the hope that had buoyed up the watchers at the pit mouth through out the day that some of the fifty or more men entombed there would be found alive grew faint and gloom settles again over the silent crowd. This morning the experts at the head of the rescue party were confident that some of the men walled in by Saturday night’s explosion were alive. They believed the portable fan forcing pure air into the workings would keep the men alive, until they could be reached, but as the day rescue party stumbled slowly out of the slope tonight one glance at their faces told the watchers that hope was almost vain.
Get Within 900 Feet.
After a day of hard work in the face of constant peril, the rescue party penetrated the mine working nearly 12,000 feet, or within 9—feet of the men imprisoned nearest the main entrance, instead of finding the mine clear of debris and afterdamp at this point, the workings were found be badly wrecked, and poisonous gases were again encountered. The leaders would not consent to the rescuers going further until sufficient fresh air had been fanned into the mine to insure safety. It was decided to retreat to the open, leaving the portable fan going until the interior of the mine was cleared of the deadly afterdamp.
Throughout the day the rescue party pushed forward with extreme care, lest it should be suddenly overwhelmed by bad air.
After passing the principal crosscut which connects the old and new slopes, and which was used as the main haulageway [sic], the party came upon cave-ins, plainly indicating the coarse of the explosion. Ten thousand feet from the entrance, the place where a fan had been operated before the explosion was badly damaged. The fan was torn to pieces and scattered hundreds of feet. The 1,200 pound motor had been thrown fifty feet from its bed. The party was compelled to stop and make repairs. Brattices were erected and in the meantime a dog which had accompanied the party wandered aimlessly ahead. It was found later laying stretched upon the floor overcome by afterdamp.
Evidence of Afterdamp.
When the rescue party renewed its journey inward it branched off for a short distance, and then took a southerly coarse toward the spot where the pickmen were supposed to have been working Saturday. The dog’s experience proved valuable, and reconnoitering parties were selected from the main party and sent ahead to test the air. Those scouting parties reported that afterdamp was notable in all the short cuts and also in the main slope. General Manager Weitzel was given this information by portable telephone and ordered the men out of the mine until the air could be improved.
While the night shift was waiting to be sent inside the mine a gang was put to work installing a blower at the mouth of the air shaft to prevent the sudden stoppage of air supply by the failure of the portable fan. Several times during the day this fan stopped working but was speedily repaired. All day long the hills facing the mine were dotted with groups of women and children waiting for news of the entombed men.
As the silent nods of the rescue party told that no bodies were expected to be found until late tonight the mothers gathered their little ones and settled to wait and watch through the night. State Mine Inspector Jones was the last of the rescuers to come out. He said that he felt sure the rescuers would come upon bodies tonight.