Westville, NS Canadian Mine Disaster, May 1873

Etching Of The Mine Disaster

THE BURNING COLLIERY -- TERRIBLE FATALITY -- GUNPOWDER THE CAUSE.

Halifax, N.S., May 15. -- A gentleman who has returned from the burning colliery says that relays of men have been at work since yesterday, filling the slopes and air shafts with clay. The fire still burns as fiercely as ever. He went within a few feet of the mouth of a shaft, from which blue sulphurous flames were aascending 20 feet. The roar from the burning mine was something terrific; dense volumes of smoke continued to ascend from several air shafts. No adequate idea can be formed of the terrible disaster. The computed loss of property is enormous, but is nothing in comparison with the loss of life. All the wood work in the mines is burned, and experienced miners say it is one mass of burning ruins below. The causes that led to the disaster are not as stated, owing to a strike of some miners, but to powder having been permitted to be used in one of the beds worked by a miner named ROBERT McLEAD, who insisted upon using it, unless he received higher rates for cutting without it. At the inquest yesterday several important facts came out in the evidence which show recklessness or carelessness in the work of supervision in dangerous parts of the mines. The total number of deaths at writing is fifty-nine.

Ottawa, Canada, May 15. -- A correspondence has been brought to the attention of the House of Commons in the charges in connection with the Canada Pacific R. R. It is represented that which passed between SIR HUGH ALLAN and his associates has been discovered which shows that the former secured the Pacific Railroad contract for the government by expending various sums of money, amounting in aggregate to $360,000 in carrying elections. The House today ordered an immediate reassembling of a special committee of investigation into the affairs of the Pacific Railroad to receive and consider this correspondence.

Halifax, May 14. -- To give some idea of the extent of the explosion learned from several, it may be stated of the old one, close to the miners' residence, and distant from the mines some six or seven hundred yards, that huge pieces of timber were driven through it, some falling on the roofs of houses and crushing them. It was truly heartrending to pass through the square of buildings where the families of the lost miners reside. The window blinds are drawn, and the poor widows of the men whose charred remains are far down in the sepulchre, mourn incessantly and piteously the loss of those who have been suddenly taken from them. As you pass close to the saddened homes of these famililes you can hear them sobbing and crying.
The jury has returned the following verdict: "We find that the miners came to their death on the instant by an explosion in Drummond colliery, caused by a derangement of the ventilator of the mine, arising from a fire in ROBERT McLEADS ward." They say that considerable care was exhibited in the management of the mine, but express their regret that powder was permitted to be used in the ward worked by ROBERT McLEAD.
A fund for the relief of distressed widows and orphan's will be raised. Relief meetings will be held this evening in New Glasgow and Westvine.

The Daily Gazette Davenport Iowa 1873-05-16