Devil's Slide, UT Premature Quarry Explosion, June 1910
RECOVERING THE BODIES OF DEAD.
MANY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE DEVIL'S SLIDE EXPLOSION ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BURIED UNDER THE THOUSANDS OF TONS OF ROCK DISLODGED BY THE PREMATURE BLAST.
S. D. BERNUARDO.
F. N. GYNKUCK.
The above is the official list of the dead and missing given to a representative of this paper at Devil's Slide late yesterday afternoon by Manager Gilson of the Union Portland Cement Company. All but wo of the victims are entombed in a tunnel over which there are several hundred thousands tons of rock. The seventeen are the victims of the explosion of about six hundred kegs of powder in a tunnel at the rock quarry yesterday morning, at 9 o'clock.
Immediately following the explosion, Manager Gilson set all the available rock and quarry men to work in repairing the track and making ready for running the steam shovel to a point near the tunnel for the removal of the rock in an effort to recover the bodies of the fifteen victims supposed to be lying in the tunnel. Throughout the night and all of today two crews of men worked dilligently to recover the bodies of fellow workmen whose lives were snuffed out in an instant.
Up to a late hour this afternoon no reports of any bodies being recovered had been received at the general offices of the Union Portland Cement Company in Ogden.
Preparations have been made for caring for the bodies of the victims by the undertaker of Morgan County.
The cause of the explosion which dealt death to about a score of men is unknown and there is little likelihood that there ever will be anything known as to how the great explosion was caused. One theory advanced by an employe of the company is that the electric light globe which was used in the tunnel exploded and fragments of the glass struck powder and ignited it. Another theory is that some steel instrument, such as a pick or a hammer used in tamping powder, caused the explosion. Another theory is that the men working in the tunnel with the powder wore heavy shoes with hobnails in them and in walking back and forth stepped on powder and caused it to ignite.
In speaking of the explosion, an employe of the company described it as follows:
"The tunnel was about three feet high and two feet wide and sixty feet long. At the end of the sixty feet two small drifts went off which lead to pockets in which the powder is placed for the firing of a shot. Most of the men were back in the tunnel passing the powder from one to the other and then to Foreman McGUIRE who would open the cans and empty it into the pockets. When the explosion occurred a Japanese and an Italian were working at the mouth of the tunnel taking the powder from the small car upon which it had been carried to the tunnel from the powder house. The bodies of the Jap and the Italian were buried about eight hundred feet. An arm of one of the victims was found in the railroad cut of the Union Pacific track, about a thousand feet from the tunnel's mouth, while another portion of a body was found down the canyon lodged in a tree."
The bodies recovered, as in all explosions, are totally nude. Shoes and clothing were removed entirely. In picking up a portion of one of the bodies it was found that there was a piece of a vest pocket and in this was found pieces of a time check which was almost torn into bits. The top of the skull of the Japanese was found with other pieces of the body in the flat at the foot of the mountain side.
Rocks weighing from fifty to a hundred pounds were hurled a distance of more than a thousand feet. The general office of the company, about four hundred feet from the tunnel, was in a rain of rocks and dust and many pieces of sharp edged rock rent big holes in the side of the building. Nearly all the buildings had windows broken.
All of the victims, as near as could be learned, were unmarried but many ofthem had people dependent upon them. Foreman McGUIRE'S mother, Mrs. Anna McGuire, resides at Bingham Canyon, where McGUIRE was formerly employed as powder boss for the Utah Copper Company. The ill-fated man was 25 years of age, and, although young in years, was old in experience as a powder man.
Upon being advised of the disaster, Justice of the Peace Wilde of Morgan County empanelled a coroner's jury composed of W. H. Toone, George Thackery and James Hopkins. The scene of the explosion was visited yesterday afternoon. When the bodies of the men are removed from the tunnel, this afternoon or tomorrow, the jury will begin the investigation.
District Attorney Harris has returned from an investigation of the explosion. He says five tons of powder had been placed at the mouth of the tunnel prior to loading the "pockets," and a ton and a half of the powder had been placed in position when the explosion occurred. It is supposed the entire five tons went off.
Foreman McGUIRE had appeared at the mouth of the tunnel a few minutes before the disaster and had taken back with him to the powder chamber a pair of pincers. It is supposed that the electric wires, which were used to supply light in the tunnel, were disconnected and the pincers were for the purpose of uniting them. Those who have offered an explanation of the explosion say that McGUIRE may have caused an electric spark in repairing the wire line and in that manner may have ignited the "mine."
A steam shovel was placed at work last night, but the mass of rock over the point where the tunnel stood is so extensive that it will be two weeks before the material can be moved so as to allow of the recovery of the dead bodies which are supposed to be there.
The Ogden Standard Utah 1910-06-02