Scofield, UT Mine Disaster, May 1900 - Stories of Survivors and the Dead

The rescue of Thomas Bell was singular. He was a long dis­tance back in the mine, waiting for a car to come along. His partner, Thomas Farrish, remarked: "You might as well go on and walk out; that car isn't coming for half an hour." Bell did walk out, and had gone half way down the hill when the catastro­phe came. Less than two hours later he was bringing out the corpse of the man who had, though indirectly, saved him from an awful death.

"I went through the Abercarn horror in Wales in 1882, when 240 were killed. It was a gas explosion in a coal mine, but the scenes were tame compared with these," was the statement of one of the Evans brothers, as he gazed on the mangled bodies in the boarding house.

Former Mine Inspector Forrester had a very close call. He was found near the mouth of the tunnel, having just gone in, and was quickly rescued. As soon as he recovered, he went right back in the mine to aid the relief party and was again brought out in an unconscious condition. He was carried to his room, and upon recovering once more, returned to aid in directing the work.
Superintendent Parmley headed one rescuing party. He was the first one in the mine and the last one to leave it. His brother, Foreman William Parmley, perished in Number Four.
Besides the miners, a number of horses used in the tunnel were killed. They were found with their noses against the ground.

John Beddoes, the engineer at Number Four, had a narrow escape. He had just stepped outside to lift on a car when the ex­plosion occurred. He escaped with a few slight scratches.
Nearly all of the bereaved families are facing hard problems. Take that of Mrs. Davis, for instance. Her husband, John T. Davis, and her two sons, aged 19 and 21, respectively, were killed. That leaves the widow with eight children to care for. This is only one instance of a great many similarly situated.

It would be a work of mercy if a few energetic, sympathetic men and women would take hold of this urgent work. The women who have come in from outside have been a Godsend to the half frantic, utterly dazed widows. Just one case will show what I mean: Mrs. William White and Miss Elizabeth Silverwood came from Salt Lake this afternoon. Tonight they are in a widow's home making such needed clothing for her orphaned babies and comforting the mother as only women can comfort bereaved womanhood. The fact that whole families of little ones are suffering for food—not because the food is lacking, but be­cause their mothers are too much burdened with grief to think of domestic cares—tells the story of the disorganization of the com­munity. Two little girls, one 7, the other 9, followed one of the Herald staff to a hotel today and got some warm food. When their guide asked them what they had had to eat for the past three days, they answered: "Crackers, from the store." A dozen strong, motherly women who know how to cuddle children and soothe grief, would be worth more to this camp tonight than any $10,000 that could be subscribed.

The story of the experiences of Ephraim Rowe, of Spanish Fork, is of unusual interest even here at this time. Young Rowe was adriver in the mine, and was working in the sixth raise of mine Number One. He says:, "I never heard a sound. I was stooping over and putting in sprags. The first thing I knew my horse fell over and I felt the gust of wind. I went with the wind.
along the raise for a distance of fully 300 feet. I was not over­come yet, but crawled along and shouted back to Sam Wycherly, who I knew was following me in the dark. He shouted that Roger Davis was under the trip. I replied that we had better get out, and we went fully 1,200 feet on our hands and knees, and came to another trip at the bottom of the raise. I got out into the main entry where I got fresh air. It occurred to me to go back for my uncle, Owen Rowe, whom it now appears, was on the main entry hunting me. My uncle was working beyond the eight raise in the main entry. I then became unconscious and re­mained so until three o'clock or after yesterday afternoon, having known nothing for almost thirty hours. Had I been there ten minutes longer, I would have died. The consciousness of an explosion came so suddenly that I can't really tell how I did feel, only a current of fresh air. My horse was found dead today. I had worked there for eight years, and many is the time that I have looked purposely for gas in the mine, but never was there any. Poor Davis, we could not have saved him, and my greatest regret today is that the public in reading this state­ment might form the conclusion that we left him there to perish."