Scofield, UT Mine Disaster, May 1900 - Terrible Calamity


May Day or Dewey Day, dawned bright and clear, when about two hundred miners left Scofield for the mines in the miner's coach that is run back and forth at the change of shifts, to the mines of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company at Winter Quarters. Every one of the men that were soon to meet death in its most horrible form were feeling in the best of spirits as evidenced by the pleasant joke that was bandied back and forth through the coach. What had they to fear, were they not working in one of the safest coal mines situated in the coal region? Each one was looking forward to the evening when there was to be a dance in the new Odd Fellow's Hall, and their children were to have a celebration in honor of the Hero of the Battle of Manilla. All were merry and joyous.

The spring time of the year was at hand, the trees were commencing to put on their garb of green and all nature was smiling with the first warm days of the most gladsome part of the whole year.

Nearly every man was at his post of duty in the mine, when from some cause or other, a most terrific explosion took place and all was changed in the twinkling of an eye. The lips that were breathing words of hope and encouragement of a few hours before were now hushed and cold in death. The lips that had kissed their wives and children the customary good-bye and the ever returning response from the loved ones as they wished their husbands and fathers a quick return would never more be heard to utter words of love. At about fifteen minutes past ten o'clock the surrounding country was startled by an explosion, but as it was Dewey day nearly every one supposed that the noise was from some one setting off a blast in honor of the day. But bye and bye there were seen women hurrying towards the mine and by their blanched faces one could read that there was something amiss at the mines. Reports came down that Number Four had exploded, but this was not believed as this mine in particular was supposed to be the safest mine of all of the Company's mines. But disaster dire and dreadful had overtaken Number Four, and all that were not working hurried to the opening as fast as possible there to be greeted by a sight of death and destruction such as one rarely if ever sees in a lifetime. But if the explosion has produced such havoc on the outside, what can be the condition upon the inside where the miners are confined with no chance of escape, caught like rats in a trap? No hope to recover anyone alive, no hope to ever look upon the face of those entombed, no hope of ever hearing loving words from lips now charred and blackened in the embrace of death.
On the top of the incline at the mouth of the mine, where the drums that let the cars down the incline were housed, nothing remained of the house but the boards broken and twisted. By some lucky chance or other the engineer was out assisting in replacing a car upon the track that had been derailed, and although scratched and bruised was still alive and able to take care of himself. One of the men that assists in pushing the loaded trip over the knuckle was found with his foot crushed, his shoulder out of place and severe injuries were sustained in other parts of his body. The assistant helper was found with his jaw broken and the side of his face crushed. The next man to be met had one leg broken, one arm broken and severely injured about his body. These men were immediately taken home by a few of the men that had arrived by this time and we hastened to the mouth of the mine, where one horse was found dead but his driver could not be seen until someone looking down the gulch saw the form of someone, supposed to be the driver. John Wilson. A few of the men hurried to his side and found that life was not yet extinct, although he had been blown eight hundred and twenty feet, by actual measurement. He was tenderly picked up and conveyed to his home where it was found that the back part of his skull had been crushed, besides a stick or splinter had been driven downward through his abdomen. He was in a critical condition and no one supposed he would live to be carried home, but, strange to relate, he has recovered rapidly and although he will never be able to do a day's work again he is up and feeling quite well at present. A relief committee was headed by T. J. Parmley, Superintendent of the mine, and they started for the levels of Number Four through Number One, there being inside connections, but were driven back by the terrible after-damp that had by this time reached the lower levels in Number One. Bernard Newren, a young man working on the outside at the mine, went with the relief committee on its errand of mercy but was carried out, he having been overcome by the deadly damp.

Andrew Hood, Foreman in Number One mine, was a few minutes later assisted out, he having been overcome in the same way. He went to his home, but realizing the horrible disaster he tried again to enter the mine but had not recovered sufficiently. The route by the way of Number One having been found impracticable on account of the after-damp, the relief committee hurried to the mouth of Number Four where the attempt was again made to enter the inferno that had been raging within.