Red Canyon, WY Coal Mine Explosion, Mar 1895
DEATH TO SIXTY MINERS.
THE RESULT OF AN EXPLOSION IN A WYOMING COAL MINE.
MANY BODIES ARE STILL ENTOMBED.
THE SHAFTS BLOCKED WITH WRECKAGE, PREVENTING SUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS AT RESCUE BY THE VOLUNTEERS.
Evanston, Wyoming, March 21. -- Sixty men lost their lives by an explosion in Coal Mine No. 5 of the Rocky Mountain Coal and Iron Company at Red Canyon last evening:
The dead are:
BRUCE, JAMES B., outside boss.
CLARK, CHARLES S.
CLARK, JAMES W.
CLARK, JAMES T.
CLARKE, JOHN T.
COX, W. EDWIN, outside carpenter.
GRAHAM, JR., WILLIAM.
GRIEVES, W. H.
HYBARN, H. A.
LA PAR, JOHN.
LANGDON, SR., WILLIAM.
LAURIE, DAVID W.
LOCKE, JOHN G.
MALTBY, O. B., Superintendent of Motive Power.
MARTIN, JR., JOHN G.
SELLERS, JR., WILLIAM.
TELLERS, SR., WILLIAM.
TELLERS, JR., WILLIAM.
The explosion edmolished the power house at the mouth of the shaft. About twenty men were in the house at the time, and only one or two escaped with their lives.
The explosion filled the mouth of the shaft with wreckage of the power house and prevented egress. Subsequent developments showed that it also caused several cave-ins, thus hampering attempts at rescue.
Many of the miners had quit for the day and left the mine, and to this is due the fact that the death list is not longer. Rescue parties were organized immediately after the explosion. About three hours later one of the parties which had entered the main slope returned with two bodies, bringing also the bad news that cave-ins barred further progress. This necessitated laborious work removing the obstructions, as the main passage is some 2,000 feet in length, and has latteral galleries or drifts on nine different levels, each of which is from a mile to a mile and a half long. To reach this and discover if any victims were entombed therein will require days.
The work of recovering the bodies has gone steadily on night and day, rushed forward by volunteer squads of miners and other citizens, who have relieved each other from time to time. The work is attended with grave peril, and the first group of miners which ventured to brave the perils of gas, fire-damp, and crumbling walls were overcome, and had to be rescued by others.
The terrific force of the explosion in finding vent at the mouth of the slope blew the heavily timbered shed over the mouth of the slope and over the passageway leading out to the tipple clear into space, mowing down the tops of the power house, tipple shed, and other buildings at the mouth of the slope, more effectually than chain shot could have done.
A little boy, who had come to the mine with a horse and buggy to take his grandfather, HENRY BURTON, home at the close of the day's work was driving over the slope near its mouth on the public highway at the moment of the explosion. He and the horse and buggy were thrown almost perpendicularly in the air, fully twenty-five feet, and all fell in a heap into the mouth of the slope, where the buggy was demolished. The boy was picked up unhurt, and the horse, an hour later, was rescued from the first level, down to which he had tumbled, and was not much hurt, apparently, although badly singed and stunned.
The shock of the explosion was felt for miles around, and was distinctly heard at Evanston, seven miles away.
The Rocky Mountain Company, generally designated as the Central Pacific Mines, has two mines, Nos. 5 and 6, with one-mile face, making two separate mines with 150-foot pillars separating them. The explosino leaves No. 6 unharmed, but deprives the company of one-half of its capacity.
This is the third disastrous explosion in this vicinity. In 1881 No. 2 Mine, Rocky Mountain, exploded, killing thirty-six Chinese and four white men. In the Spring of 1886, in Union Pacific Mine No. 4, thirty-six men were killed.
The slope penetrates the earth at an angle of about 30 degrees, and the full force of the explosion found vent at its mouth, blowing the heaviest timbers into splinters and through the air like chain shot from a mortar. Pieces of boards and scantling cut their way like steel bullets through the roofing and rafters of the power house and everything in their way.
The air was filled with the screams of 50 widows and 250 orphans as they gather about and see the distorted features and mangled remains of father or husband, son or brother, or realize at last that there is no hope to see their loved ones rescued alive from the mine's depths. The mules that were in the mine were killed, as were the men, evidently by the force of the concussion, and are being removed to-day as they are reached on account of the odor of their charred flesh.
The explosion blew out or loosened all the timbering and supports and cracked and shattered the walls and roof of the mine, so that the search for the dead is attended with great peril. The work of recovering the dead becomes more difficult as the working parties advance toward the seventh level, where it is thought the thirty-eight men whose bodies have not been found, were gathered to await the coming of the "last man" trip of the day, which was to take them to the surface.
A few lives were saved because of the time of the explosion. The miners quit work at 6 o'clock, and it is customary for them to be near the entrance and come out just as the whistle blows. A number of men had come out, and some had just left the entrance to the mine slope, away from the working tunnel, when the explosion occurred, thus escaping death.
JOHN HANNA, a carpenter, had just come out, and was talking to COX and BRUCE when they were killed, he being burned slightly.
The New York Times New York 1895-03-22