Gladstone, CO Gold King Mine Accident, Jun 1908


Five Men Die Trying to Rescue Comrades.


Volunteers Brave Death in Poisonous Fumes.


Discovery Is Made Too Late That Three Miners Are Left Behind When Shaft Is Closed to Prevent Spread of Flames.

SILVERTON, Colo., June 7.---Six men are dead, eight others in a dangerous condition from breathing foul air, and 25 to 30 more temporarily confined to their homes from weakness due to contact with poisoned air in the Gold King mine, located at Gladstone, six miles from here.

The dead:


Left in Shaft Without Air.

On Thursday night fire was discovered in the engine-room of the mine, and before it could be brought under control that building had been destroyed as well as the shafthouse. The two buildings were located near the portal door of the main shaft, and to prevent the spread of the flames and accumulation of smoke in the workings of the mine, these doors were closed temporarily. Before taking this precautionary move the men working the night shift in the mine were hurriedly notified of the conditions on the surface and instructed to withdraw.

When the flames had been extinguished, in order to make sure that all was well with the men, the list was checked over. The discovery was made then that three men were missing. Immediately efforts to rescue them were started, but with little hope of reaching them alive, as the machinery operating the fans had been out of commission by the destruction of the engine-house and any pure air that might have reached them from the surface had been shut off by the closing of the portal doors.

Willing Hands to Rescue.

The first ones to enter the mine returned in haste and informed those waiting that the mine was filled with four air, and it was almost impossible to breathe it. The men all expressed willingness to risk contact with the foul air if the missing men could be rescued, and accordingly two rescue parties were formed and the men started into the mine in groups of five, by means of the electric elevators, which fortunately were still working. Instructions were given that as soon as anyone showed signs of faintness the rest were to immediately bring him to the surface.

The air generated by the motion of the elevator cleared the atmosphere in the elevator shaft so that but little discomfort was experienced there. Soon after a score or more of rescuers had entered the mine, some of those first in appeared at the foot of the elevator shaft carrying the unconscious forms of rescuers who had succumbed to the noxious air.

Brings Up Dead Bodies.

Later a party reached the surface, bringing the dead body of Victor Erickon, and the almost lifeless bodies of John Funston and Otto Johnson, the three men whose absence caused the necessity for rescue work.

It seems that these three had found a spot where the air was not so foul as in the other portions of the mine, and Funston and Johnson had been able to live through it. The rescuers who brought these men to the surface reported that many of their companions had been overcome by the foul air and were lying in the drifts of the mine.

Instantly there was a clamor among the men at the surface to go to the aid of their fellow-workers, and it was almost impossible to keep them from overcrowding the elevator, which was kept in almost continuous motion, carrying men in and out of the mine. Those coming to the surface carried in their arms the bodies of half-suffocated men, several of whom died after reaching the surface.

Five Die Death of Heroes.

It was many hours before a thorough search of the underground workings was completed, and report was made that everyone should be accounted for. When the lists were totalled[sic] it was found that five men had heroically given up their lives for their comrades and that many were in a serious condition and never recover entirely from the effects of breathing the poison. It was not until 4 o'clock this morning that work was abandoned. The property loss to the mine was less than $10,000.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, OR 8 Jun 1908