Burke, ID Fatal Snowslide, Feb 1890

Burke IDAHO circa 1888.jpg



A Spokane Falls dispatch of the 5th says:
The town of Burke, Idaho, in the Coeur d'Alene mining district, has been nearly destroyed by disastrous avalanches. Half of the business houses are in ruins. Three men were killed, and the terror-stricken inhabitants have fled to the tows of Gem and Wallace, fearing a repetition of the disaster. Patriculars are meager, as the wires to all points in the mines have gone down, leaving no means of communication. The disaster occurred yesterday afternoon, and this morning, with scarcely a moment's warning, a tremendous mass of snow and rocks swept down upon the town from the west side of the narrow gulch in which it is situated. Five men were buried beneath the snow. Two were rescued, but the others are dead and their bodies have not yet been recovered. The ill-fated town lies in a narrow gulch through which Canyon Creek pours its water into the south fork of the Coeur d'Alene. It had about 200 inhabitants, who have deserted their wrecked or menaced homes and places of business. The nearest town is Gem, also upon Canyon Creek, and three miles down the stream.
Yesterday another disastrous avalanche swept down upon the boarding house connected with the Custer mine, which is situated upon Nine Mile Creek, about five miles from Burke. The boarding house was full of miners, six of whom were killed. The others had a narrow escape, and a number were more or less injured. The disasters are not a surprise to those familiar with the topography of that section. The towns are situated in very narrow gulches, on either side of which abrupt mountains rise. The snow all this winter has been unprecedented in the history of the country. Within the last few days it has been raining hard, which had the effect of loosening the deep snow banks and precipitating them upon the town and the houses below.
The Coeur d'Alene mining district is one of the richest in the world, both for gold and silver. It includes the famous Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mines, perhaps the greatest fissure vein in America. The principal town is Wallace. The other towns are Wardner, Osborne, Burke and Gem.
Later reports from Burke indicate that no lives have been lost there. MR. and MRS. WISE and JACK WAITE and wife were buried in the snowslide, but all were rescued with slight injury. At Custer mine, however, the disaster was worse than at first reported. Among the dead are JACK GALBRAITH, foreman of the mine; MIKE FLYNN, cook; and TOM MAHONEY, a young miner. Forty men are employed at the mine in two shifts. One shift was below and the other was eating dinner at the time the avalanche came upon the boarding house. Many other avalanches have occurred in the Coeur d'Alene district. The canyons are full of snow, rocks and great trees. The people of that whole section are terror-stricken.

Centralia Enterprise Washington 1890-02-08