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Blue Canyon Mine Explosion

Lake Whatcom, Whatcom County, Washington
April 8, 1895
No. Killed - 23

State Mine Inspector’s Report  PDF Format
From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Explosion of Fire Damp in a Lake Whatcom Mine
The Fresno Morning Republican, California
April 9, 1895

Seattle, April 8. -- A New Whatcom special to the Post-Intelligencer says:
News has just been received of a terrible explosion in the Blue Canyon coal mine on Lake Whatcom, seven miles from this city.  Ten dead bodies have been taken out and thirteen men are still in the mine.  Every possible effort is being made to rescue them.  A steamer has gone out from this city with Superintendent Donovan, three physicians, ten miners and a press correspondent on board.  The mine was inspected three weeks ago and pronounced safe.

Tacoma, April 8. -- A Ledger special from New Whatcom gives these details of the coal mine explosion there:

An explosion from firedamp in Blue Canyon coal mine, on Lake Whatcom, at 2:45 this afternoon, killed twenty-one men.

W. A. Telford came from the mine tonight.  He was at the bunkers when the explosion occurred.  He went to the incline and found James Kearns at the mouth of the shaft nearly dead with exhaustion.  Kearns said all in the mine were dead.  He had carried Ben Morgan as far as he was able and dropped him.  Morgan, he thought, was dead.  Kearns and N. Cellum were the only ones who escaped, out of twenty-four who were at work.  Tom Valentine and J. O. Anderson were the incline men, and they escaped.

At the switch of the gangway, 800 feet from the mouth of the tunnel, Ecklund and Telford found the body of George Roberts, and beyond were three loaded cars which had been blown off the track, and found the body of Ben Morgan where it was dropped by Kearns, Ecklund and others.  They were unable to go beyond room 21, 500 feet from the tunnel and gangway.  Their safety lamps went out, and the gas drove the explorers back.

In room 21 they found the bodies of James Kirby and Thomas Conlin.  It is supposed that in addition to the four found seventeen perished.  The gas was so thick that the rescuing party was able to stay only a few minutes.

The missing men with families are:
  • D. Y. Jones, superintendent
  • James Kirby
  • Andrew Anderson
  • James McAndrew
  • Mike Zeiliski
The single men were:
  • Lucas Latke
  • E. P. Chase
  • Thomas Conlin
  • George Roberts
  • Ben Morgan
  • John Williams
  • Al Henderson
  • William Evans
  • Isaac Johnson
  • William Lyster
  • Charles Ramberg
  • Samuel Olsen
  • J. A. Morgan
  • Martin Blum
Engineer J. J. Donovan of the mine was notified at his home in Fairhaven and left with a party of men experienced in underground work.  They left this evening on a special train over the Bellingham Bay and Eastern and took the steamer Thistle to the mine.  Physicians accompanied them.

Mr. Donovan says he does not understand how the explosion occurred, as safety lamps were used everywhere out in the gangway.  The tunnel is 800 feet long and the gangway 1000 feet long and has twenty-six rooms opening from it.  The fans were kept running all the time and the cause of the explosion is unknown.

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