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Butte-Superior Company
Butte-Superior Mine Hoisting Disaster

Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana
September 3, 1911
No. Killed - 6

Bureau of Mines Investigation Report  PDF Format
Washington Post News Article

It was customary at this mine for the station tender to collect the dull drill steel on the various levels about 15 minutes before the end of the shift and have it hoisted through Black Rock Shaft to the surface in what was called the "drill boat.''

Only the station tenders were allowed to ride with this steel, but on the night of the accident five men, desirous of getting out early, took the chance of quitting shortly before the end of the shift to ride up with the steel.

The cage started at the 1,300 level, where drill steel was loaded and one victim got on there.  At the 1,200 level station two more men got on, and two others at the 900 level.

When the cage left the 900 level it contained about 250 pieces of steel in the drill boat and six men, including the cage tender.  The cage was so crowded that the station tender, who stayed behind, had trouble in closing the cage gate.

It is not known exactly what happened; either the drill steel got disarranged or, more probably, one of the men got caught by a wall place of the shaft timbering; at any rate, both steel and men were dragged from the upper deck of the cage where they were riding.

The hosting engineer felt a slight tremor in the rope and stopped the hoist, which was running slowly because of hoisting drill steel.  One of the men was found on the lower deck of the cage and the other five in the shaft sump; all six were dead.

Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume III

Steel Drills Kill 6
Washington Post, District of Columbia
September 9, 1911

Miners Crushed to Death in a Hoisting Cage.

In Their Anxiety to Reach the Surface, Workmen Jumped on a Cage Loaded with Dull Drills in Violation of the Company's Rules -- Bodies of Men Decapitated.

Butte, Mont., Sept. 3. -- Caught in a vortex of whirling steel drills while being hoisted to the surface in a mine cage, five miners met a shocking death in the shaft of the Black Rock mine of the Butte-Superior Company today.  A sixth miner, James Lee, died a few hours later in the hospital from his injuries.

In their anxiety to reach the surface the workmen jumped on a cage upon which dull steel drills were being taken to the surface.  It is presumed that in their crowding the men dislodged the steel shafts from the box in which they were held and they caught in the wall plates on the sides, fairly mincing the miners' bodies as the bounded back and forth and finally sweeping them into the dump 1,400 feet below.

Charles Green, station tender, was hurled from the upper deck of the cage to the lower level by the impact when the brakes were applied, and was decapitated, as were all the other miners, with the exception of Lee, whose head was mashed to a pulp.

Thomas Dennihay, station tender, pleaded with the miners not to board the cage while the steel was being hoisted, as the act was in violation of the company's rules, but they passed him by, as they were anxious to reach the surface before "tally."

All stepped on the car below the 1,000-foot level, with the exception of Charles Green and James Lee.  Dennihay left the cage at that station, and was succeeded by his partner, Green.

The signal to hoist had been given and the cage had shot up some distance when the steel began to move.  It is conjectured that it became a death-dealing mass in a moment, for one drill is struck in a wall plate and bent double.  Instantly the men were crushed and torn, while their bodies were hurled with tremendous force off the deck to the bottom of the shaft, where they were found in 2 feet of water.

The dead:
  • Charles Green, 28 years old, married
  • Leo Chevrier, 24 years old, unmarried
  • Patrick O'Neill, 32, unmarried
  • Dan Sheehan, 40, unmarried
  • James Lee, 34, unmarried
  • Daniel Shea, 36, unmarried

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