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Great Western Coal and Coke Company
Busby No. 2 Mine Explosion

Wilburton, Latimer County, Oklahoma
March 31, 1910
No. Killed - 6

USBM Final Investigation Report  (1.0 Mb)  PDF Format

Six Killed in Mine Explosion
Evening News, Ada, Oklahoma
April 1, 1910

Wilburton, Okla., March 31. -- A terrific explosion occurred at 3 a.m. today in the lowest vein of coal mine No. 2, Smithtown, owned by William Busby and associates in which six of the oldest and most experienced miners of the Wilburton district were instantly killed.

List of the dead:
  • William Phalen
  • Thad Cunningham
  • Julius Boyd
  • M. Hoffman
  • William McMahan
  • M. Belcher
The cause of the explosion has not been definitely determined, but it is generally supposed to have been a "windy shot" which in turn set off a twenty-five pound box of dynamite which is claimed by some to have been left in the mine.

The six miners had just finished their last day's work before going out upon suspension pending an agreement of wages and the rope rider had sent down an empty car to bring them to the surface and had himself gone home.  The pump man had also just come out and was a hundred yards away when the explosion took place and the six men who had been engaged upon the night shift in sinking the slope were all that remained in the mine at the time.

When the bodies were brought to the top it was found they had been literally cooked and that the force of the explosion had blown the coal dust into the flesh.  In some cases the skin from the back of their hands and fingers was hanging in shreds.  The short space of two minutes more and the car would have been at the top and their lives saved.

William Phalen, one of the dead men, was one of the best posted Masons in eastern Oklahoma and the rest of the men were among the town's best citizens and were held in high esteem.  A particularly sad feature of the catastrophe was that of M. Belcher, who was killed together with his two sons-in-law leaving three widows in one family.  A total of twenty-two children were left orphans.

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