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Mansfield Mine Cave-in and Inundation

Crystal Falls, Iron County, Michigan
September 28, 1893
No. Killed - 28

Mansfield Mine Disaster Memorial
From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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Swallowed up in the Bowels of the Earth
The Daily Advocate, Newark, Ohio
September 30, 1893

Detroit, Sept. 30 - A special to the News from Iron Mountain, Michigan says:
It is reported here that the Mansfield mine, a few miles from Crystal Falls, caved in and killed forty miners.

Crystal Falls, near where this horrible calamity occurred, is in Marquette County in the northwestern part of Michigan - on the Peninsula - and some 40 miles from Lake Superior.  It is one of the greatest iron mining regions of the world and tens of thousands of men are there employed in the various mines.

The Sad Story Confirmed

Ishpeming, Mich., Sept. 30 -- A heavy fall of ground occurred at the Mansfield mine, near Crystal Falls this morning, entombing forty men with but little or no chance of escape.  The water at this mine rises fast, the ore being soft, and the chances of rescuing any of the unfortunates alive are very poor.  The situation is awful and the scene around the large cave-in is heartrending.  A rescue party is doing everything possible to reach the poor fellows with little hope of reaching them in time.

Forty-five Dead - Fifteen Escape

Marquette, Mich., Sept. 30 - A dispatch from Crystal Falls states that the Mansfield mines is seven miles east of that village on the Menominee range, the main shaft of the mine extending under the Michigan river.  When the cave-in occurred, it turned the stream into the mine, flooding it almost instantly.  There were sixty men working in the mine when the disaster occurred, and of this number fifteen made their escape.  It is not thought possible that any of the remaining forty-five men can be rescued alive.

Terrible Scenes - Drowned Like Rats

Iron Mountain, Mich., Sept. 30 - The latest information from the scene of the mine disaster at Mansfield states that the accident occurred during the night, and when the water of the Michigan river came rushing into the mine the men at work were entrapped like a lot of rats.  It is not possible that any escaped.

Most of the victims are Cornishmen and nine-tenths of them are men with large families.  This fact lends additional horror to what is one of the worst disasters which has befallen the mining industry in the Upper Peninsula.  The number of the victims is now placed at thirty-seven.

Mansfield is an isolated station on the Chicago and Northwestern road.  The greatest excitement prevails, and it is almost impossible to get connected details of the disaster and the names of the victims.  The wives and children of the buried miners are rending the air with their cries and waiting.

J. M. Longyear, of Marquette, is the principal fee owner of the Mansfield mine.  The mine was the only active one in the Crystal Falls district on account of it being a producer of high grade Bessemer ore.  It had a producing capacity of about sixty thousand tons per annum, and gave employment to about 100 men.

The Mansfield mine has always been considered a dangerous one to work in, and Thursday night's disaster has often been predicted.

Roll of the Dead

Crystal Falls, Mich., Sept. 30 - With a terrific rush the waters of the Michigan River broke through a bed weakened by mining into the Mansfield mine, drowning twenty-eight men who were at work directly under the cave-in.  There were 46 men in the mine when the accident occurred, but eighteen of them who were working in the lower levels managed to escape.  The names of the drowned miners are:
Sam Peters
W. H. Pierce
James Strongman
Charles Pohl
Ole Carlson
Joe Kola
Swan Johnson
Mike Harrington
Frank Rocke
Al Torssani
Frank Johnson
Sam Johnson
Shellimo Zadra
Peter Turry
Nicolo Fontani
John Regula
John Holmstrum
Ross Fortimo
John Kirshe
John Randala
John Warner
Oscar Lundquist
John Arcangelo
Anto Stefano
August Cologna
O. Constanti
Virgilis Zadra
Celesti Negri
None of the bodies have been recovered and it is believed that it will be necessary to divert the channel of the river before they can be secured.

The news was slow in reaching the outside world.  The nearest telegraph office is at Crystal Falls, six miles away, and though a railroad track runs into the Mansfield mine camp it was only used to haul our ore and bring in supplies.  A courier carried the news to Crystal Falls late at night but not until the morning was the news sent abroad.  It is believed to have been the worst disaster that ever occurred in the Lake Superior iron region.

When the night shift went on duty it was noticed that more water was coming into the mine than usual, but no alarm was felt by those at the pumps as they managed to keep the "drifts" free.  The miners pursued their work as on every night when they started in to pass the 12 hours underground earning bread for their families.  Suddenly, a few minutes after nine, there was a loud report and an overpowering rush of water, and the men felt themselves being overwhelmed by an avalanche of mud, ore and water.

So fast came the flood that it is doubtful whether the men on the upper levels had time to drop their tools and run for their lives to the old shaft.  Had any of them reached the perpendicular opening, however, it would have availed them nothing for the shaft known as "Old No. 1" collapsed as soon as the water reached and undermined its base.  This occurred at precisely half past nine, and it was then known to those in charge of the mine that the men in the upper level had been trapped and drowned like rats by an accident which had long been expected.

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