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Rocky Mountain Coal and Iron Company
Red Canyon No. 5 Mine Explosion

Evanston, Uinta County, Wyoming
March 20, 1895
No. Killed - 62

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
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(From Engineering and Mining Journal, Mar. 23, 1895 (p. 280), Apr.6 (p. 327), May 11 (p. 447), and from accounts given to Bureau of Mines by rescue workers)

Sixty-two men perished in a terrific explosion which occurred about 5:45 p.m. in mine No. 5, at Red Canyon, Wyoming.  * * * About 150 men were employed in the mine, but many of them had come out before the disaster occurred.  Just before the explosion a number of men had reached the surface, and those who started at once for their homes escaped injury in the flying debris resulting from the wreck of the hoisting works.

* * * The shock of the explosion was felt for miles around and * * * was heard 7 miles away.  * * * The explosion blew out or loosened all the timbering and supports and cracked and shattered the walls and roof, so that the search for the dead was attended with great peril.  * * * and grows more difficult as the working parties advance toward the 7th level where * * * 38 men were.

* * * The State mine inspector * * * testified that * * * in his opinion the explosion was caused by a blown-out shot which ignited coal dust.  * * * Other witnesses gave testimony that the explosion was caused by an overabundance of gas in the mine, and that due precaution' had not been exercised.  Coal was blasted from the solid.  Black blasting powder was used to charge the holes, and blasting barrels and squibs were used to fire the shots at any time during the shift.

All of the 58 men in the mine were killed and also 4 others who were in line with the opening on the surface.  The mine was gassy, and gas watchmen made rounds from 4 a.m. until noon when they left.  The mine was reopened in May 1896.

Death to Sixty Miners
The New York Times, New York
March 22, 1895

Evanston, Wyoming, March 21. -- Sixty men lost their lives by an explosion in Coal Mine No. 5 of the Rocky Mountain Coal and Iron Company at Red Canyon last evening:

The explosion demolished the power house at the mouth of the shaft.  About twenty men were in the house at the time, and only one or two escaped with their lives.

The explosion filled the mouth of the shaft with wreckage of the power house and prevented egress.  Subsequent developments showed that it also caused several cave-ins, thus hampering attempts at rescue.

Many of the miners had quit for the day and left the mine, and to this is due the fact that the death list is not longer.  Rescue parties were organized immediately after the explosion.  About three hours later one of the parties which had entered the main slope returned with two bodies, bringing also the bad news that cave-ins barred further progress.  This necessitated laborious work removing the obstructions, as the main passage is some 2,000 feet in length, and has lateral galleries or drifts on nine different levels, each of which is from a mile to a mile and a half long.  To reach this and discover if any victims were entombed therein will require days.

The work of recovering the bodies has gone steadily on night and day, rushed forward by volunteer squads of miners and other citizens, who have relieved each other from time to time.  The work is attended with grave peril, and the first group of miners which ventured to brave the perils of gas, fire-damp, and crumbling walls were overcome, and had to be rescued by others.

The terrific force of the explosion in finding vent at the mouth of the slope blew the heavily timbered shed over the mouth of the slope and over the passageway leading out to the tipple clear into space, mowing down the tops of the power house, tipple shed, and other buildings at the mouth of the slope, more effectually than chain shot could have done.

A little boy, who had come to the mine with a horse and buggy to take his grandfather, Henry Burton, home at the close of the day's work was driving over the slope near its mouth on the public highway at the moment of the explosion.  He and the horse and buggy were thrown almost perpendicularly in the air, fully twenty-five feet, and all fell in a heap into the mouth of the slope, where the buggy was demolished.  The boy was picked up unhurt, and the horse, an hour later, was rescued from the first level, down to which he had tumbled, and was not much hurt, apparently, although badly singed and stunned.

The shock of the explosion was felt for miles around, and was distinctly heard at Evanston, seven miles away.

The Rocky Mountain Company, generally designated as the Central Pacific Mines, has two mines, Nos. 5 and 6, with one-mile face, making two separate mines with 150-foot pillars separating them.  The explosino leaves No. 6 unharmed, but deprives the company of one-half of its capacity.

This is the third disastrous explosion in this vicinity.  In 1881, No. 2 Mine, Rocky Mountain, exploded, killing thirty-six Chinese and four white men.  In the Spring of 1886, in Union Pacific Mine No. 4, thirty-six men were killed.

The slope penetrates the earth at an angle of about 30 degrees, and the full force of the explosion found vent at its mouth, blowing the heaviest timbers into splinters and through the air like chain shot from a mortar.  Pieces of boards and scantling cut their way like steel bullets through the roofing and rafters of the power house and everything in their way.

The air was filled with the screams of 50 widows and 250 orphans as they gather about and see the distorted features and mangled remains of father or husband, son or brother, or realize at last that there is no hope to see their loved ones rescued alive from the mine's depths.  The mules that were in the mine were killed, as were the men, evidently by the force of the concussion, and are being removed today as they are reached on account of the odor of their charred flesh.

The explosion blew out or loosened all the timbering and supports and cracked and shattered the walls and roof of the mine, so that the search for the dead is attended with great peril.  The work of recovering the dead becomes more difficult as the working parties advance toward the seventh level, where it is thought the thirty-eight men whose bodies have not been found, were gathered to await the coming of the "last man" trip of the day, which was to take them to the surface.

A few lives were saved because of the time of the explosion.  The miners quit work at 6 o'clock, and it is customary for them to be near the entrance and come out just as the whistle blows.  A number of men had come out, and some had just left the entrance to the mine slope, away from the working tunnel, when the explosion occurred, thus escaping death.

John Hanna, a carpenter, had just come out, and was talking to Cox and Bruce when they were killed, he being burned slightly.

The dead are:
  1. Booth, Thomas
  2. Brown, Willard
  3. Bruce, James B.
  4. Butler, Aaron
  5. Burton, Henry
  6. Clark, Albert
  7. Clark, Charles S.
  8. Clark, James W.
  9. Clark, James T.
  10. Clarke, John T.
  11. Clay, Samuel
  12. Coles, Daniel
  13. Cox, W. Edwin
  14. Crawford, Jerry
  15. Critchley, John
  16. Dermodi, Angel
  17. Dexter, John
  18. Fearn, John
  19. Gernely, James
  20. Graham, Jr., William
  21. Grieves, W. H.
  22. Halston, Samuel
  1. Hardy, George
  2. Highton, Joseph
  3. Hutchinson, James
  4. Hutchinson, Thomas
  5. Hutchinson, Samuel
  6. Hybarn, H. A.
  7. Hyde, George
  8. Hyden, James
  9. Johnson, Isaac
  10. Johnson, Matt
  11. Julian, Baptiste
  12. Kasola, Charles
  13. Kasola, Gus
  14. Lamb, James
  15. La Par, John
  16. Langdon, Marshall
  17. Langdon, Sr., William
  18. Laurie, David W.
  19. Lehte, John.
  20. Lester, John
  21. Lloyd, David
  1. Locke, John G.
  2. Maltby, O. B.
  3. Martin, Jr., John G.
  4. Mason, Andrew
  5. Miller, Walter
  6. Morgan, Fred
  7. Morriss, James
  8. Morriss, John
  9. Morriss, William
  10. Phebey, John
  11. Pope, William
  12. Sellers, Jr., William
  13. Silta, Matt
  14. Sloan, Hugh
  15. Southern, Henry
  16. Tellers, Sr., William
  17. Tellers, Jr., William
  18. Theby, John
  19. Wagstaff, William<
  20. Weedup, William
  21. Wilkes, John
Note: According to the the CDC/NIOSH mine disaster list and the MSHA Fatality Archive Database, 62 were killed in this disaster.
64 is the total number of fatalities found here.  PDF Format
Clarification of the correct spelling of John Phebey's name was provided by Craig Wales.

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