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Phelps Dodge and Company
Stag Canon No. 2 Mine Explosion

Dawson, Colfax County, New Mexico
October 22, 1913
No. Killed - 263

USBM Preliminary Investigation Report  (3.7 Mb)  PDF Format
New Articles:
The Washington Times, Oct. 24, 1913  (3.8 Mb)  PDF Format
Evening Independent, Oct. 25, 1913  External Link
New York Times, Oct. 25, 1913  PDF Format
Lake Benton Valley News, Oct. 29, 1913  External Link
See also: Stag Canon No. 1 Explosion, Feb. 8, 1923

Successful Rescue

Nine miners, found unconscious near the bottom of the airshaft, were rescued by an apparatus crew after about 5 hours.  They were revived by the use of pulmotors.  At 6:15 p.m., the first miner to be rescued alive within 12 hours was taken from the main entry.  He was found unconscious, two miles within the mine.  Source document  External Link

(From the U. S. Bureau of Mines Report by G. S. Rice)

The mine, opened by drifts, employed about 300 men.  Coal was undercut, mostly by machine but some by hand-pick mining.  Permissible explosives were used, fired electronically from outside.  The mine was dry, and sprays were placed at intervals to wet the dust; they were not effective beyond 6 feet.  The mine was usually free from firedamp except for occasional pockets, coming from the roof.  Open lights were used.

At about 3 p.m. blasts carrying smoke and dust burst out of the main openings.  The explosion doors and one side of the fan house were blown out but were repaired in less than 2 hours.

Of the 284 men in the mine, 14 from an unaffected section came out safely, and nine others, unconscious near the bottom of the airshaft, were rescued by an apparatus crew about 8 p.m.  They were revived by the use of pulmotors.

Two helmet men were lost that night when they overtaxed the oxygen supply by overexertion and going in farther than instructed.  The oxygen was supplied at a fixed rate and when they tried to remove the oxygen bottles to breathe from them, they were overcome by afterdamp.

The explosion originated in a dusty pillar section where an overcharged shot had been fired.  The explosion was propagated by coal dust along the haulage roads and into most of the workings, except where water and inert dust in the roads caused it to die away.

The violence was not great, but cars were wrecked in some places and most of the stoppings blown out.  Dynamite was used in blasting rock and may have been used in the pillar shot.  The use of permissible explosives for all blasting, blasting only after the shift, and use of rock dust with the watering system were recommended.

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

Rescuer Deaths

On October 22, 1913, James Laird and William Poyser, members of a rescue crew of five men of the Stag Canon Fuel Company, lost their lives while on an exploration trip in the No. 2 mine of the same company at Dawson, New Mexico, following an explosion that killed 256 men.

The crew, equipped with Draeger helmet-type apparatus, had been instructed that if they came to heavy falls they were not to attempt to go over them; so, when a heavy fall was encountered the leader of the crew, in accordance with his instructions, told the others they had better return to the fresh-air base.  However, two members of the crew disregarded these instructions and pushed forward over the fall; they were followed by the others, and eventually, the crew reached the face of the entries, a distance of about 2,000 feet from the fresh-air base.

Soon after examining the faces of the entries and before starting back toward the fresh-air base, Laird collapsed.  Poyser, in attempting to revive Laird, also collapsed.  The leader of the crew stayed with the men; attempting to revive them, while the remaining two crew members returned to the fresh-air base.  When the crew leader realized that his oxygen supply was getting low, he also returned to the fresh-air base.  The accident disorganized the rescue personnel so badly that it was not possible to assemble a crew of volunteers to recover the bodies until the next morning.

Source: Loss of Life Among Wearers of Oxygen Breathing Apparatus (April 1944)
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