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Colorado Fuel and Iron Company
Starkville Mine Explosion

Starkville, Huerfano County, Colorado
October 8, 1910
No. Killed - 56

Colorado Inspector of Coal Mines Report  PDF Format
Related Correspondence and News  (1.5 Mb)  PDF Format
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Entombed Miners in Colorado Hopelessly Walled In
The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska
October 11, 1910

Starkville, Col., Oct. 10. -- As darkness settled tonight over the entrance to the Starkville mine, the hope that had buoyed up the watchers at the pit mouth throughout the day that some of the fifty or more men entombed there would be found alive grew faint and gloom settles again over the silent crowd.  This morning the experts at the head of the rescue party were confident that some of the men walled in by Saturday night's explosion were alive.  They believed the portable fan forcing pure air into the workings would keep the men alive, until they could be reached, but as the day rescue party stumbled slowly out of the slope tonight one glance at their faces told the watchers that hope was almost vain.

Get Within 900 Feet

After a day of hard work in the face of constant peril, the rescue party penetrated the mine working nearly 12,000 feet, or within 900 feet of the men imprisoned nearest the main entrance, instead of finding the mine clear of debris and afterdamp at this point, the workings were found be badly wrecked, and poisonous gases were again encountered.  The leaders would not consent to the rescuers going further until sufficient fresh air had been fanned into the mine to insure safety.  It was decided to retreat to the open, leaving the portable fan going until the interior of the mine was cleared of the deadly afterdamp.

Throughout the day the rescue party pushed forward with extreme care, lest it should be suddenly overwhelmed by bad air.

After passing the principal crosscut which connects the old and new slopes, and which was used as the main haulageway, the party came upon cave-ins, plainly indicating the course of the explosion.  Ten thousand feet from the entrance, the place where a fan had been operated before the explosion was badly damaged.  The fan was torn to pieces and scattered hundreds of feet.  The 1,200 pound motor had been thrown fifty feet from its bed.  The party was compelled to stop and make repairs.  Brattices were erected and in the meantime a dog which had accompanied the party wandered aimlessly ahead.  It was found later laying stretched upon the floor overcome by afterdamp.

Evidence of Afterdamp

When the rescue party renewed its journey inward it branched off for a short distance, and then took a southerly coarse toward the spot where the pickmen were supposed to have been working Saturday.  The dog's experience proved valuable, and reconnoitering parties were selected from the main party and sent ahead to test the air.  Those scouting parties reported that afterdamp was notable in all the short cuts and also in the main slope.  General Manager Weitzel was given this information by portable telephone and ordered the men out of the mine until the air could be improved.

While the night shift was waiting to be sent inside the mine a gang was put to work installing a blower at the mouth of the air shaft to prevent the sudden stoppage of air supply by the failure of the portable fan.  Several times during the day this fan stopped working but was speedily repaired.  All day long the hills facing the mine were dotted with groups of women and children waiting for news of the entombed men.

As the silent nods of the rescue party told that no bodies were expected to be found until late tonight the mothers gathered their little ones and settled to wait and watch through the night.  State Mine Inspector Jones was the last of the rescuers to come out.  He said that he felt sure the rescuers would come upon bodies tonight.

Claims Men Can be Alive

It is known that at least eleven men in the min when the explosion occurred Saturday night are at least a mile from the first cross-cut through which the bad air in the Starkville mine is supposed to be floating into her sister mine on the opposite side of the hill.

Without any stretch of the imagination, said Inspector Jones today, these men could be alive and perfectly safe unless a cave-in crushed out their lives, of the blackdamp had reached them while fans were being set up.

Desperate dashes in the face of death gave way to more effective and infinitely less dangerous methods of rescue work today.  As an indication of the thoroughness with which the rescue work was progressing, the stringing of a telephone wire was promptly begun as soon as equipment arrived.  The builders soon had caught up with the rescue party and District Superintendent James Thompson of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, in charge of rescue work for the company, telephoned out the glad tidings that all was well with the rescue party and that ground was being covered rapidly.

A record of the list of employees at the Starkville mines adds four names to the list of missing.  These make a total of fifty-five missing, according to the list of the company.

Word came out of the mouth of the mine at midnight that the portable fan near the entrance to the east slope, or short-cut of the mine, was working with precision, and the deadly afterdamp which threatened the lives of the rescuers and drove them from the slope yesterday had been scattered away from the fan, and the belief was expressed that the interior would be gradually relieved of this menace.

Renewed Efforts to Find Men

Today renewed efforts to reach the entombed men were inaugurated, part of the plan being, it was announced to find a path to where they are believed to be huddled together, in death, or perhaps, if still alive, enclosed in a small space selected by themselves and quickly shut off by them, when the explosion came to protect themselves from the blackdamp, which invariably follows explosions in coal mines.  The later hypothesis is based, of course, upon the probability that the men were not instantly killed by the explosion, or suffocated afterwards by deadly gases.

Every plan that the ingenuity of experts can summon is being put into use to penetrate the black depths of the mine and reach the imprisoned men, who have been mourned as dead for twenty-four hours.

David Obosh, one of the oldest Starkville miners in point of service, astonished his friends by appearing in camp last night uninjured.  According to Obosh's own story it was by the merest chance that he escaped the calamity that overwhelmed the mine last Saturday night.  For fourteen years Obosh has been employed at Starkville and for the last six months he has not missed a shift.

Saturday night he went to Trinidad with a party of friends.  Before the hour of the explosion Obosh had become so saturated with conviviality that he sought seclusion and slept in an unaccustomed retreat, and it was not until late last night that he returned to Starkville and his accustomed haunts.

A pitiable case is the probable death of Francis Goggins, the only support of a twice widowed mother.  The aged woman is the mother of fourteen children.  Her first husband was killed at Grey Creek eleven years ago and the second met death at Starkville, two years ago.  Only one son, too young to work, and three daughters survive.

Mrs. John Childs, an aged woman and her daughter-in-law, Mrs. C. Childs, aided an emergency boarding house close to the mine portal.  The elder child, an old time engineer, has remained near the mine since the explosion and is frequently consulted by officials and men engaged in rescue work.

Pathetic Incident Brought Out

A pathetic incident came to light today when a message sent to the wife and children of Anton Lysczarz in Poland that he had probably been killed in the explosion.  Mrs. Lysczarz was on the point of starting to America to join her husband.  Three months ago, after countless discouragements, Lysczarz had got together enough money to pay her passage.  He was badly injured in another accident and his was compelled to sell the ticket to secure medical attention.  The passage money was sent to Poland a second time but a few days ago.

One of the few watchers allowed within the lines about the pit mouth was Jack Greet, a white-haired old man, whose son, Frank, is among the missing.  Frank Greet came to Starkville a few days ago to care for his father, and was in charge of one of the electric coal trains.  He had taken his train into the main slope but a few seconds before the explosion, and his father pleases to be allowed to search the main slope for his son's body.

Moved by his distress, State Mine Inspector Jones late last night ventured among the wreckage of the main slope.  In a moment Jones reappeared and told the old man that any attempt to reach his son from that direction was hopeless.  Greet walked slowly back to the timbers, where he has kept vigil since the explosion.  All efforts to induce him to go home were fruitless, and he was allowed to remaining within the lines.

Scenes at Mine
Nevada State Journal, Reno, Nevada
October 10, 1910

Frank Greet, 19 years of age, who is among the missing, was employed as a motor driver.  His duty was to operate the motor which drew trains of coal cars out of the haulage way.  When his aged father, Frank Greet, learned of the explosion, he hastened to the mine a mile and a half away from his home, and he started to enter the slope to search for his son.

He was stopped by a guard who explained that he could not possible get in and out.   Let me go, he cried, as tears ran down his wrinkled face.   I know where my son is, and I will bring him out.  He is not far in the mine and must be alive.  Please let me go.

He was led away weeping.

A polish woman, whose husband is among the missing, called at the home of Superintendent Wilson and bewailed her loss in broken English to the wife of the superintendent.

My man is gone, I kill myself, she screamed and drew a revolver from the folds of her dress.   I will fight and it will kill my children.

Mr. Wilson detained her and she explained that she had children and she had no food.  Mrs. Wilson prepared a basket of food and sent the woman to her home.

The list of 51 missing prepared by the man who canvassed the camp today is:
  • John Keimle, Pole, 31
  • Gregory Desialmola, Russian, 28
  • Felice Portu (no data)
  • Top Upperdine, American, 34, wife and two children
  • Albert Hay, Pole, 25, single
  • Baronofsky, Pole, 22, single
  • Josa Zapransky, Pole, 28, wife and three children
  • Joe Fratansky, Pole, 40, wife and four children
  • Frank Frankl, Pole, wife
  • John Graftie, Pole, single
  • Nicoli Eurouzski, Pole, wife and three children
  • Joe Tebrowitski, Pole, 35, wife and three children
  • Francois Goggins, American, 16
  • Emil Harowath, Servian, 31: wife and one child
  • Joe Yeorwich, Servian, single
  • Frank Kleml, Pole, 19, single
  • John Chuse, Pole, 37, wife and three children
  • Antone Maiacone, Italian, 24, wife and one child
  • Guigo Giacomo, Italian, 24, wife and two children
  • Vit Nezlo, Pole, 38, wife and three children
  • Tony Voscher, Pole, 35, wife and three children
  • Louis, Pole, 37, wife and two children
  • John Lebinsky, Pole, 21, single
  • Jim Zimpah, Pole, 22, married
  • Pete Vianco, Pole, 32, wife and two children
  • Mike Korvoric, Pole, 34, wife and four children
  • Lawrence Kohara, Pole, 50, wife and six children
  • Frank Ueachle, Pole, 27, single
  • John Tobias, Pole, 31, wife and three children
  • John Mehora, Pole, 45, wife and three children
  • Rudolph Kempeny, Pole, 22, single
  • Rudolph Pottasic, Pole, 29, wife and three children
  • Luke Upperdine, American, 50, wife and five children
  • Frank Brock, Pole, 37, single
  • Paul Tusnic, Pole, 40, single
  • Henry Lenon, colored, 31, married
  • Fred Seppe, American, 35, single
  • Umberto Sante Cruz, Italian, single
  • Savior Santacruz, Italian, 23, single
  • Esquala Gallegos, Mexican, 40, single
  • Clario Lopez, Mexican, single
  • Alexander Gallegos, Mexican, 19, single
  • Anton Malacome, Italian, 37, wife
  • Giulermo Baldosari, Italian, 25, married
  • Stephano Mussatt, Italian, wife and three children
  • Joe Selano, Italian, 24, single
  • John Fanoro, Italian, 20, single
  • Tom Tomozino, Italian, 35, wife and three children
  • Wilbur Headquist, American, 20, single

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