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Anaconda, Montana

Stewart Mine Explosion

September 14, 1900


TIMOTHY KELLY and JAMES MURRAY, Alone in the 600 Drift, Torn Into Bits and Shreds by the Explosion of a Part of a Box of Giant-The Theory is That the Men Were Priming Charges When a Cap Exploded.

Two men were killed in the Stewart mine some time during yesterday morning's early shift. They were TIMOTHY KELLY and JAMES MURRAY, single. Their bodies were torn into shreds and bits by an explosion, the cause of which is fixed only by conjecture.

MURRAY and KELLY were working on the sill floor of the 600 level, drilling at the breast. Twelve holes had been drilled, four of which were loaded.

There was a box of about 25 pounds of giant in a chamber of the drift about 150 feet out from the point where the men were working. It is the theory that the men went out to the powder box for enough powder with which to load the remaining eight holes, and that while there the powder exploded. Probably while in the act of priming a stick of powder with a cap the latter exploded and ignited the box of powder thus causing the destruction.

The explosion occurred either just before 12 o'clock night before last or 7 o'clock yesterday morning. There is no certainty as to the time of the explosion. Holes are fired just before 12 midnight and before 7, the hour of going off shift.

Not a Living Witness

There were no other miners working on that level at the time. There was no knowledge of the disaster until Miners TOKER and MORRISSY went to work yesterday morning at 7 o'clock. When they reached the point of explosion a terrible sight greeted them. The drift was clogged by an immense cave. There were traces of dense powder smoke, which told the story in language more forcible than mere words. It dawned upon the men at once that trouble had occurred. A hurried observation of the debris brought to the vision a fragment of a human body. This was sufficient to convince the miners that their first impressions were correct. A further survey revealed more bits and pieces of human flesh. There were bits of red flannel under-clothing and bits of blue pieces of overalls and overshirts.

The Alarm Given

Word was promptly sent to the surface and Superintendent BRYANT, Coroner JULLIEN and Deputy Mine Inspector FRANK HUNTER were notified and responded promptly. They inspected the cave and arrived at the theory above stated. MR. HUNTER effected an entrance to the breast of the drift by means of a different route and noted the work done there, above mentioned. His theory is that the explosion was caused by an exploded cap at the temporary magazine, where the miners were evidently priming the charges of giant preparatory to loading the eight holes.

The Wreckage

About 50 or 60 feet of timbers are blown out and a cave-in here resulted. the extent of which will not be known until much further progress is made towards removing the strewn timers and rocks As the bits of flesh are found they are placed in baskets. So great was the explosion that the steel car rails in the drift at that point are twisted and broken. The men were working for TOM HINDS and others, who have a lease on the mine from the 600 level up.

Word was sent from the mine last night at midnight that it was not expected to reach the bodies before this morning. Occasionally during the progress of the work of removing the debris bits of human flesh were found. The trunks of the bodies, at midnight, were several feet further in the clogged drift.

The Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, MT 15 Sept 1900



Crews Working to Clear Away Debris in Stewart Mine.


Some Theories Have It That One of the Men Was Not Killed by the Explosion, but Rather by the Cave Caused by It.

Disappointment was the lot of the anxious crew that has been shoveling away the dirt and debris in the effort to find the bodies of KELLY and MURRAY, who were killed in the Stewart mine Thursday morning by the explosion of a quantity of giant powder in the 600 drift.

It was believed and hoped that the bodies would be reached by yesterday morning, but it has developed that the task will involve a great deal more effort on the part of the many willing hands that toil incessantly to recover the bodies of the miners.

The quantity of earth caved into the drift is enormous-the explosion loosened a larger section of ground than it was at first supposed. Progress is necessarily slow. Yesterday it was stated that the bodies would in all probability not be reached before Monday.

It is now believed that but one of the men was killed outright by the explosion and that the other was caught in the cave a distance from the scene of the explosion. This, however, is merely conjecture, such expression being given circulation yesterday.

This theory is based upon the fact that the bits of clothing found among the debris are pieces from the underwear identified as that worn by KELLY. It is now thought by some that KELLY was in the act of priming the charge as the magazine exploded and that possibly MURRAY was some distance away when the explosion occurred and that be was killed by the cave-in. In this event, it is hoped to find MURRAY's body, at least, intact. There is little hope of finding more than the trunk of the body that was clothed in the underware, bits of which, adhering to bits of flesh, are found scattered promiscuously through the great pile of waste.

Another crew of men has been set to work on the breast side of the cave, and while all the men that can be practically put to the job are at work, still many hours must elapse before the debris shall be removed. Word has been received from KELLY's mother, who resides in Pennsylvania, requesting that the body be shipped there.

The Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, MT 15 Sept 1900



Remains of Explosion Victims Buried Yesterday

The remains of JAMES J MURRAY and THOMAS KELLY, who were killed last Friday morning in the Stewart mine, were buried yesterday. The funeral took place from St. Patrick's Catholic church and many friends attended. The services were in the forenoon and mass was said. The bodies were buried side by side.

The Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, MT 19 Sept 1900

Transcribed by Linda Houston. Thanks, Linda!


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