Bessemer, MI Dynamite Explosion, May 1888



Bessemer, Mich., May 8. -- The powder house at the Colby mine blew up at 8:15 this morning. FRANK ROBATSKY was killed instantly and RICHARD RIDDLESTONE, JOHN RIDDLESTONE and WM. WILLIAMS seriously injured, although it is thought not fatally.
The explosion occurred in a small engine house 16X20 feet, twenty feet from the main engine house of the mine. There were two small hoisting drums in the building which were used for lowering timber into the mine. The drums were tended by RICHARD RIDDLESTONE, who was the only occupant of the building at the time.
The first intimation that anything was wrong was given by a subdued report of an explosion, as if only one stick of dynamite had exploded. Then RIDDLESTONE was seen to escape from this building and fall on his face and hands. His brother JOHN, and WILLIAMS and ROBATSKY heard his screams and ran toward the building, when there was such a terrific explosion that it was plainly heard at the Iron Belt mine, fifteen miles west of Bessemer.
ROBATSKY was hit on the head by some of the debris and when picked up life was extinct.
The main engine house caught fire and was totally destroyed. The loss will probably be about $5,000.
The explosion broke glass fronts in Ironwood and Hurley. It is thought that there were about ten boxes of dynamite in the building, but it is not yet known how they exploded. About that amount of dynamite was placed in the building every morning for the day's work in the mine.
An old plant of mining machinery will be used temporarily by the management of the Colby mine, so that ore can be hoisted again in a day or two.
About 350,000 tons of ore will be shipped from this mine this season, and fully 600 men are now employed in getting out ore.

Hurley, Wis., May 8. -- The explosion of the Colby mine powder house, at Bessemer, this morning, was plainly felt here, shaking houses, breaking windows, etc.

The Wakefield Bulletin Michigan 1888-05-12