Anaconda, MT Stewart Mine Explosion, Sept 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