Roslyn, WA Mine Explosion, May 1892
FORTY TO FIFTY DEAD
Frightful Explosion of Gas In One of the Northern Pacific's Mines.
THE CAUSE IS A COMPLETE MYSTERY
Greatest Loss Of Life In the History of Mining in the Northwest.
ROSLYN, Wash., May 10. -- This afternoon a terrible gas explosion occurred in the slope of Mine No. 2 of the Northern Pacific Coal company at this point in which the loss of life has exceeded in number that of any other disaster that has ever been chronicled in the Northwest.
The exact nature of the explosion or circumstances that led to it will probably never be known since it is thought every miner who was at work in the slope at the time has perished. It is not definitely known how many men were in the vicinity of the disaster, but it is thought between forty-five and fifty men were in the levels that were effected by the explosion.
Large relief forces are at work and at this time two bodies have been recovered.
These men were working nearest to the opening and at some distance from the point where it is supposed the explosion occurred. Most of the men were 1500 and 2000 feet further in the slope and in the immediate vicinity of the accident. There is no doubt in the minds of the miners or company officials that every man was instantly killed.
The Roslyn mine was one of the largest in the state, supplying western divisions of the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads with coal and has a capacity of 20,000 tons a day. The explosion occurred just as two gangs were shifting at 1:30 o'clock. The boys who were in the tunnel escaped.
They are the only ones from either gang so far recovered. Reports so far received indicate that the explosion has closed up the shaft, that the mine is on fire and that is is impossible to recover the bodies. The company forwarded forty coffins from here by the midnight train. Those known to be killed are:
JOSEPH BREWELL, who leaves a large family.
THOMAS TIENDEN, leaves a wife and nine children.
HARRY CAMPBELL, single.
JAMES HOUSTON, colored.
JOSEPH BENNETT, wife and two children.
WILLIAM BENNETT, wife and three children in Europe, had just gone in.
JOSEPH ISMAY, son in-law of ex-Superintendent REYNOLDS.
WILLIAM PENHAB, married.
SIDNEY WRIGHT, brother of Clerk THOMAS WRIGHT, family.
The following is an authentic list of the men who were at work on the three levels that were affected and their conditions as to being single or married men:
THOMAS HOLMES, married.
JOHN FOSTER, wife and baby.
C. P. DAVIS, large family.
THOMAS REES, large family.
JOHN ROSS, single.
WILL ROBINSON, wife and baby.
ROBERT GRAHAM, wife and two children.
GEORGE MOSES, leaves an orphan 1-year old child.
JACK GERGUSON, large family.
GEORGE BROOKS, family at Streator, Illinois.
JOSEPH ELLSWORTH, SR., large family.
JOSEPH ELLSWORTH, JR.
JOHN LAFFERTY, single, aged 65, and the owner of considerable property.
DAN McLELLAN, wife and three children.
RICHARD FORSYTHE, family.
GEORGE FORSYTHE, son of above, single.
T. B. COOPER, married.
LISH JACKSON (colored), married.
SCOTT GILES (colored), married.
P. LIVING (colored), married.
ANDREW ERLANDER, wife and four children.
CHARLES PALMER, wife and child.
MITCHELL HALE, single.
MITCHELL RONALD, large family, brother of ex-Superintendent RONALD.
WINSTON STEELE, family
STEELE'S son was working with his father, but came out of the strip and escaped by jumping out. He was knocked down by the force of the explosion.
WILLIAM CAGUE, single, and the only support of his mother and a crippled sister.
EBEN SIFER, large family.
JOHN DANKS (Italian), with family.
JAKE WEATHERBY, late mine boss at No. 3, large family.
The slope in which the explosion occurred runs from No. 2 down to a point where the proposed shafe will be sunk, and is a couple of thousand feet in length.
Several levels have been worked in the slope, and it is conjectured that the explosion occurred at some point on the fourth or fifth level.
For the past two months more or less danger has been connected with work in this part of the slope on account of the unusual generation of gas, and the management is credited with having exercised unusual precautions.
Two air courses were in process of construction in the supposed vicinity of the explosion, with the view of joining, and when the two courses met the explosion occurred.
Persons who were at the opening of the slope pronounced the concussion as terrible, it being sufficient to throw a coal car a considerable distance from the point where it was standing near the entrance.
Great volumes of after damp and smoke rolled from the entrance making the approach dangerous. As soon at it was possible to enter men were set to work, but their progress was impeded by the smoke and damp which the tunnel continued to emit.
At 4 o'clock the first bodies were reached, being those of JOHN BOONE and JOHN CAMPBELL.
After the work progressed more rapidly at 6 o'clock six other bodies were brought out and at 7:20 two others, both terribly burned and mutilated.
Those whose bodies were recovered are TOM BRENNAN, TOM REESE, A. POLLARD, JOHN BOWEN and CAMPBELL and WILLIAM HAGUE.
As progress was made the frightful execution of the explosion became more manifest. Timbers were torn out for hundreds of feet and the whole interior was frightfully wrecked.
It is thought a fire was started in the lower levels and arrangements are being made to turn on water soon as the fact is developed.
Air fans are working to their full capacity and every effort is being made to recover the bodies of the imprisoned men.
All miners in the camp who are able to work have volunteered their services and men are working constantly in shifts.
Owing to the existence of fire in the lower level there is not way of determining how soon the bodies can be recovered.
Several of the bodies that have been taken out are badly mutilated, in one instance the head being severed from the body.
This is the second fatal gas explosion that has occurred in the slope within the past two months.
The first resulted in the death of a negro to whose carelessness the accident was attributed.
Superintendent RONALD, who was in the employ of the company then, said the slope was dangerous to an unusual degree and recommended extraordinary precautions.
It is stated that Acting Superintendent HARRISON has been very careful with the work and cautioned the men to observe that their lamps were in proper shape when entering places posted as dangerous.
Aspen Weekly Times Colorado 1892-05-14