Bodie, CA Mine Gunpowder Explosion, July 1879



San Francisco, July 11. -- The magazine which exploded at the Bodie Mine contained about five tons of giant gunpowder. The cause of the explosion is unknown. The hoisting works of the old shaft of the Standard were demolished and set on fire, the flames extending to the shaft, but were soon extinguished. The new shaft and hoisting works and mill are uninjured and running as usual. There is plenty of ore on band to keep the mill going until the works of the old shaft are repaired. The house of the new shaft is somewhat damaged, but not so much as to interfere with business.
The building of the Summit Mine is completely demolished, and those of McClinton, Bodie, and Dudley slightly damaged. Many boarding houses, restaurants, and other buildings were more or less shattered. To the list of those previously reported as killed may be added the following:
CHARLES MALLOY, miner, who entered the magazine just before the explosion.
HUGH H. McMILLAN, engineer.
WILLIAM HEDGES, engineer of the Summit, arm broken and head badly injured, but resting easy.
MRS. McKINNEY and child severely injured; was thought they could not live through the night, but both will probably recover.
HUGH McMILLAN (second) seriously injured internally, leg broken and otherwise injured.
RICHARD PALMER hurt in arm, badly injured.
JACK DEMPSEY cut about the head and internally injured.
H. H. HORNSAST, shoulder fractured.
DAN McDONALD lost one eye and received other injuries.
ALEXANDER McGREGOR, badly bruised.
J. C. SHREVES, terribly cut about the head and face.
TOM MURPHY, arm fractured, eyes out and otherwise injured.
JOHN HICKEY, brother of the foreman, badly hurt.
JAMES HICKEY, foreman Standard mine, said to be badly injured in foot and body.
_____ PYLE, badly hurt in the Standard boarding house.
MRS. SNEAD, slightly injured.
MRS. SHAY, severely injured.
The scene at the Miners' Union Hall, which is used as a temporary hospital, is of the most heartrending character. The building is crowded with killed and wounded, and with hundreds of people, anxiously seeking friends and relatives. The mine managers, surgeons, and volunteer nurses are unremitting in their efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the victims.
A coroner's jury has been impaneled and an inquest will be held as soon as possible.

National Republican District of Columbia 1879-07-12


1879 Bode Mine Disaster/Explosion

My great grandparents were living in Bode at the time of the 1879 explosion of the "old" Standard mine. My great-grandfather, John Byrne Sheridan, was a newpaper man and worked at the Bodie Free Press newspaper. My great-grandmother kept a journal of these times in which she wrote, in explicit detail, about the late afternoon/early eveing explosion of the mine. In this she explains the the horror and casue of the explosion. Below is an exerpt out of her journal, which I hold as one of my valued possessions. Although this is private to us, it has been copyrited for our protection. But I feel that it is important to provide more detailed information to the existing.

"It was early in the evening, just beginning to be dusk, and suddenly there was a loud report from up the mountain, and I saw a ball of fire, like a crimson moon, rise up into the air. We all knew what it meant, of course, it frightened us terribly. Immediately the town prepared to go to the rescue. They passed the hotel in droves, with axes, with shovels and spades; with stretchers and ropes; with anything and everything that might help those poor miners up the mountain. Then, before it seemed even possible that they could have had time to climb to the mine, they were returning through the dark little street with their mangled burdens. The town was small. The dead and wounded many. The tiny temporary hospital was soon filled, also the funeral parlor. They overflowed into the emply rooms of the hotel. -------------------------- Next morning the fires were still burining, though slowly dying down to embers. The miner's cabins were all in ruins, and the mine entrance was caved in, and the powder magazine entirely gone. ------------- as we afterward learned, the watchman in the powder house, who wanted a smoke, which was forbidden, sat down on a keg of powder and struck a match to light his pipe." © 1931 © 1994 © 2003-2011