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Mine Disasters in
the United States


Albuquerque Cerrillos Coal Company
Morgan Jones Mine Explosion

Madrid, New Mexico
December 7, 1932
No. Killed - 14



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Successful Rescue

Following the first impact of the explosion, some ten men near the outer edge of the area made a dash for the main passageway.  Three of these, including Jimmie Taylor, 19, son of H. L. Taylor, assistant superintendent of the company's Madrid mines, were overcome.  They were picked up and carried out safely by their comrades.  Andrew Sampria, rushing out, picked up a prostrate form and carried it with him.  When he had reached the area of clean air, he learned that it was his own son, Pete, he had rescued.


14 Bodies Taken from Mine
Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico
December 8, 1932

Madrid, N.M., Dec. 7. -- The bodies of 13 men killed in an explosion in the Morgan Jones mine about 8 o'clock Wednesday morning, were brought to the surface at 6 o'clock Wednesday evening.  The fourteenth victim had been removed soon after the explosion.  All of the 53 men in the mine had been accounted for.  Six men were injured, none seriously.

Several hundred persons were grouped around the entrance of the mine when the bodies were brought out by the rescue crews.  Camp fires were burning on the hillsides to furnish warmth to the watchers, presenting a grim picture.

As the stretcher bears each with his miner's lantern on his cap, loaded the bodies heavily covered with blankets onto waiting open trucks, watchers waiting on the hillsides followed the procession about a mile into Madrid.

The bodies were taken to the hospital of the Albuquerque and Cerrillos Company, where again several hundred persons, including many of the wives, children and relatives of the dead miners, were waiting.

A few hours after the first report of the explosion, a check-up revealed that 14 men were missing and their names were determined by others who were in the mine at the time of the explosion, but who escaped alive.

But until the bodies were removed, relatives had not entirely given up hope.  They did not rush to the trucks on which the bodies were placed, but stoically they followed the funeral cortege of the five rough trucks to the company hospital, converted into a morgue for the occasion.

The dead:
  • Bony Gabaldon, 37
  • Augustine Padilla, 38
  • Angel Ortiz, 34
  • Guadalupe Morales, 23
  • Pablo Escarino, 32
  • Julien Ynostraza, 34
  • Manuel Cabera, 24
  • Telesfor Macias, 30
  • Damacio Perez, 44
  • Julien Garcia, 45
  • Juan Acosta, 40
  • Francisco Torejo, 25
  • Batzar Oaxaca, 40
  • Euseblo Ramos, 21
At the hospital the bodies were laid out in rows and each miner's identification tag placed upon him.  Then widows and children ranging from youths attending high school in Cerrillos or Santa Fe to little tots who had been kept in the Madrid grade school all day as teachers tried to soften news of the tragedy, received the final fateful news as some relative turned back the dirty blanket and verified the identification tag placed upon it.

Six men were brought in from the mine in the forenoon suffering from shock and suffocation from the smoke and dust.  They were treated at the hospital by Dr. A. R. Causer and returned to their home.

These men were:
  • Jimmy Taylor
  • Rosalio Liscano
  • Guadalupe Saldivar
  • Rafael Juarez
  • Andrew Samiripa
  • Pete Samiripa, his son
The cause of the explosion has not been determined by Warren Bracewell, state mine inspector, who rushed to the mine from Albuquerque, entered it shortly before noon and assisted Superintendent Oscar Huber in the rescue work.

The explosion came before some of the miners reached their positions.  The dead were found, many with their lunch pails in their hands.  Others had not yet even taken off their coats to begin work.

Little debris fell as the result of the explosion and although three of the bodies were burned slightly, none was mangled.  As the usual flame of a coal mine explosion swept down the passageways of the first and second dips of the fourth right entry, nearly three miles from the mine entrance, all of the oxygen in the area was consumed, and the men suffocated.

Bracewell said that some of the men apparently fell to the ground after having run a short distance in the direction of the main passage way.  Others fell where they stood caught either by "mine damp" or poisonous carbon monoxide gas.  See definition.

The force of the air wave that precedes the flame and gas of such explosions, jarred loose the safety devices such as rock dust barriers and heavy cloth curtains.  These prevented the spread of the explosion and poisonous gas to other parts of the mine and probably saved the lives of the other miners at work.

At the time of the explosion the men were working in the fourth right gallery, nearly three miles inside the mine.  Gabaldon, Padilla and Ortiz were at the north end of the galley, Morales at the hoist at the mouth of Number Two dip and the ten men were in Number Two dip.

A few hundred feet further down the gallery in Number One dip, another crew of men was at work.  They escaped without injury other than shock.

The ten men so long missing were working under Juan Acosta, one of the ten, who had sub-leased the Number Two dip from the company.

Following the first impact of the explosion, some ten men near the outer edge of the area made a dash for the main passageway.  Three of these, including Jimmie Taylor, 19, son of H. L. Taylor, assistant superintendent of the company's Madrid mines, were overcome.  They were picked up and carried out safely by their comrades.

Andrew Sampria, rushing out, picked up a prostrate form and carried it with him.  When he had reached the area of clean air, he learned that it was his own son Pete he had rescued.

The oxygen helmeted rescuers, rushing back into the danger area, first stumbled upon the body of Guadalupe Morales.  He had made a dash for safety but fell just short of the rock dust barrier and his goal.  His body was the only one to be removed from the mine in the forenoon.

The rescue work proceeded slowly.  There were six oxygen helmets in the mine and men equipped with these rushed into the area where the explosion occurred to see if some comrades were still alive.  They located most of the bodies before noon, and four were removed to the clear air of the main passageway but all were dead.

The ventilating system in this area was little damaged by the explosion, and easily restored, members of the rescue parties said.  It was not until the area had been ventilated and flushed out, that the bodies were removed from the main passageway.  They were hauled on cars to a spot and then the slow procession of stretcher bearers to the waiting trucks began.

Definition:  The "damp" referred to in this article is "white damp," which is a toxic mixture of Carbon Monoxide (CO) in air.  For more on mine gases, visit here.



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