united states mine rescue association Mine Disasters in the United States
Muddy Creek Mine Cave-in
November 9, 1939
No. Killed – 5
Woman Watches Cave-in Kill Husband and Others
Reno Evening Gazette, Nevada
November 10, 1939
Rawlins, Wyo., Nov. 10 -- (AP) -- A miner's wife who was standing only twelve feet from her husband when a mine roof collapsed over him and four other men was under treatment today for near hysteria.
Mrs. Viola Stackhouse, thirty-five, had walked 130 feet into the mine and was standing at the edge of a large chamber in which the men were working when the roof of the chamber gave way last night.
Lee Stackhouse, her husband, his three employees, Raymond Potter, Bill Haywood, Wesley Messing and Sammy Valdez, a Rawlins bar employee, were buried beneath tons of coal.
Blinded by the coal dust, Mrs. Stackhouse groped her way to the shaft entrance and drove twenty-nine miles to Rawlins.
"The roof of the mine caved in -- five men are in there," she told Sheriff Glen Penland.
Although near collapse, Mrs. Stackhouse went back to the mine and aided rescuers by telling them the position of the men when the cave-in occurred. When the bodies were reached after about an hour of digging, the sheriff ordered the small attractive woman to go to the home of friends in Rawlins to rest.
About seventy-five men volunteered for the rescue work. Because of the danger of a second cave-in, part of the large chamber was timbered before the bodies were dug out.
Mrs. Stackhouse had driven to the mine with Valdez, who wished to see her husband on business. He and Stackhouse were talking when the roof collapsed.
All the victims, except Messing, who had worked at the mine only two days, were Rawlins men. Stackhouse began operating the two-year-old mine last fall. It is located twenty-nine mines southwest of Rawlins in the extreme south central Wyoming.
Friends here said the Stackhouse’s were married only recently.
State Mine Inspector J. M. Sampson of Rock Springs and Coroner M. E. Pickett of Carbon County are investigating.