united states mine rescue association Mine Disasters in the United States
Colorado Fuel and Iron Company Sunshine Coal Mine Explosion
September 3, 1897
No. Killed – 12
Coal Miners at Sunshine Lose Their Lives by an Explosion
New Castle News
September 10, 1897
Glenwood Springs, Colo., Sept. 3 --- A coal dust explosion in one of the chambers of the Sunshine coal mine, the property of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company at Sunshine, some sixteen miles southeast of Glenwood Springs, killed eleven Italians and one American tonight, a few minutes before six o'clock.
The men were preparing to leave the mine on the day shift when the disaster occurred. A shot had been fired and instead of being a direct explosion it was what, in miners' parlance, is called a "blow-out," that is, the powder created a flame which shot backward and caught the dust which had accumulated in the chamber instead of dislodging, the seam of coal intended.
At the time of the explosion there was a barrel of gunpowder in the chamber which ignited and aided the disaster, which would have occurred through the coal dust explosion, anyway.
The men killed were: Antonio Martanone, George Dannon, Louis Dannon, Louis Raki, Joe Martini, Joe Casngrandl, John Jennol, Antoine Epple, Theodore Polozzi, John Andriani, Emil Andriani, Francis McCloud.
The individual responsibility for the act will never be known, as not a single soul came from the fated pit alive.
The mine is the oldest of the Spring Gulch group. Two entries below the one in which the accident occurred have been worked out. These two covered a distance of 600 feet above the level of the creek. The slope which proved the death trap of the twelve men is usually the working place of forty miners.
Yesterday, the main force were employed in entry No. 4, 250 feet above the level where the explosion occurred. The explosion broke away the stoppings from the lower worked-out slopes and the two working slopes were at once filled with the deadly blackdamp. An idea of the force of the explosion can be had when it is seen that the entire timbers, many twenty-two inches in diameter, were twisted and broken as though mere pipe stems.