Rocky Mountain News

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Rocky Mountain News

Denver, Wednesday, January 13, 1897, page 1


Torn to Pieces by an Explosion in the Adit Tunnel at Ward.

Powder Was on a Handcar the Miners Were Pushing.

Flesh of the Unfortunate Men Scattered Over Fifty Feet of Timbering.

Presumed That the Explosion That Shook the Earth was Caused by Jarring Powder.

Nearly All the Mines of the District Will Close Down Until After the Funeral.


Special to The News.

WARD, Colo., Jan. 12.--Four men were blown to pieces this afternoon in the tunnel being driven by the Adit Mining company by the accidental discharge of thirty-five pounds of giant powder. They were:





The first two named were drillmen and contractors and the latter two helpers.

The Fatal Explosion.

Between 2 and 3 o'clock, when the men had finished drilling a round of holes with the machine drills, they loaded the machines on a flat car and brought them outside the tunnel. Into an ore car they loaded a box containing thirty-five pounds of giant powder, enough for the charge. The distance from the mouth to the breast of the tunnel in 910 feet. All four of the men were pushing on the car, when it entered the tunnel. It was barely five minutes after they had started in when Manager Daniels, Tom Hemler, the blacksmith, and his son, who were in the blacksmith shop, were startled by a terrific report. They at once ran to the mouth of the tunnel and proceeded in, but before they had advanced many steps they were compelled to retreat on account of the smoke. It was three-quarters of an hour before the atmosphere in the tunnel was clear enough for them to make an investigation.

Scene of the Disaster.

When they arrived at a point about fifty feet from the breast the first in-dication of a disaster was manifest. Here the timbers were blown down, and among them were pieces of the ore car and bunches of human flesh. As they proceeded the horrible fate of the late fellow workermen was made plain.

Amid the pile of rock and timbers were the remains in a mass unrecognizable and impossible to join together.

Manager Daniels immediately notified the coroner at Boulder and then Secretary Merrill, in Denver. The coroner answered back, instructing the manager to gather up the fragments and that he would come up immediately.

How It Occurred.

The only conclusion as to the cause of the affair is that when the men reached the breast of the tunnel with the powder one of their number, while lifting the box from the car, must have let it slip from his grasp, and thus the explosion occurred. The reason for this conclusion lies in the fact that not one of the holes had as yet been charged.

The Adit Mining company is running the tunnel on the Dewdrop vein. The two Glover boys had been doing this work by contract, and had been so engaged since September, 1895. They were both young men, and both were married about a year ago, one leaving a wife and child. Of the helpers nothing is known here, as yet.

Contract Had All but Expired.

In two days more the Glover boys were to have severed their connection with the property as on Friday a new contract for 2,000 feet was to be started by another contractor. In the three years that the company has had charge of the tunnel this is the first accident that has befallen them.

The disaster caused a feeling of sadness to pervade the entire camp, and out of sympathy and regret for the living and the dead, the Dewdrop, Gold Chief and California mines, all in the immediate vicinity, ceased work for the afternoon, and will remain closed until after the funeral of the victims

Secretary Merrill said last evening that everything will be done for the dead and the living that possibly can be done to lighten the burden, especially of the latter. -- Transcribed & contributed by: Leona L. Gustafson


This page was updated on August 19, 2011

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