Owner and submitter:
Mrs. Angharad Bowen-Holmes
Mrs. Bowen-Holes, you can read the article about this terrible
1888 August 21
There is a rumor that the coal mines on the north side are to be
opened up at once, to be worked in connection with the White Ash
Mines on the south side. The working of the latter are now under
the old mine at the depth of 750 feet.
HORRIBLE DISASTER: Ten Men Drown in the White Ash Coal Mine.
The most serious accident in the history of Golden occurred last Monday afternoon, about 4 o'clock in the White Ash coal mine, situated at the west end of Second street and not over a quarter of a mile from the Golden post office. Ten men were at work in the mine on the lower level 730 feet from the surface, when a flood of water broke in on them without a moment of warning and they were all drowned. A list of those killed is as follows:
David Lloyd, cage man, single aged 30 years. William Collins, aged 45 years, leaves a wife and child. John Collins (his brother) widower, leaves five children, his wife died nine years ago. Richard Roe, a nephew of the Collins' boys, single, aged 22 years. Joseph Allen, aged 47 years, leaves a wife and daughter. Joseph Hutter, aged 44, leaves a wife and five children. Henry Haussman, aged 40 years, leaves a wife and five children who all reside in Denver. William Bowden, aged 37 years, leaves a wife and three children. Jack Morgan, 21 years, single. John Murphey, 45 years, single. Although Richard Roe was single he had a mother dependent on him for support.
The trouble arose from the water in the old Loveland mine, on the north side of the creek, which was abandoned about ten years ago. It is about 1,959 feet from the White Ash beside the track of the Colorado Central road on the north side of town. The Loveland was filled with water, which broke through the wall 90 feet thick between it and the White Ash, and came rushing along the old tunnel of the White Ash to the shaft, and flowed into the mine 440 feet below the surface.
The calamity was discovered by engineer Charles Hoagland, who tried to send the cage down, but couldn't get it to the bottom. This was about a quarter to four. He gave all the signals to the cage man, David Lloyd, but could not get an answer. He then knew that something was wrong. Evan Jones, the foreman, climbed down the ladder 280 feet in the shaft. He heard a great roaring, and knew that the mine was flooded. He came back and reported to the general manger, Mr. Paul Lanious.
On examination, Mr. Jones found that the water had gone out of the Loveland mine. He fathered all the men he could and made any number of efforts to go down into the mine, but couldn't keep the light lit. Between nine and ten o'clock he put down electric lights and attached heavy ropes to the grab winze. Foreman Jones then went down about 300 feet, but the bad air and sulphur working out of the old workings forced him to come back. The general manager sent to the Ralston Springs coal mine and got a heavy wire rope, put it on the ground and attached it to the engine.
At 7:30 the next morning Mine Inspector McNeil and Foreman Jones went down on a heavy iron bucket, made an examination and found that nothing could be done to save the men. They covered over the top of the shaft and stopped the draft between the two mines. The dead men are supposed to be 200 feet under the water. They were in a tunnel 730 feet from the surface. The tunnel ran in about 900 feet under the creek.
When Engineer Hoagland found that the cage would not go to the bottom, he immediately tried to raise it but it stuck, and repeated efforts were made with the full power of the engines but it could not be hoisted up again. During the entire night air was pumped into the mine in the hopes that something might occur by which there would be a ray of hope for the lives of the men.
Probably a thousand people visited the place during the night, among which were relatives of those who had met such a terrible fate. Many were crazed with grief and almost prostrated while others were only nerved on to do all in their power for the relief of those below. It was however, soon determined that nothing could be done, as they all drowned.
State inspector of Coal Mines, John McNeil, was in the city again Thursday, and it was the privilege of our reporter to get from him some very clear statements of the cause of the accident and the circumstances connected therewith. Mr. McNeil says that when he first visited this mine about six years ago, he inquired into the matter of the water in the old Loveland mine. From all the evidence he could get, he came to the conclusion that there was at least 70 to 100 feet of wall between the 250 foot entry in the Loveland mine, and the 280 foot level in the White Ash mine, when the workings in these levels were abandoned some eight years ago. It had also been represented to him that the vein pinched up near this wall between these levels, and he came to the conclusion a fault in the vein occurred there. Fire was raging in the 280 foot White Ash level and he ordered it walled up and closed to smother the fire out. Mr. McNeil was satisfied the Fire, which was caused by combustion of the slacked coal, had by this walling up process, been checked and practically smothered out. This conclusion he came to because he has frequently examined these entries walled, and found the black damp so bad in them the fire could not continue. It was evident however, that fire had helped eat out this wall between these two levels. After these many years of testing, thus causing the water to burst through the 280 foot level of the White Ash mine, down the vein and through the cross cut to the shaft in the 440 foot level. In order to do this it came with sufficient force to carry all before it.
The question which seemed perplexing to Mr. McNeil, was to know how the fire had reached that wall of 90 feet between the levels of the two mines. He had thoroughly inspected the property and came to but one conclusion. He now believe that the fire came from the dump on top of the ground, and worked its way down through seams and crevices along the vein to this place referred to. It could not have spread upwards from below for the black damp was sufficient evidence against that theory. But on the top, this dump was on fire, and it must have come from that.
The inspector said that he had thought of every other calamity as possible but the one that happened to these miners. Every other defect in regard to the property, the manager was seeking to remedy as fast as money and labor could do it, but the idea of being drowned never occurred to them. It was therefore in this manner the state inspector permitted ten men to labor one shift each in the mine, as all considered it was being put in good shape. He considered the whole matter one of those unfortunate calamities no one could foretell or warn others against.
There has been much desire on the part of all manifested toward recovering the bodies if possible, but this does not now seem possible. Mr. McNeil has made some calculations in the matter. There are now in the mine three million cubic feet of water, and it is filling in at the rate of eighty-five thousand gallons of water a day. It would require a very good pump to keep out the increase of water daily, to say nothing about reducing the quantity already there. The shaft of the mine is not a large one, and consequently would not admit putting down a very large pump to pump the water out. Taking into consideration the debris that such as could be put in this shaft, it would take under the most favorable circumstances at least three months to recover the bodies. If anything occurred to delay, it would require so much longer. Then there is a question whether the water, already heated by the fire in the mine, taken together with the mineral substance in the water would not destroy all that remains of the deceased by the time they were recovered. So the case stands. Several of the families are left without means of support for the future, and are in needy circumstances.
White Ash Mine Disaster of August 21, 1888
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