The Scofield Mine Disaster

The Scofield Mine Disaster

The remains of the Wasatch Store at Winter Quarters in 1981

The same store in 1900.


The Scofield Mine Disaster


The Towns, Railroads and Coal Mines and the Disaster in May of 1900 that Killed 200 Men and Boys


Robert N. Reid


All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2002 Robert N. Reid

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the publisher.

Published by BR Enterprises

For information please contact

Robert N. Reid
831 S. Cedarwood Lane
Cedar City, UT 84720

The information contained in this book has been obtained from sources that are believed reliable. Damages arising from errors, omissions or damages as a result of use or misuse of the information in this book are not the responsiblitity of the Author, Editors or Publishers of this work.

ISBN: 1-58348-XXX-X

Printed in the United States of America







                                                        Pray for the Dead......

                                                                    Fight like Hell for the Living -- Mother Jones




Chapter 1. Seeds of Disaster

Chapter 2. Coal Miners

Chapter 3. Welcome to Scofield, Utah

Chapter 4. Mining in Scofield

Chapter 5. The Townspeople

Chapter 6. Inside during the Explosion and an Eyewitness account

Chapter 7. Rescue work and initial response

Chapter 8. Aid pours in

Chapter 9. Assistance for the Widows and Orphans

Chapter 10. The Mine Reopens

Chapter 11. The Fate of the Little Town

List of the Deceased

About the Author





Wasatch Store in 1981

Railroad pulling up Soldier Summit Grade

The Scofield School Drum Corps

The Town of Scofield

Building the Calico Road

Number 1 Mine Entry before the disaster

Map of Winter Quarters Mines-Engineering Drawing--Mine Report

Trestle, Coal Dump and Incline, to Mine Number Four

The Wasatch or Company Store with coffins

Home of John Pittman and Church Meetinghouse

Winter Quarters and Residence of J. S. Thomas

Home of the Farish Family

Trappers and Drivers Ready to Enter Number One

Number 1 Mine Entry after the disaster

The Bishop, T. J. Parmely in center with Mine Superintendents Cameron and Williams discussing repairs

Boarding house and clothes of dead miners

Wreck of the Fan and Powerhouse at Mine Number Four

Mine Survivors and Rescuers at the Number One

Placing the dead onto the train for trip down to Scofield

Two boys who escaped

The Jones Family

Provo’s Volunteer gravediggers

The Scofield Cemetery

School House, waiting for the dead to be delivered

Floral Car distributing flowers

Waiting for the Train

The Luoma Family


The Author wishes to thank the many people who shared information about Winter Quarters, the Scofield Mine Disaster, early Utah life and early Coal Mining that helped make this book possible. Ms. Earnest Lloyd of Salem, UT who granted permission to excerpt from the Oral History of Gwen and Dave Grant. He would also like to thank Dr. Charles Peterson, professor at Utah State University for a personal interview about early Utah History and his insights about the Railroads. Also, thank you to Dr. Kent Powell and the Utah Historical Society for permission to copy the George Anderson Photos. I would like to thank the people of the Mining and Railroad History Museum of Helper, UT and Fred Voll (now deceased) for help with mine history and mining methods. Last, a special thanks to Mr. Stan Harvey of Clear Creek, UT an early miner who knew many mining methods and was a great help. His Oral History is available through the Helper Mining and Railroad Museum in Helper, UT.




On May First, 1900, a coal dust explosion ripped through Pleasant Valley Coal Company's Number Four Mine at Winter Quarters, a Utah mining town located high in the Wasatch Mountains about 80 miles South East of Salt Lake City. Seventy-three men were killed outright by the blast. Another one hundred and twenty-seven dropped their tools and tried to run out of the mine. As they entered a return airway to escape they ran into poisonous gas and slumped over. In minutes their lips were cherry red and held the childlike smile of the dead from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The telegraph at the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway office in the nearby town of Scofield clicked news to a stunned world of an event that came to be known as the Scofield Mine Disaster.

On the surface an overcast sky and drizzle mirrored tears shed by mothers and children of the men inside. Some stood erect and faithfully prayed that their beloved father, brother or son would be spared, only to break down sobbing moments later as haggard eyed men carried out their loved one's body. Seven men, critically burned and crushed, survived which is a testimony to pioneer ruggedness.

The dead were carried to a church where burned, black clothes were stripped from the bodies. New suits, purchased by the company, were put on the deceased and they were carried to the Scofield Cemetery for burial. There was not enough refrigeration. The dead were quickly buried.

Chapter 1 The Seeds of a Disaster

On an early spring morning, May first, 1900. Judge Joseph Thomas and his son picked up their lunches and headed for work. As they walked, they saw and waved to Bill Boyter a short way across the valley. It was the first day of a new coal contract and J. S. Thomas and son Joe were going to be coal mining. They checked in with the mine boss, William Parmley. "Boys, you'll be working in Number Four," he said. Together they lit their candles, attached them to their caps and went underground………….

The rest of the book is available on CD from
BR Enterprises, 831 S. Cedarwood Lane, Cedar City, UT 84720
Email: [email protected]

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