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.
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
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS/ILLUSTRATIONS
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
Provos 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 .
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