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Who is Accountable?

(San Francisco Chronicle)

All the mine disasters that have heretofore occurred in the western states cannot be compared with that which happened on Tuesday through an explosion at the Pleasant Valley Company's collieries at Scofield, Utah. It is represented that from 300 to 400 miners lost their lives in it. The cause of the explosion is not known, as the living who were brought out were not near the scene when it occurred. The mine is claimed to have been well ventilated and it had the reputation of being free from gas. Similar conditions were supposed to exist in other collieries where fatal explosions took place, which were traceable to an overconfidence in these fancied conditions of security. As a matter of fact, no colliery is absolutely safe from explosion. Even though the seams of coal worked be free from gas or fire damp, the atmosphere of the mine becomes in time thoroughly impregnated with fine coal dust, which is as combustible as gunpowder. In many colliery disasters the main damage follows the gas explosion through the ignition of the dust in the air of the mine.

If the Pleasant Valley colliery was really free from fire damp it may be revealed later that the explosion was due to the firing of the coal dust through the indiscreet handling of lights or the reckless use of powder. Miners grow careless, almost to recklessness in their operations if they become impressed with the belief that the ground is safe and comparatively free from the greater perils incident to the business of mining. But there was another danger menacing the miners employed in the Pleasant Valley colliery which might have been avoided. Mine Number Four is said to have been used as a powder magazine, and the levels of that mine communicated with others on the vein. One survivor intimates that the explosion was in the direction of the magazine. This fact seems to imply that it was the powder stored in the underground magazine which exploded and that the coal dust in the air of the drifts was ignited by it. Clearly, then, the disaster comes under the head of those which could with ordinary care and rational regulations have been prevented. If so, someone in authority is criminally responsible for the catastrophe and should be held accountable for it.

The Utah Disaster
(Butte Miner.)

To those who are accustomed to the ordinary risks, or the absence of extraordinary risks that attended the usual occupations the terrible disaster in the Scofield mine in Utah will serve as a reminder of the daily and hourly danger surrounding the men who delve in the bowels of the earth for mineral wealth that nature has stored there. Over 400 lives ended in a flash that is the story. It is a loss nearly equaling that of the one great battle of the Spanish American war; one that has scarcely been excelled in the battles of the South African war now raging.

It is such disasters as this that appall hundreds of men in a maze of workings, hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth, cut off from all possible hope of rescue or escape, feeling death stealing upon them with the absolute certainty that it is but a question of minutes when the)' must yield up their lives it is a thought that staggers, even in a place like Butte, where the yearly record of mine fatalities is a large one.

Affairs of this kind, involving such enormous mortality, are more liable to occur in mines like that at Scofield than in those which serve to make up Butte's greatness. For it is in coal mines where the deadly fire damp and the almost equally dangerous black damp are to be found. In the mines where the more precious minerals are found these elements of danger are missing. There are always risks, to be sure, but these are minimized by the exercise of precaution in the way of proper timbering, air shafts, and other things the law calls for.

Strung out over the course of the year the fatalities in the mines of Butte are numerous enough. But the conditions fortunately, are such that no approach to the horrible affair that took place in Utah is within the range of probabilities.

It Is Pitiful
(Salina Press.)

A prosperous mining camp has been turned into a place of woe and desolation. Pale-faced and hollow-eyed women walk the streets in silent grief or rend the air with pitiful cries, bewailing the loss of a husband, son or brother, and consoling words but serve to intensify their awful grief. Children sob and look at the cold, dead face of father or brother, whose blackened lips cannot respond to the endearing words of the household pet. It is pitiful. We, here in this thrice blessed valley, cannot realize the depth and horror of this awful disaster but a hundred miles distant. No pen can portray the appalling scenes enacted there. Even angels would turn aside to weep.

Scofield is full of desolate homes. Hundreds of children are fatherless and bereaved wives there are by the scores. Soon gaunt poverty will walk the streets, for few of these dead miners were men of means. Women and children must not be permitted to suffer. Undoubtedly aid will be solicited. And we believe the broad minded people of Utah will give ear to the cry of distress.

Company's Burden Heavy.
(Provo Enquirer.)

After the grief of the afflicted Scofield families is somewhat assuaged, their desires will be for a most complete investigation of the disaster that the blame of the whole affair may be placed where it properly belongs. In this they will be joined by the rest of the citizens of the State. And if it shall be found that the P. V. Coal company has not used due precaution to prevent the terrible catastrophe, something will at least have to be paid for the support of the many widows and orphans that have been made through the many deaths in their mines. On the other hand, if it be one of those calamities that will overtake men in the coal mines, even though every precaution is taken to guard against them, then the harsh criticism of the company should cease, for its burden is heavy and losses already great.

Time for Deeds of Mercy
(Ogden Standard.)

The Scofield disaster can be placed with the greatest disasters known to mining. Under such circumstances the souls of men should be stirred to deepest compassion and a spirit of charity should take hold of our purse strings that the dollars, which will be dropped into the lap of distress in Scofield, may in a measure provide the women and little children against heartaches and worriments that want and poverty can add to their present sufferings.

Those who have should give freely and we believe that those who do give will bring to themselves the sweet consciousness of a duty performed that will carry with it the prayers of thankfulness of the widows and orphans of Winter Quarters.

Thousand Children Fatherless
(Logan Nation.)

The explosion at Scofield is too horrible for the mind of man to grasp. Two hundred human beings were hurled into eternity in a moment. Two hundred cold and mangled bodies were brought to the surface, where a vast crowd of wailing women and children met their lifeless loved ones. Dark despair holds sway in hundreds of homes. A thousand children are left fatherless.

The heart grows faint and the mind recoils from a contemplation of the scene. It is more Americans than were killed in the Spanish American war. May the God of the fatherless comfort the hearts of those who mourn, and let every hand in the State join to provide for their needs.

Destitution and Grief
(Logan Journal.)

It is a fearful calamity which has overtaken the little town of Scofield; and not only that town, but many others in the State. Probably 150 families were in one fell moment robbed of their protectors and providers. The coal miner and his family usually live from hand to mouth, and destitution will be added to grief unless the people of Utah come to their relief, as we hope and believe they will. When the list reaches Cache valley we trust that the response will be as general and liberal as the cause is deserving.

Whole State Mourns.
(Lehi Banner.)

The calamity of the explosion at Pleasant Valley coal mine is one which causes the whole people of the state to sorrow in their very hearts for those 300 who have suffered so cruel a death, and for relations and friends who have so suddenly been robbed of their fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands. The explosion is the worst known in the west.

In The Grim Valley

Anaconda Standard: "Pleasant Valley" seems rather to be a grim valley of the shadow of death.

Appalls The Heart

Helena Independent: The Mining horror strikes home to Montana hearts. Thousands of our worthy citizens are exposed to similar dangers by reason of their occupation. Those who go down to the depth to toil are continually in the presence of calamity which appalls the heart.



Source: History of the Scofield Mine Disaster, by J. W. Dilley, The Skelton Pub. Co., Provo, Utah, 1900.

Editors Note: The I.. O. O. F. were very active in raising money for the benefit of the widows and children along with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This information is included for historical value, it does not mean the people of this project support these institutions.


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