The Castle Gate Mine Explosion

Utah Historical Quarterly - Fall 1980 / Volume 48 / number 4

One Long Day That Went on Forever

by Saline Hardee Fraser
Compiled by Marianne Fraser

Castle Gate, Utah, March 8, 1924. A cold, clear Saturday morning. At 7:30 a.m., 172 coal miners entered the main corridor of Castle Gate Mine no. 2, a mine ranked as one of the best equipped and safest in the nation, the "show mine of Utah." It was only the third eight hour shift to work that month as the lowered demand for coal had resulted in a serious decrease in working hours. The times, indeed, were hard for the miners and their families. The men working the full shift were considered lucky; almost all of them had a wife and children to support.

At 8:30 a.m. an explosion ripped through the mine. It was of such force that telephone and light poles, timber, and pipes near the tramway were blown across the valley, a valley almost a fourth of a mile in width. Coal dust was showered over the valley, covering trees, rocks and the ground on the mountain opposite the mine entrance. The dust also embedded itself in the tombstones of the small cemetery near the mine. Poles were splintered into kindling; boulders and pipes were scattered on the valley floor. One minute later, a second explosion blew out the wall of the fan house. Twenty minutes later, a third explosion devastated the main entrance and caved in the main entryway. The force of the third explosion wrecked the main office building 100 feet from the entrance and knocked the miners' metal checks off the rack. The company's only way of knowing which men were in the mine lay in shambles.

Five man rescue teams worked day and night. On Sunday, March 9, at 1 a.m., the first body was brought out. By March 10, 26 bodies had been removed, many mutilated and dismembered beyond recognition. The force of the explosions was such that the coal along the walls had been coked by the first explosion and glazed over by the second, a process that requires a minumum temperature of 662 degrees F. The coal camp's hope of survivors was smothered by the silence of death. By March 18, 172 bodies had been removed from the mine.

The rest of this story can be found in the Fall 1980 /volume 48 / number 4 - Utah Historical Quarterly.

Rescuers of the Castle Gate Mine Explosion

Sun Advocate - 14 March 1924

...Carbon County has cause to feel proud of the spirit exhibited by these workers, who forced their way into the gases and brought the dead out to where they could be reached by the stretcher crews. The personel of the crews is given as:

Clear Creek - H.H. Norgard, F. rady, George Allred, O. Peterson, George Cook, Dick Evans.

Mohrland No. 1 - J. Bohnet, H.A. Reese, G. W. Barker, H.E. Draper, Henry Depreese.

Hiawatha No. 1 - W. Burt, L. Ungerman, C. Walker, -- Hanson, J. Ramage, -- Wilkinson.

Hiawatha No. 2 - Orson Rowley, Tom Charter, P.M. O'Hollem, M. Leamaster, James Nielson.

Hiawatha No. 3 - Milton Butte, L. O. Shervick, F. Fitzgerald, C. A. Commons, George Dunham.

Hiawatha No. 4 - William Gilmore, Thomas McMillan, George Morgan, Ed Gordon, Joe Paleski.

Hiawatha No. 5 - G. R. Watkins, F. Anderson, R. W. Cullum, C. E. Clements, W. E. McArthur.

Mutual - Thomas Marker, David Muir, William Hamilton, A. S. Shaw, John Anderson, Elmer Johnson.

Utah Mine - E. Lloyd, Charles Doreous, James Birch, E. D. Smith, Wayne King.

Columbia - D. McLatchie, F. Meyick, E. J. Stiers, F. M. Stevens, Ben Hansen, F. R. McConnell.

Sunnyside - D.L. Parmley, J. S. Hunson, D. S. Crawford, James Wilson, M. Edmunston, J. Westfield.

Rolapp - G. Mayor, Bill Jones, E. A. Chatlin, W. H. Leiter, T. Orvell, Emil Hanson, Bill Lines, John McLaughlin, T. Leger, R. Fairman.

Kenilworth No. 1 - G. B. Jackson, C. L. Leavitt, H. B. Myers, A. J. Butte, W. S. Mansson, J. R. Roaf, William Cox.

Kenilworth No. 2 - E. Lloyd, E. D. Smith, D. Wylde, James Birch, R. W. Cullem.

Standardville - Fred James, Walter Knox, Mell Lewis, Wallis Hight, John Julliano, Ray Westwood, James Rasmusson.

Wattis No. 1 - L. Krebs, - - Pintus, A. P. Demick, W. A. Engel, J. R. Bird

Wattis No. 2 - H. T. Milton, J. C. Bell, C. R. Erickson, - - Fallows, Earl Stevenson.

Winter Quarters No. 1 - Monty Harvey, Henry Wilcox, Samuel Robertson, Allred Newren, Sam England.

Winter Quarters No. 2 - John Stone, Bob Middleton, George Simpson, W. J. Craig, Thomas Biggs.

Castle Gate - James Thorpe, - - Buffmyer, Carl Shoenfelt, William Babcock, Emery Ward.

Storrs - Dave Brown, J. Sullivan, C. H. Hasmyer, - - Phillips, James Readford.

Peerless - L. W. Clark, O. C. Richert, A. W. Effinger, M. E. Butler, A. Barnes.

Scofield - Joe Seaton, B. Newren, W. Bell, A. Marta, George Pearson, M. Rasmussen.

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