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Headline Mine Disaster

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ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, DENVER, COLORADO  AUGUST 30, 1895, VOL XXXVI


FOURTEEN MEN DROWNED IN A MINE

Lower Workings of the Americus and Sleepy Hollow Properties at Central Flooded, With Terrible Loss of Life.

                                                                         

Water Broke in from the Fisk Mine, Preventing Their Escape.

Volunteers Sent Down the Shaft, but Gas and Water Checked Them.

 

Closing Down of the New Gregory Caused the Water to Burst Through.

Scenes About the Mine Pit After the Sounding of the Whistle of Distress.


Special to the News.

CENTRAL CITY, Colo., Aug 29 -- Fourteen men were drowned by the flooding of the mines on the Fisk vein at 3 o'clock  this afternoon.  Two men were lost in the Americus and twelve in the Sleepy Hollow.  Every effort has been made to reach the men in the latter mine but so far without success and there seems to be no doubt but they are lost.

The men are:

The Dead.

In the Americus:

O. PATERNOS.

A. ARANZINI.

In the Sleepy Hollow:

OBERT PROUSE.

NICHOLAS VEGAS.

N. RECONA.

N. NARRIOTA.

B. BROCKENDANK.

JOHN PERKO.

THOMAS WILLIAMS.

THOMAS CARBIS.

JAMES HARRIE.

WILLIAM PRISK.

S. VALLERIO.

A. BROWER.

 

A Flood of Waters.

     It was just a few moments of 3 o'clock when the water in the lower workings of the Fisk mine, east of the main shaft, broke through in a flood, and continuing in an easterly course passed through the old workings of the G. W. Mabee property, which portion of this vein has not been worked for years.  From this point it continued into the Americus mine and drowned the two Italians.  There were eleven men working in this mine.  Those lost were in the lower portion of the shaft.

 

     The water then broke into the Sleepy Hollow working, which is the eastern portion of the Fisk vein and in which twelve men were engaged.  Escape was impossible for the flood came without warning and the men working below were engulfed, unless by some lucky chance they managed to reach a point of safety in one of the slopes far down in the shaft which the rescuers have been unable to reach .  It is not thought, however, that they are alive.

 

     As soon as possible a courier was sent to all the mines in the neighborhood, notifying the superintendents of the accidents and the whistle sounded the signal of disaster.

 

In the Shaft House 

     From all sides a crowd appeared, from the houses, the hillsides and the mines.  It was only a few moments until it seemed as though everybody in the district had flocked to the scene of the accident and the shaft house of the Sleepy Hollow mine was soon crowded.  Miners, men, women and children, the wives, sons and daughters of the men engulfed in the underground workings of the mine.  The crowd in the shaft house was so great that work was impeded for a few moments. 

 

     A call was made for volunteers and nearly every miner answered--all were ready to make the descent and attempt the rescue of their fellow workmen.

 

Too Much Gas 

     Under the direction of Deputy Sheriff W. W. Williams the building was cleared and in a few moments a party of volunteers stepped into the bucket and were lowered.  The descent was found to be impossible, for when the bucket reached a depth of 230 feet, the accumulated gas driven upward by the water and raising, was such as to extinguish the candles.

 

     A second attempt was made.  A large safety lamp was placed in the bottom of the bucket and again it was lowered, crowded with men who offered their services.

 

     When they reached the 300-foot level they found Henry Prisk, one of the fifteen men who were in the mine when the water broke through, and he was brought to the surface in an insensible condition. 

 

    The Water Raising 

     Repeated attempts were made to reach the others, and volunteers were lowered into the shaft, but it was impossible to descend lower than the level where Prisk was found, owing to the raising of the water.

 

     Extra water buckets were sent for, and were set to work with a view to lowering the water, but it was not possible to reach the men below.  The managers of the various properties were on hand and did everything possible, but all efforts on their part were in vain, for to reach the men in the levels now flooded was beyond hope, and it is not thought that any of them can possibly be alive.

 

Heard the Roar

     One of the first men to discover the disaster was Superintendent Curry of the Fisk mine.  He was down in the mine at 3:30 o'clock, when he "heard a strange roaring and gurgling".  He hastened to a point where he could look down in the water in the shaft, and found it all in a commotion, the water boiling and whirling.  He realized at once that there must be a break, and hurrying to the hoist, entered the bucket and was pulled to the surface.  He hurried down the hill to the Americus, which was about 300 yards distant, and across a little gulch, when he met Superintendent Carbis of the Sleepy Hollow, rushing up the hill.  Carbis was greatly excited, and informed Curry that the water was already pouring into the Sleepy Hollow, and his brother was down below with the rest of the men. 

 

A Narrow Escape

     The two men returned to the Americus and as they arrived timberman Pope of that mine arrived on the surface, followed shortly after by eight other men, who had been in the mine, when the water came, but thanks to the presence of mind of the brave timberman they are alive now to tell the tale.  They were at work in one of the lower levels when the water came.  They heard the roar of the coming flood and the crashing timbers and before they could start for the mouth of the shaft the water was upon them. 

 

A Terrible Moment 

     They were under an old stoop and commenced to climb for their lives.  All were familiar with the workings and led by Pope they finally reached an old stull, which blocked them from the shaft.  Pope had his axe with him and at once commenced to cut his way out.  It was a desperate time.  Below them they could still hear the roar of the water and the crashing of timbers as they were floated from their places and they looked at each other in terror as their comrade chapped and hacked as only a man fighting for his life and the lives of his comrades can work.

 

     In an incredibly short time a small opening had been made and one by one the men, crowded through it and climbed to the surface, escaping not a moment too soon, for the flood was at their heels as they left the old stull behind.  The two unfortunate Italians who were drowned were working in the bottom of the shaft and must have been overwhelmed before they could even give the alarm. 

 

Spread the Alarm

     The first to discover the water in the Sleepy Hollow was Engineer James Rule.  He was hoisting a bucket of ore when he noticed that the bucket seemed suddenly not to pull so hard.  In a moment it rose from the mouth of the shaft, dripping with water, and in an instant he realized that the shaft must be nearly full.  He at once gave the alarm and in a few moments the news of the disaster spread over the hill and down to the town of Black Hawk below.  Every effort was made to reach the miners known to be below, but nothing could be heard of them and every attempt was made to reach the upper levels with the bucket in hopes of rescuing some of the doomed men.

 

Henry Prisk's Story

     The rapid rise of the water drove the foul air from all parts of the mine to the shaft, and it was some time before the 300-foot level could be reached.  Finally, some daring miners reached this level and found Henry Prisk lying unconscious near the shaft, having reached this point when he was overcome by the gas.  He was taken to the surface and revived with much difficulty.  He could remember nothing after reaching the level where he was found but his story of his escape was thrilling in the extreme.

 

     Henry Prisk, his son William and Tom Williams were working together in a stope just below the 500-foot level.  They heard the roaring and felt the rush of foul air, and at once started to escape by climbing through the stope to the 500-foot level. Young Prisk was in the lead, with his father closely following, and Williams bringing up the rear.  Faint and dizzy with the foul air that was rushing upon them, they struggled on.

 

Heard His Son Fall

     While crossing an old winze on a timber, young Will suddenly became faint and without a word or a cry he dropped and the agonized father could hear his body splash in the water far below.

 

     On struggled the two remaining men.  A point was reached where it was almost impossible to climb out without help.  Williams helped Prisk over the place and made a leap to get himself out but missed his hold and fell back.  He had injured his back in the fall and was unable to rise.  Mr. Prisk saw him fall, struggle to rise and than fall back, calling that he had hurt his back and for him to go on with swimming, head and dizzy brain Prisk did stagger on, leaving his comrade--to his fate, for he could do nothing.  He reached the shaft and climbed to the 300--foot level when he could go no further and sank unconscious on the bottom of the level with his legs hanging over the shaft.

 

     From Mr. Prisk's description of the place he left Williams, it is thought that if he is not overcome by gas he may perhaps be taken out alive, as he is believed to be above the water and near an air hole, but the chance is exceedingly slim.

 

Water Rose Rapidly

     The water rose rapidly at first, and then slowly.  The first 100 feet of rise in the Sleepy Hollow occupied less than three minutes.  None of the mines had pumps, and as soon as it was found that there was no hope of rescuing any more from the Hollow, all of the three mines commenced hoisting water, pulling it out at the rate of 500 gallons a minute, but even at this rate it will take days to reach the drowned men.  About 10 o'clock it was found that there was an obstruction in the Sleepy Hollow shaft at the 500--foot level, and it is thought that the trap door, which is closed when crossing or hoisting from that level, had been closed by the flood.  It is impossible to send men down because of the foul air.

 

Tried to Make an Air Hole

     At 11:15 men were sent into the Bobtail to see if it were not possible to open up an air hole through the workings and thus rid the shaft of gas.

 

     Just what caused the water to break though is not definitely known, but it is supposed that it was the closeness of the old workings and the great weight of water.  There was 330 feet of water in the Fisk and 400 feet in the Americus.  Both of these mines are above the Sleepy Hollow, and if the break is low, it will weeks before the mines can be emptied.  The water lowered thirty-four feet in twenty minutes in the Fisk and was still going down at a late hour tonight.  Some of the men lost in the Sleepy Hollow are well known and popular and there is much grief over their untimely end.  Young Vallerio was to have been initiated tonight in the Rocky Mountain Lodge of the I. O. O. F.  Many of the other men were married and some had families.  Carbis had a wife and three children, and Prouse and Williams were also married.

 

Nearly All Had Families

     Most of the Italians had families and the scenes around the mouth of the Sleepy Hollow shaft this evening were heartrending.  It finally became necessary, when all hope was abandoned, to force the women to go home and in some instances they had to be carried.  The Sleepy Hollow shaft was 700 feet deep, and eight of the lost men are known to have been in the bottom when the flood came.  The three men working in the upper drift might have escaped but for the foul air.  Tom Williams and an Italian are supposed to be in one of the upper drifts, but are probably overcome by gas, though at midnight a strong attempt was being made to rescue them alive if possible, or if dead, then their bodies.  Up to this hour, however, all attempts to get rid of the foul air have failed.  The whole county is appalled over the terrible disaster, which is the worst mine accident in its history. 

 

Driven Out by Water

     Ever since the closing down of the pumps to the incline shaft of the new Gregory Mining Company, the waters in that shaft have been gradually rising, the owners of the Fisk mine having been driven out of the lower to the upper workings.  This was due to the non-compliance of the owners of the Fisk and Sleepy Hollow to prorate on a question of drainage.

 

     It is said tonight that a movement is on foot to start the steam pumps in the incline shaft, as this is the only recourse to relieve the mines of water.

 

     The rising of the water will materially affect the production of milling and smelting ore for the present month.

 

 


ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, DENVER, COLORADO  AUGUST 30, 1895, VOL XXXVI


UNHAPPY DISPUTES

Controversy Among the Companies About the Pumping

 

     It is estimated that at least $20,000,000 has been taken from three great miners lodes along Gregory Gulch since its discovery by John Gregory in 1859.  Gregory's discovery was the first gold discovery in the quartz formation in Colorado.  Previous to his remarkable find the miners had confined their efforts to the canon and gravelly beds of the streams.  Gregory opened a new world of conquest in mining.  He made a fortune and returned to his own home in Georgia.  The gulch has been worked continuously since and is believed by mining men to be as rich as even it palmist days.  George Pullman laid the foundation of his fortune by successful mining operations in Gregory Gulch and Joseph Chafee, D. H. Moffat and Ebner Smith all grew rich from the same fruitful source.  Of the three great lodes the Gregory is said to have yielded $8,000,000, the Bob Tail, $8,000,000 and the Fisk $2,000,000.  The profits of the Fisk last year, above expenses, were 108,000.

 

     Inquiry among mining men shows that feeling has existed for months between the management of the Gregory Mining Company and the other companies operating on the same vein.  It seem that the Fisk, Americus and Sleepy Hollow companies have depended upon the Gregory to do the pumping for all the mines on the vein.  This the management of the Gregory objected to and twelve months ago the pumps of the Gregory were stopped and the water was allowed to rise in the shaft, filling the levels and permeating the entire hill.  The encroachments of the water stopped operations on the Fisk, but unfortunately for the men who were engulfed yesterday the work was not stopped on the Americus or the Sleepy Hollow.

 

     It is claimed that the managers of the two mines were warned of the danger to which the men were subjected but thought there was no danger and the work went on without cessation.  In the meantime the water continued to rise steadily until it stood 250 feet above the working level of the Sleepy Hollow and 200 feet higher than the workings of the Americus.  The pressure, under such circumstances became tremendous.  A weak spot was reached in the ground and the great flood was turned loose.

 

A Bar of Solid Ground

     From descriptions given by men who are thoroughly familiar with the different workings on the lode, it is evident that a tight "bar" of ground extending downward between the Gregory and the Americus kept the water from running through.  It is said that about three weeks ago the foreman of one of the mines was requested to ask the state mining inspector to visit the mines and pass judgment on the safety of the Americus and Sleepy Hollow, but did not do so.

 

     "It was a game of freeze out," remarked a well known miner last night in speaking of the position of the different companies on the lode for a year past.  The Gregory Company pumped the water until the owners got tired and went into the courts for redress.  The other companies still refused to assist in pumping and the Gregory people stopped work.  J. F. Hopkins, manager of the Sleepy Hollow mine, was frequently warned of the danger to his men and that if the water ever got started not a man in the mine would escape.  He always said he didn't believe there was any danger."

 

     The gentleman stated that Mr. Sam Newell, manager of the Americus, had also considered the question but concluded the mine was perfectly safe.  The Gregory, he said, had pumped the water for than three years, and is the only mine on the lode that is supplied with pumps.  Frank Came, the manager of the Fisk, is also a large stockholder in the Sleepy Hollow, James Gilmore was manager of the Gregory.

 

     It is claimed that the workings in the mountain are 1,000 feet long and are connected with a network of stopes which filled with water during the past year.  The stopes represent the labor of thirty-five years and extend in every direction.

 

     It is estimated that the water will require constant work of sixty to ninety days for its removal. The cost of the work is placed at $10,000.

 

All Together

 

     The Fisk, Gregory, Americus and Sleepy Hollow are all upon the same lode and are ranged in the order named.  The Americus is described as still in the prospect state, though rising to the position of a regular producer.  The Sleepy Hollow was one of the good producers of Gilpin County.  Three deaths occurred in the mine this year previous to the tragedy of yesterday.  Two miners were killed last March by a fall of rock and a third miner met his death in a shaft while attempting to run away from a blast.

 

     Dr. E. F. Lake, grand chief of the Knights of the Golden Eagle, left the lodge room last night to inquire concerning the accident.  The doctor was a resident of Central City until a few weeks ago and was personally acquainted with several of the miners who went down to a sudden death.  He thinks that Williams, Prouse, Harris and Prisk were all members of the order.  Prouse, he says was recently married and the other men were married and leave families.

 

     The Americus mine lies to the north and east of the Fisk mine, and the Sleepy Hollow is at the eastern end, and is a continuation of the Fisk.  The group lies about midway between Central City and Black Hawk.

 

     The Fisk mine was originally owned by Henry Wolcott and Tom Williams, but the property was sold to the owners of the Sleepy Hollow.  A company was formed some three years ago, for the purpose of controlling these properties with the option of the Americus, which is an independent concern.  British capital was interested and the property has paid big returns, the output amounting at times to as high as $20,000 a month.  Water in the Sleepy Hollow proved troublesome, however and some months since it raised to the 600 foot level from where the miners were working about 400 feet below that.  The veins of both the Sleepy Hollow and the Fisk run into the Americus.  As the Fisk has not been worked for some time the theory is that while the men on the Sleepy Hollow were working on the level of that mine, they were far below the old workings of the Fisk and were unmindful of the danger that impended from water breaking through from the unused mine.

     

Three Big Producers

     In 1893 the Fisk was the leading producer in Gilpin County and the total output reached $200,000.  Although consisting of less than 600 lineal feet on the vein the pay was continuous, the mine free from water and the body of crevice matter of the width of three feet.  The average product per month was a little more than $15,000.

 

     During last year, though for a portion of the time flooded in its lower workings, the Fisk was then the heaviest producer in the district.  An average of sixty men were employed and the output placed at $200,000. The shaft had been sunk 150 feet during the forepart of the year but the closing down of the Gregory pumps allowed the Fisk to partially fill with water and little work was done in the upper workings.

 

     A large amount of development work has been done on the Americus.  Last year the company put up a new shaft house, equipped the shaft with a new holster and sunk it 200 feet deeper. The ore taken out and crushed at the Penn mill averaged three ounces in gold to the cord, besides $18 a ton for the concentrates and the smelting grade ran from $60 to $425 a ton.

 

     The Sleepy Hollow, adjoining the Americus on the east, was worked all last year it has been under the direction of C. F. Hopkins of Denver.  New machinery was added and much development work done, including the sinking of the shaft 200 feet deeper.  The grade of ore is much the same as that taken from the Americus.

 

     The Gregory-Bobtail was worked to some extent in its upper levels last year but was all the time much troubled with water.  The Bobtail group comprises thirty-three patented claims and the main working is only 800 feet deep.  Experts claim that if the shaft were sunk to 2,000 feet the Bobtail with its great territory and high grade ore would equal any mine in Colorado.

 

Complaint Filed

     It was reported last night that formal complaint against the condition existing on the Fisk had been filed with State Inspector of Metalifferous Mines Harry A. Lee.  An attempt was made to find him last night to find out what he had to say on the matter but it was found on inquiry at his residence that he was in Ouray and would not be home until to-morrow.  Neither of his assistants could be found. 

 


ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, DENVER, COLORADO  AUGUST 31, 1895, VOL XXXVI


THE MINE HORROR

Cause of the Disaster at Central City Not Definitely Known.

 

Belief that the Fiske Workings Encroached on the Americus.

 

Pumps Will Start This Morning to Clear the Properties of Water.

 

No Way of Telling Where the Bodies Are or When They will Be Removed.

 

Americus People Thought There was 100 Feet of Rock Between Them and the Fiske.

 

Special to the News

CENTRAL CITY, Colo., Aug. 30-- The terrible disaster of yesterday which cost so many men their lives is the only thing talked of.  Business is virtually suspended and gloom pervades the entire district.  Everybody has a theory and all sorts of wild rumors are afloat.  Much of the feeling manifest yesterday against the method of working the mines, has given way and the miners are content to await the result of an official investigation.  The presence of Deputy Inspector of Mines Morrison and the arrival of several of the mine owners has done much to bring about this change.  It is yet too early to determine with any degree of certainty the time it will take to recover the bodies of the unfortunate miners.  Although pumps are working, the water in the flooded mines holds its own.  Numerous volunteers have offered their services for the work of recovering the dead, but no plan of action has been decided upon other than to start the Gregory pumps in the morning.  It is claimed their capacity is sufficient to relieve the shafts of water and allow the bodies to be recovered.

 

Revised List of the Dead

     Following are the names of the dead in the Sleepy Hollow Mine:

THOMAS CARBIS, brother of the mine foeman, timberman, seventh level; wife and three children.

WILLIAM THOMAS, bucket filler, seventh level; wife and one child.

NAZARINO MARIETTA, miner, seventh level; widower, one daughter.

JAMES HARRIS, seventh level, track layer; single.

OBID PROUSE, bucket filler, seventh level; wife.

NICHOLAS VIGUS, seventh level, trammer; wife and family.

BENJAMIN BROCKLEBANK, seventh level, miner, west drift;single.

PERGHER GIOVANNI, seventh level, east drift, miner; single.

THOMAS WILLIAMS, fifth level, trammer; wife and one child.

MARTINO RICONO, fifth level, west stope, miner; wife and family.

STEPHEN VALERO, fifth level, west stope, miner; single.

WILLIAM PRISK, single, 18 years old.

     Following is a list of the dead in the Americus mine:

ACILO AVANSINNI, wife and four children.

LUI POLERNOSTER, wife and two children.

 

Wanted Him to Lay Off

     There is an incident in connection with the death of young Prisk, who fell into the rushing water just as he and his father were nearing a place of safety.  It seems that the boy's mother desired him to lay lay off for the day and attend a picnic, but he declined and went to the mine to his death.

 

Course of the Flood

     Superintendent Hopkins said the water broke in from the Fiske-Bobtail on the west side of the Americus and flowed thence to the 500 level into the Sleepy Hollow mine.  The three mines all being on the same vein.  The Americus shaft is 526 feet and the Sleepy Hollow about 700.  The two mines are connected at the 500 level.  The Fiske on the west of the Americus is 900 feet deep.  The water in the Fiske shaft has risen, owing to the stopping of the Gregory-Bobtail pumps, until it stood 150 feet above the 500 level. 

 

     The Americus and Sleepy Hollow mines were both in good condition, were never troubled with water, and it was supposed that at least 100 feet of cracked ground laid between the Americus and the Fiske workings. 

 

Stopped Drifting

     Superintendent Newell of the Americus mine stated that when the water began to rise in the Gregory-Bobtail and it was known that the incline pumps had been permanently closed down, the Americus stopped the only drift it was driving toward the Fiske workings.  Work on the drift was stopped about March 15 last.  The length of the drift at that time, from the Americus shaft, being 101 feet and 9 inches.  This would leave beyond doubt a partition that could stand any pressure unless some of the mines on the west had encroached upon the Americus grounds.  Whether they did or not the Americus managers have no means of knowing..  Since March 15, according to Superintendent Newell, not a drill had been stuck north of the Americus shaft below the tunnel level by the Americus management and all statements to the contrary are untrue.

 

Will Start The Pumps

     This morning a conference of the owners of the mines was held at the office of the new Gregory-Bobtail company in Black Hawk.  Among those present were Superintendent Hoskins of the Sleepy Hollow Mine, Superintendent Newell of the Americus, Mr. Curry of the Fiske Mine, Deputy Mine Inspector Morrison and James A. Gilmore, who represents the New Gregory.

 

     Mr. Gilmore formally tendered the use of his company's pumps immediately after the accident occurred and today renewed the offer.  No action was taken at the forenoon conference, but at a meeting held tonight the offer was accepted and it was decided to start the big pumps in the morning.  This will be, it is thought, the only means of getting the water out of the two shafts under a month.

 

     The water tonight stands at the 150-foot mark below the mouth of the incline.  The buckets are hoisting water and have been since last night but are making no headway.  In the Americus, Sleepy Hollow and the Fiske they are throwing 9,000 gallons an hour but the depth of the water has not lessened.  Deputy Inspector Morrison expresses the opinion that the water is flowing into the mines at the rate of from 300 to 500 gallons a minute.

 

     At the time of the disaster there were thirteen men in the Americus mine and seventeen in the Sleepy Hollow workings.  Of the fateful number in the Americus all save one escaped, while out of the seventeen in the other mine only five escaped.

 

     One man in the Sleepy Hollow, it is said, swam through the 400 level to the Bobtail tunnel, through which he escaped.

 

Henry Prisk's Story

     Henry Prisk, one of the Sleepy Hollow miners, tells a thrilling story of his escape from the mine, after witnessing the drowning of his son.  He resides at Mountain View and is confined to his bed by injuries to his back.  At the time of the disaster he and his son were at work on the 530 level.  He heard a roaring noise and asked his son what it meant.  The boy replied that it was water from the Fiske Mine.  The noise was terrific and in an instant he realized their peril.  A start was made for the main shaft, but they had to turn back as the water was pouring down it with cataract force. Turning back they ran along the sixth level and made their way up through an old working to the Fiske level.  They were in total darkness, the lights being out, matches wet and clothing drenched.  When the fifth level was reached, Father and son made their way along it in the hope of being able to reach the fourth level, over an embankment of dirt they knew was there, but the water had preceded them and portions of the embankment had been washed away.  Then they fled along a road and poles and stulls.  A hole was crossed safely by the father, but the son fell in and the parent heard the water splash.  This was the last he saw of his son.

 

An Answering Voice

     During their flight the boy and his father shouted at the top of their voices in the hope of attracting the attention of some one in the mine, but it was not until after his son fell to his death that an answering voice was heard.  It was that of Thomas Williams.  He heard Prisk's cries and crawled along the fifth level to the rescue.  Prisk and Williams then made their way to the end of the level, where a pole five or six inches in diameter reached to the fourth level.  With the assistance of Williams he succeeded by means of this pole in reaching the level.  Williams was too weak to follow and Prisk at his request started along the level to search of succor and to send someone to Williams' rescue.  As he moved along the level to the shaft he found water coming in from the south drift.  He made his way through this and finally reached the ladders to the main shaft, when his strength gave out and remained there until taken out by the rescue party.

 

     The men found it impossible to go after Williams as gases had generated in the mine. 

 

Heartbroken Family

     Prisk grieves greatly over the loss of his son and a weeping mother and sister at the bedside of the father form a pathetic picture in the miner's modest home.

 

     The drowned boy would have been 18 years of age in September.  In the morning of the day he met his death he was urged by his mother to attend a picnic, but said, "No, I will work in the mine with my father."

 

     The statement is made by Superintendent Newell that about 100 feet of solid ground lay between the working of the Americus and the Fiske properties.  There is no doubt that from their own surveys under ground the Americus management believed that that was true.  It is evident, however, that the water pressure could not have broken that amount of ground.

 

Belief of the People

     There is a general belief among people here that the old workings in the Fiske may have encroached upon the Americus ground and have also undermined them.  The real facts in the case cannot be ascertained until the water is all out.  If the theory that the Fiske workings encroached upon those of the Americus, as the popular idea is that they did, then there was less solid ground between the Fiske and the Americus than the Americus management had reason to believe there was.

 

No Thought of Danger

     It has been reported that there was a deep feeling of anger among the miners against the management and that those employed in the Sleepy Hollow and the Americus were especially incensed.  In this feeling Mr. Prisk, the only man who was saved in the crew of the Sleepy Hollow, does not share.  Mr. Prisk was seen today by a representative of the News.  He was asked if he had thought beforehand that the mine was dangerous.

 

     "No", replied Mr. Prisk, "I cannot say that I did.  We did not look upon the mine as at all dangerous.  The question of water coming though was thought of and talked about by the men.  The conclusion reached however, was that if the water did not come into the mine, it would soak through gradually and that all would have ample opportunity to escape.  This was the opinion among the miners, and this view was concurred in by Superintendent Newell of the Americus and by Superintendent Hoskins of the Sleepy Hollow."

 

     Arrangements are now under way to provide for clearing the mine of water and the work of rescuing the dead bodies will commence in earnest at the earliest possible moment.  Large pumps of the latest improved patterns will be put at work soon.  These pumps will be set tomorrow.

 

     It is impossible at this time to tell when the bodies can be reached.  All that can be done will be done is the assurance.

 

A Pitiful Sight

     Yesterday a little mud bedraggled fellow of 7 or 8 years, accosted the brakeman thus: "Is my fadder drownded?"

     

     He presented a pitiful little figure as he asked the question. He had on no shoes, stocking or coat.

 

     "I don't know, my boy," replied the brakeman.  "What is your name?"

 

     "Sirgie."

 

     "I don't know, boy.  There are two men down the mine, but I don't know their names."

 

     The boy is of the same nationality, Italian, as the two men imprisoned in the Amercius, and his father is undoubtedly one of them.

 

     About 5:15 o'clock the brakeman of the Americus said that the water has remained at the same height ever since it first came in, which is at the 400 level.  A large Boston exhaust blower has been placed at the mouth of the shaft and is running by steam.

 

     The miners are adding new lengths of pipe steadily and hope in a short time to have the bad air out, though it is not likely that they will find any bodies now until the water is taken out.

 

     Inspector Morrison asked for a good pump man and upon recommendation of Mr. Gilmore he sent this afternoon for Mr. Thomas Belcher, an old pump man, who has had charge of the pumps at the Bobtail tunnel and Incline respectively for the past twenty years.  He is at present living on his ranch about seven miles northeast of this place.

 

     The water in the Sleepy Hollow and Americus mines rose twenty-five to thirty feet from 8 p.m. last night to 5 a. m. this morning.  Five miners then made an attempt to go down the Sleepy Hollow shaft but were obliged to stop at the 200 foot level, the gas was so strong.  They were heard calling for a light and a third man went down the ladder way and gave them light, upon which they gave the signal to hoist.  They were pulled to the top again and said that it was useless to try to go down in that shaft while the gas remained in it.  During the night several miners went down the Americus shaft with the intention of opening a space which was blocked up between that mine and the Sleepy Hollow.  If they had succeeded a current would have been established and the foul air driven out of the Sleepy Hollow, but they were unsuccessful, as the air in the Americus will not permit a candle to burn. 

     

 

 

 

SLEEPY HOLLOW MINE

GIVES UP ITS VICTIMS

Two More Bodies Recovered at Black Hawk.

FOUND IN THE SLEEPY HOLLOW

 

At the 500-Foot Level in the Sleepy Hollow Shaft the Bodies of Two Italian Miners, Who Met Death in the Flood 

 

Disaster on August 29, Were Recovered Yesterday--Condition of the Remains Required an Immediate Funeral, 

Which Occurred in the Afternoon--Pumping Continues, and the Water Is Lowering in the Shaft.

 

Rocky Mountain News, 9/29/1895

Special to The News

    

 CENTRAL CITY, Colo., Sept. 28--Two more miners who met death in the flood disaster occurring on the 29th ultimo, on the line of the Fiske mine, Bobtail, Will, in the city limits of Black Hawk, were recovered at an early hour this morning.  Their names are Martin Ricardio and Stephen Vallero.  The bodies were recovered at the 500-foot station in the main shaft of the Sleepy Hollow Mine.  Both miners prior to the disaster were working in the back of the 500-foot station, engaged in back-stopping.  When the bodies were found they were at the east end of that point.  Ricardio was lying face downward.  Vallero was partly undressed.  Some of the miners claim that from the condition of the body he had attempted to undress himself and commit suicide.  This theory has been disputed since the recovery of the body from the fact that when recovered it was five feet under water and does not prove the theory.

     

Probably Crazed

     Those best acquainted with the dead man think he had become crazed and while in that mood stripped himself.  Vallero received a gash on the right side of his head.  Both bodies were recognizable by their friends, their faces having preserved a recognizable appearance to those intimately acquainted with them. They were taken to the surface and Coroner Pareateau notified, who summoned Undertaker Ed L. Harris who sent to the shaft of Sleepy Hollow two caskets in which they were placed.  The coroner's jury, now in session, viewed the bodies at the mine.  Vallero's remains were afterward taken to the Harris undertaking establishment in this city and the other to Black Hawk, where his family resides.  Vallero's remains were from the undertaking establishment to the residence of relatives on Lawrence Street, this city.

 

An Immediate Funeral

     The bodies being subject to mortification, the funeral occurred this afternoon about 4 o'clock from the church of the Assumption.  Father Raber, pastor of that church, officiating, and escorted to their resting place by delegations from Rocky Mountain Lodge, No. 2, I. O. O. F., fire department and the Columbus and Italian societies, of which they were members. 

 

     The bodies recovered today, make three from the Sleepy Hollow mine.  The two Italians meeting death in the Americus shaft have not yet been recovered, although every possible effort is being made to do so.  The water in the Sleepy Hollow shaft is receding.  It is thought that those remaining in the Sleepy Hollow shaft will be recovered within the next three days.

     

    Water is still being raised in the Fiske Mine to the west of the Americus and Sleepy Hollow, as well as in the Bobtail.  The pump in the incline shaft on the Gregory lode is doing good service in the lowering of the water surrounding the Fisk properties.

 

 

     

 

 

 

    

    

 

 

    

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