We spent most of our 4th of July up near Scofield. It was rainy and cold. I had the heater on in the truck to stay warm. On the 4th of July! Anyway, we went into the town of Scofield. What an odd little place, a hobgoblin of unorganized parking areas where RV’s and trucks randomly park to camp. Most of the town feels like an old ghost town, and Jeff commented that it surely must have been an old mining town at one point. We saw the cemetery up on the hill so we headed up there to overlook the town while we ate our lunch. Doesn’t everyone go to the cemetery to eat lunch? ;)
When we drove through the front gate, the entire left side of the cemetery had similar looking headstones. At closer glance, they all sported a name and the following information: Killed May 1, 1900 in Scofield Mine Disaster, Winter Quarters # 4 (or #1).
We had never heard of this before. It seems that this coal mine disaster was the largest of its time. The explosion ripped through the Winter Quarters Number Four mine located west of Scofield. Men working in the mine were killed outright by the explosion, which occurred when an excessive amount of coal dust ignited inside the mine. Other miners, working in the Number One mine which was connected to the Number Four mine, died from the deadly carbon monoxide gas or “afterdamp.” Hearing the explosion, but not knowing where it occurred, the men in the Number One mine tried to exit by the shortest route–through the Number Four mine–and consequently encountered the deadly gas on their way out.
It killed approximately 246 (some of the bodies were never recovered). 149 of those are buried in this small Scofield cemetery. The disaster left 107 widows and 270 fatherless children.
I just read that signs of the explosion can still be seen several miles outside of town at the opening of the #4 mine. Anyone want to go exploring with me?
To learn more, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scofield_Mine_disaster