On this day in 1886 an explosion in a coal mine in Almy, just north of Evanston, killed 13 miners.
It was not the first, nor would it be the last time miners in the Almy complex died at work. The explosion on Jan. 12, 1886, however, spurred the Wyoming Territorial Legislature to establish the Office of State Mining Inspector, a position that persists to this day .
Tragedy first struck in 1881 when an explosion killed 38 miners in the Central Pacific Mine No. 3. A fire had been burning in the mine, which had opened in 1869, for 5 years. But workers had sealed it off with stone walls, The Cheyenne Weekly Leader reported. The dead, the newspaper said, included “35 Chinamen and 3 white men.”
The 1886 explosion occurred in Almy Mine No. 4 and killed 11 men and 2 boys. Utah papers covered the disaster because of the heavy Mormon population in the area.
The explosion was “so terrific as to blow all of the building’s above-ground into kindling wood, sending great timbers and rocks three-quarters of a mile,” the Deseret Evening News in Salt Lake City reported.
Nine years later, in 1895, a third explosion occurred, the results of which are depicted in the photograph above. It blew up the Red Canyon No. 5 mine, killing 62. It is considered the third-largest mining accident in Wyoming history.
The state shut down the Almy mines in the 1940s because of their danger.
There’s little information readily available about the photograph, although several persons, including bloggers Eric Christensen and Ron Keyes, have referenced the mines and the disasters in documenting their family histories.