Colorado coal mine dangers

Hastings, CO mine camp

Mine camp at Hastings, CO

Last month I briefly touched on the movement of emigrants from Trentino to the Colorado mines.  A large number of the emigrants found work in the coal mines of southeastern Colorado (e.g. Las Animas and Huerfano Counties). The mines and working conditions were extremely dangerous, with accidents a common occurance.  In addition, the living areas were within sight of the mine facilities, with the resulting respiratory diseases from breathing coal dust on a daily basis for not only the miners, but also their families.  The Denver Public Library has provided an online database  of pre-1963 mine fatalities which can be searched by name.  Due to the many mines surrounding the city of Trinidad, CO,  many of the casualties are buried at Catholic Cemetery in Trinidad, CO, including three of my grand-uncles:

Frank Job (Francesco Iob) emigrated to the US from the village of Cunevo in the early 1890’s.  He was killed in a mine accident in 1906.  The photo below (reduced in size) was taken at his graveside burial.  It is somewhat graphic.  This photo was obtained from a relative in Cunevo who found it in the village archives, and also shows my grandparents.  I wonder what other photos and documents can be found in village archives or in the hands of family.

Burial of Frank Job

Burial of Frank Job – 1906

The newspaper descriptions during that era were also quite graphic, as can be seen in the below transacription of an article from the Trinidad Advertiser of November 4, 1906 —

PROMINENT MINE BOSS KILLED IN EXPLOSION

“Frank Job, one of the best known mine bosses in the Southern tier of the state, was mangled and killed in a terrific explosion in the Victor Fuel Company’s mine at Hastings late Friday night.

In some way, the shot of dynamite that was exploded was heavier than usual. Before the blast was fired all the miners sought a place of safety. Job was fifty feet away — a sufficiently safe distance to be out of the danger zone. When the dynamite exploded there was a loud detonation and chunks of coal were thrown in the air. Suddenly, from the powder point a huge block of coal was thrown straight at Job. Although nearly twenty yards away, so great was the force of the explosion that the rock was hurled against him with sufficient power to crush his ribs in and he fell dead in his tracks, crushed to pieces.

The smoke and dust prevented the others from seeing what had happened. Job had fallen without a sound. As the air became clarified they were startled to see him lying prone on his back. A closer inspection showed that the rock had caved in his whole breast in the region of the heart, as though it had been but mere cardboard.

Job is married and leaves two small children. He was 38 years of age and for many years ran a grocery store at Segundo. He was exceptionally well liked and his frightful death is deplored by the whole mining community.

The Trinidad Furniture Company of this city was notified and sent their undertaker, George Haugen, to Hastings. The body was last night prepared for burial. The funeral cortege will leave Hastings for Trinidad at 9 o’clock this morning. Services will be held in this city at 2:30 o’clock today at the Catholic Church and internment will be in the cemetery. To show the great regard that Job was held in may be shown by the fact that every available carriage in the city has been engaged for the funeral. The funeral in length will be one of the largest held in this section in years.”

Leonardo Banaletti

Leonardo Banaletti

Leonardo Jacob Banaletti, who emigrated from Bronzollo, arrived in 1891. After spending time in Ohio, he travelled to Colorado where he found work in the coal mines. He was killed under a fall of coal at the Herzon mine (south of Walsenburg) on 14 Sep 1905. According to the newspapers, a dozen men worked for 24 hours trying to get him out, but were too late. Giuseppe Jacob Banaletti (brother of Leonardo), was killed in a mine accident at Primero two years earlier, on 12 Feb 1903.

Related posts: Our ancestors at the Colorado mines

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3 Responses to Colorado coal mine dangers

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting. I would like to be able to print this. Is it near Fishers Peak? I have an antique from Fishers Peak.

  2. Pingback: Colorado city directories | trentinoheritage

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