When many Americans think of mining in the U.S., the silver and gold rush of out west come to mind. It is true that much of America’s mining took place in the west, but Michigan experienced its own mining boom too. According to MLive, Michigan’s worst mining disaster took place in 1926. An explosion reportedly caused mud, quicksand and water to flood the underground tunnels that went down to 1,060 feet below.
Only one man survived by climbing 800 feet in less than 15 minutes. He warned other men before climbing the ladder, but all the others got swept away. When he climbed out, he collapsed from exhaustion and suffered leg cramps. The 51 men who died left behind 132 children and 42 wives. Only 10 of the bodies were ever recovered. The mine has since been sealed.
To many, mining disasters may seem like an old occurrence long left behind in history. However, CNN reports that even in 2010, 29 miners died in West Virginia due to an explosion. Just three years prior to this, six miners became trapped in Utah. After three rescue workers died and six others became injured, rescuers called off the search as too dangerous.
In several of the most recent mining deaths, owners of the mines faced wrongful death lawsuit claims. In some instances, managers faced fines and criminal charges for violating health and safety standards in the mines. This provided a sense of closure for the families of the workers who died. However, these reparations can never bring back the ones they love.
Mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Thankfully, it has been some time since the country last saw a catastrophic mining event.