Alaska-Mexican Gold Mine Disaster 1910

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 3 Mar 1910
Location: Treadwell, Juneau Borough, Alaskamap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters Alaska Disasters
This page has been accessed 727 times.

Disasters | Mining Disasters | United States Mining Disasters | Alaska-Mexican Gold Mine 1910

Contact: United States Mining Disasters


History and Circumstances

  • Date: March 3, 1910
  • Location: Treadwell, Douglas, Alaska
  • Victims:
  • Cause: Explosion

One survivor has been identified, Elijah Popovich. Mr. Popovich was 24 years old and had emigrated from Montenegro in 1907.

Name Sourced Bio Connected Category

Area History

Douglas Island is a tidal island just west of Juneau and east of Admiralty Island. It is separated from mainland Juneau by the Gastineau Channel. Douglas Island was named for John Douglas, Bishop of Salisbury, by Captain George Vancouver. Joseph Whidbey, master of HMS Discovery during Vancouver's expedition, was the first to sight it in 1794. [1]

Mine History

In 1880, prospectors Joseph 'Joe' Juneau and Richard Harris discovered gold in Silver Bow Basin. This brought waves of prospectors to the region, including John Treadwell, whose first move was to purchase a lode claim on Douglas Island from Pierre Joseph Erussard ("French Pete") on 13 Sept. 1881.
The Glory Hole
On December 27, 1881, Treadwell organized the Alaska Mill & Mining Company and began operations. The Treadwell gold mine was on the south side of Douglas Island, .5-mile (0.80 km) east of downtown Douglas and southeast of downtown Juneau. Composed of four sub-sites, the Treadwell, 700-Foot, Mexican and Ready Bullion. Treadwell was in its time the largest hard rock gold mine in the world, employing over 2,000 people. Between 1881 and 1922, over 3 million troy ounces of gold were extracted. Not much remains today except for a few crumbling buildings and a "glory hole". [2]

Mine Disaster Circumstances The 1910 explosion was the worst disaster in Alaska mining history.

On March 3, 1910, there was a massive explosion on the 1,100-foot level of Mexican mine. The blast was so powerful a miner on the 900-foot level died in the accident. The explosion was due to eight cases of dynamite stored in a magazine. The area was designed that in the case of an explosion, the fumes would go up through the shaft and not suffocate the miners. Unfortunately, the men killed and wounded were directly in the way of the blast. Thirty-nine men and one horse were killed in total. The 1910 explosion was the worst disaster in Alaska mining history.[3]

Rescue Efforts

Results and Findings

No official Investigation Report has been found at this time. There was a brief mention in the Billings Weekly Gazette that the coroner's jury found the Treadwell Mining company blameless. The only survivor, Elijah Popovich, testified that in violation of company policy, two shift bosses went into the magazine just before the explosion. [4]

This disaster occurred 1 year before mining inspection records were kept. As a result of this incident, mining inspection and records were created.

Aftermath The mine was still yielding gold in 1917 when the Treadwell, 700-Foot, and Mexican mines (excavated to a depth of more than 500 feet (150 m) below sea level under Gastineau Channel) suddenly began leaking and were evacuated. Hours later the mines collapsed. At the climax, sprays of water were sent up to 200 feet (61 m) in the air from the mine entrances. The only casualties were a dozen horses and one mule; local lore has it that one man unaccounted for used the opportunity to head for parts unknown.

Evidence of instability had been noticed around 1909, but there was no indication of an impending disaster until 1913 when major geological shifts occurred. Reinforcements were constructed but were ineffective. The last shaft was worked in a limited fashion until 1922. [5]


  4. Company Blameless. The Billings Weekly Gazette (Billings Montana). 01 Apr 1910, Fri. Page 7.
  5. Treadwell Gold Mine

  • Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Disasters Project WikiTree and Lynn Hemrick. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
  • Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.