Hanna No. 1 Mine Disaster 1903

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Location: Hanna, Carbon, Wyoming, United Statesmap
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Disasters | Mining Disasters | United States Mining Disasters | Wyoming, Mining Disasters | Hanna No. 1 Mine Disaster, 1903

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History and Circumstances

  • Date: 30 Jun 1903
  • Location: Hanna No. 1, Wyoming
  • Victims: 169 deaths, # injuries
  • Cause: Explosion & Fire (Coal Mine)

Mine History

Hanna, Wyoming is located West of Cheyenne, just off Interstate 80. The town was established in 1889, when the Union Pacific Railroad needed a reliable fuel source to run its massive coal-fired engines. After the coal mines in Carbon, Wyoming ran out, it hastily formed the Union Pacific Coal and opened a mine at Chimney Springs.
Chimney Springs was renamed Hanna in honor of Marcus A. Hanna, a member of Union Pacific Company management and an Ohio United States Senator. Hanna, Wyoming was founded and built by the Union Pacific Coal Company for its workers and their families. The Union Pacific Coal Company owned everything in each of the towns, there was a total of three towns. Within the towns, it included the boarding house, the general store and the miners' houses that were rented to them by the month. Hanna was a major hub of the emerging transportation industry of the day with the Union Pacific Railroad and the Overland Trail passing through.
Throughout the early years, the Union Pacific Coal Company mines located in Hanna experienced many accidents ending in fatalities. However, only mine No. 1 of the mines owned by the Union Pacific Coal Company experienced three separate accidents caused by explosions. These accidents left many families without fathers, sons, brothers, and uncles. Many of the deaths received compensation depending upon whether they had families.
Hanna Town Site and Mine's No. 1 and No. 2 during Winter of 1889
Early Development of Mine's No. 1 and No. 2

Mine Disaster Circumstances

Laramie Boomerang, 1 July 1903 [1]
On 30 Jun 1903, at approximately 10:30 a few hours into the morning shift a massive explosion ripped through mine No. 1. This was the first major accident at the Union Pacific Coal Company mines located in Hanna, Wyoming. At the time of the explosion, it was reported that 169 miners were in the mine working. Immediately after the explosion people from the surrounding mining towns frantically gathered and attempted to reopen the slope leading into mine No. 1.
At 11:30, the Wyoming State Inspector of Coal Mines A.E. Bradbury arrived in Hanna to investigate the explosion. Inspector Bradbury had been informed of the explosion by Edward Brooks, Superintendent of mine No. 1. When Bradbury arrived at the site of mine No. 1 he entered the mine with Superintendent Black, and Special Mine Deputy Thomas Snedden. They observed the entrance of the mine’s main slope and manway filled with rock, timber and dirt from five to fifteen feet in thickness and one hundred fifty feet long.
After observing the situation, Bradbury, Black and Snedden met with Brooks to discuss and plan a course of action. Brooks arranged for three eight-hour shifts of men to work night and day removing debris from the slope. Each shift contained 75 to 100 men. Mine General Manager, Clark began planning for receiving the recovered bodies. He ordered caskets and suits each of the casualties. The bodies were to be washed and dressed before placed in the caskets.
As the workers were clearing debris on day two they began finding bodies. The first bodies found were badly burned and had suffered broken bones. Throughout the clearing of debris, the workers were careful to ensure no further accidents occurred, brattice were erected to remove the gas and each entry was examined. As they continued to find bodies the workers made sure to inspect the area carefully prior to retrieving the remains, on several occasions just as they cleared the area timbers gave way and large chunks of coal came crashing down.
The recovery effort continued for another 172 days when the remaining bodies that were found and brought out of the mine. All the dead miners were now accounted for except John Cox Sr., the fire boss who examined the mine June 30, 1903. He was still missing.

Results and Findings

On 21 Mar 1904, Wyoming State Mine Inspector A.E. Bradbury returned to Hanna for a final inspection of mine No. 1. He along with William Ray, assistant superintendent did a complete inspection the mine to include review the books. No gas was detected and the books indicated that no gases had been detected for the last two months.
In the 1904, State Mine Inspector's Report for the 1903 Explosion of Union Pacific Coal Company's Number One Mine in Hanna, Carbon, Wyoming dated 1 July 1904 provided to Governor Fenimore Chatterton. Bradbury stated the following:
“I am conscientious when I say that in my best judgment the explosion started in the 16th entry in the vicinity of rooms No. 1, to No. 11. No. 11 room was least disturbed, but showed signs of fire passing through it. These rooms were repeatedly examined for three consecutive days, hoping to discover some signs that would give an opportunity to be accurate in a decision. I found no particular spot in any one of these rooms that I could feel positive in anything that I had found the identical place. The rooms gave evidence of quite a quantity of dust, which certainly gives great assistance for fire and flame. In the 16th entry the force of the explosion was violent all through this entry, as the timbers and brattice was blown in every direction. The concussion was so great in nearly all of the rooms that the very solid materials were torn from their foundations, causing great caves from one end of the entry to the other. Pit cars were blown into splinters, the force of the explosion from this point went down the hill moving everything that was loose with it. Some considerable part of the force crossed the main slope at the mouth of the 16th entry and passed through the 17th rock haul to the north part of the mine, also passing into the pump room and stable a little lower down on the slope.
I am of the opinion that it originated in the 16th entry between the points above stated, but I have not been able to discover any place or spot that I could truthfully say at what particular point the explosion originated, or the exact course which brought it about. The explosion might have occurred from an accumulation of a small quantity of gas being ignited by an open lamp. It also might have occurred from some miner who was filling his cartridge and ignited his powder by his open lamp. It is also quite probable that the explosion occurred from a series of rapid shot firing from the solid and the several concussions created a fog of dust and this being followed up by a blown out shot coming in contact with dust would create an explosion. The gas or powder which I have mentioned would have the same effect with the dust, yet the actual cause is a mystery and probably will remain so.” [2]
On 4 May 1904, 308 days after the explosion that killed 169 workers the Union Pacific Coal Company officially reopened mine No. 1 for operations.
Recovery efforts on Day 1 of the 1903 explosion of Union Pacific Coal Company Mine No. 1
The Fatality List for the 1903 Hanna Explosion included 97 Finnish miners, 25 Black miners and 48 English speaking miners for a total of 169 men killed. Of the 47 English speaking miners they included 21 British/Scottish/Welsh miners, 1 German miner, 12 Italian miners, 4 Irish miners, 1 Belgian miner, and 8 Swedish miners.[3]

In Memoriam

See the category for a list of the men that died, or were injured, in the coal mine fire and explosion.

Men That Died

Note: There are still several duplicate names below. If you find a duplicate/other spelling, please move them to the same spot, thanks!
Miner Deaths
Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
Mike Arthurs aka Arthur6
Juho Ashblund aka John Asplund4
Desha Austin3
William Austin3
Samuel Aysto (Äystö)4
Richard Bain3
John Battle6
John Bettue
John Blumstrom
John Boney6
Ed Brown3
Castanzo Ciarallo aka Ciarallas7
Axel Cittila4
John Clarkson1
Robert Clarkson1
John H. Cox Jr. aka Cos1
John H. Cox Sr.1
John R. Cox (There may be another John Cox, no middle initial)1
D. Christ Dandry aka Decreshentis7
Thomas Davis1
Uriah Davis1
Passo DeCesare aka Pascuolo Dicasaro aka P. DiCesare7
Jim Delmonico aka Jiusto Delmonico7
James Denny aka James Patton3
Giovanno "John" DiBartilomeo aka Delbarto aka Eelarto aka Elearto7
Robert Evans aka Robert Branch3
G. Henry Glaat aka Glatt
Mat Hako4
William Hall3
Alfred Hapgood1
Yrjo Hanhimaki (Hanhimäki)4
Alrik Hatala4
James Hayes1
A Heiskamen (Heiskanen)4
C. H. or G. H. Heiskamen (Heiskanen)4
Erik Heiskamen (Heiskanen)4
Alu Heitala (Hietala)4
John H. Hill aka John Sannamaki (Saunamäki)4
Alfred "Alf" Holm
John Honka aka Honks aka Hons, Hunks aka Hokka4
George Hooper3
John Hopnack
Peter Howley aka Peter Hawley6
Samuel "Sam" Hudspeth aka Hudspetts3
John Alahuhta aka John Huhta4
Matti Hukanluoma4
Otto Hullanda aka Otto Jullanda aka Otto Kankaannpaa (Kankaanpää)4
Olaf "Ole" Jacobson8
Oscar Jacobson8
Sakri "Sak" Jacobson aka Jocobson aka Payhonen (Pöyhönen)4
Mat Jarvala aka Jarvals4
Dave B. Jones Sr. aka Dave D. Jones Sr.1
Dave D. Jones Jr.1
John A. “Deacon” Jones aka Johnes1
Sam Judspeth
Joe Julio7
Samuel Kaeria aka Kaerie
Sakri Kakko4
Y Kamkimo
Herman Kaskelo4
Alexander "Alex" Keimo aka Kiemo
Henry Kenkamper aka Henrik Kankaannpaa aka Koskamper (Kankaanpää)4
Aksel Kerttula aka Kertilla4
Charles Kertilla4
Alex Klemettila4
S. John Klaseen aka S. H. Klassen8
Andrew I. Koski aka Andry Korkiakaski (Korkiakoski)4
Mike Kukkola4
Oscar Kukkola aka Kukola4
Sac Lakko
Nic Larmen aka Laamanen4
John Lassila aka Lassali4
Henrik "Harry" Laskela aka Leskela aka Leakela (Leskelä)4
Gustaf "Gus" Linden aka Lilnden
John Linberg
Mat Lindberg Jr aka
Mat Lindberg Sr
Henry Lindi
Andrew Longi
August Longi
Erik aka Erick Longi aka Longu
Matt Longi
Matt A. Longi
Ed Love3
John Lundberg
Mat Lundberg Sr.
Mat Lundberg Jr.
Andrew aka Andre Luoma4
Dan Luoma4
Erik Luoma4
M. M. Louma aka Luoma aka Louna4
August Maki aka August Saarineva4
Gabe Maki aka Kaappo Korkiamaki4
Isaac S. Maki aka Isak Hietamki (Hietamäki)4
Alfred "Alf" Makynen aka Maki4
Gust Malberg4
John Malberg4
Matti Malberg4
Thomas Manty aka Tuomas Lanty4
Phillip Marzon aka Felepo Mazzana7
Nickolas Massaro7
James Massey1
Andrew Maston aka Andry Myllyniemi4
August Matson aka Andrus Kaanta
Axel Matson8
Elmer Matson aka Hjalmar Raasio4
John B. Matson8
Archie McDonald Jr.3
Jesse McDonald3
Felix McKenna1
George McKenna1
Charles Mertala4
John Mertilla4
Martin Mickelson8
Samuel Mickelson8
Ben Miller3
Mark Miller3
A. E. Newsome3
Jake Nikkila4
Files Nickelson aka Teofilus Koski4
Abe Nieme aka Abraham Niemela4
Matti Niemi4
Jacob Niemisto4
Charles Niemo4
Alec Nikkola4
Mike Nikkola4
Matti Nissila4
John Norkonen4
Robert Nunley3
Simon Ojala4
Henry Ojua4
John Passi4
Charles Pelto aka Charles Peltokangas4
John Pelto aka John Peltokangas4
Ejidio Petracco7
Salmun Poutta aka Solomon Pohto4
William Pulkenen4
John Raite1
Henry Reese1
John Rapakko aka John Roebuck4
William Rassia aka John William Rassio4
Herman Renko aka Herman Rinko4
John Runnala aka John Ruonala4
Karl Ruuska aka Charles Ruuska4
John Rysberg4
John A. Saari aka Juho Siuru4
Lauri A. Saari4
William Sakrison
Rudolph Salo4
Henry Sanders3
Theodore Schill5
Joseph Sheffield1
James Smith1
William L. Smith13
Nikolai Sorvista (Sorvisto)4
Mike Sporro aka Mike Sparo7
Charles Summeril aka Charles Somers
John H. Swanson8
John Takia aka John Tapio4
Henry Talkanen aka Heikki Talkanan4
Nicholas Thies2
James Thomas3
Andrew Tikka4
Clay Tinsley3
Robert Tinsley Sr.3
John Tomperi aka John Tomper4
Mat Tukola aka Matti Tuhkala4
Simon Tukola aka Simon Tuhkala4
Nels Wahtola aka Nikolai Wahtola4
Jac Wasti aka Jaakko Vasti4
James Watson Jr.1
Thomas Weathers3
Gus Westerland
James While Sr.1
James While Jr.1
Jobe While1
Fred Wilkins3
Andrew Williams aka Antti Wilho Kanaanpaa (Kankaanpää)
W. O. Williams3
William Williams3
Henry Wilmunen aka Henry Wilmumen4
Sakru Wilmunen aka Sac Wilmumen4
Alfonzo Zillo7

This is the break down on the reported race of the miners
1 British/Scottish/Welsh: 21
2 Belgian: 1
3 Black: 25
4 Finnish: 98 (The unmarked names are most likely Finnish)
5 German: 1
6 Irish: 4
7 Italian: 11
8 Swedish: 8


  • FindAGrave list of cemeteries within Carbon County, Wyoming.
  • Land Patent search: an index to federal patents and homesteads


  1. Thunder under house onen family and hanna mine disasters
  2. 1904 State Mine Inspector's Report for the 1903 Explosion of Union Pacific Coal Company's Number One Mine in Hanna, Carbon, Wyoming. Hanna Basin Museum, 1 June 1904. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
  3. Anderson, Nancy. "Mine Fatality Records for the 1903 Explosion of Union Pacific Coal Company's Hanna Mine Number One." Hanna Basin Museum, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. 1903 Fatality list

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