Hanna No. 1 Mine Disaster 1908

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 28 Mar 1908
Location: Hanna, Carbon, Wyomingmap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disaster Wyoming Disasters
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Disasters | Mining Disasters | United States Mining Disasters | Wyoming Mine Disasters | Hanna No. 1 Mine Disaster, 1908

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History and Circumstances

  • Date: 28 Mar 1908
  • Location: Hanna No. 1, Wyoming
  • Victims: 59 deaths, # injuries
  • Cause: 2 Explosions (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

Prior to the explosion, on 22 Mar a fire broke out in Mine No. 1 on the 10th level. This fire was extinguished and workers returned to work the next day. However, a few days later on 27 Mar the fire reignited and workers were ordered to remain home on until the fire could be extinguished. To accomplish this a select crew of 18 men headed by Alexander Briggs, superintendent of mining operation entered the mine on 28 Mar.

Briggs sent word around 1:00 that the fire might be controlled by night. However, at 2:59 PM Mine No. 1 exploded trapping the crew of 18. The next day, the Daily Leader reported, "The explosion rocked the town like an earthquake … the titanic blast of burning gas hurled great timbers and hundreds of tons of rock and coal far beyond the mouth of the slope." [1]

Cheyenne Daily Leader, 29 Mar 1908 [2]
Cheyenne Daily Leader, 29 Mar 1908 [3]

State Mine Inspector David Elias took charge of forming a crew and began immediate efforts to rescue the miners trapped in Mine No. 1 after the explosion. As the rescue crew worked they could only locate four of the original firefighting crew bodies. Of these four bodies one was Robert Warburton, who was a survivor of the 1903 explosion. As the crew continued to search for the remaining bodies, another explosion occurred at 10:30 PM killing the rescue party. The other 14 bodies were never located.

Another crew was formed to rescue the miners trapped in the mines. However, they were driven back by intense flames and temporary barrier installed to seal off the mine. On 31 Mar, D. O. Clark, General Manager of the Union Pacific Coal Company arrived in Hanna to oversee the situation. The next day Clark ordered a small hole be punched in the temporary barrier that is being used to block the mine. As the workers approached the barrier they were immediately forced back by a blast of gas and smoke. The mine was sealed until further notice and any hope of finding survivors with it.

Barrier being installed at Mine No 1 Entrance

Governor Bryant Brooks dispatched State Mine Inspector Noah Young from Glenrock to investigate the explosions. Since Young was unable to enter the tunnel, his investigation revealed that, prior to the blast, the mine had not been adequately staffed with fire bosses. He said gas inspections were not complete, particularly the one just before the first explosion occurring on March 28.

Hanna Mine No. 1 West Slope Clean-Up 1908

Young's statement about resuming mining operations at No. One was succinct: "It is a valuable coal body, but I doubt if the company can ever get men to work it … I shall recommend to Gov. Brooks that the mine be condemned." [4]

Damaged Fan House at the East Slope After the Explosion
Tipple and Boiler Plant on the West Slope After Being Partial Clean Up

The Union Pacific Coal Company reopened the entrance to Mine No. 1 on 10 July to resume body recovery efforts. Twenty-eight more bodies were recovered; this explosion left a total of fifty-nine miners dead. Between the two explosions a total of thirty-two bodies were recovered and 27 remained unfound. With the last of the rescue efforts halted Union Pacific Coal Company Mine No. 1 was closed for good and the bodies of those never found where entombed forever.

Results and Findings

After the explosion, Governor Brooks had many communications with David G. Thomas, County and Prosecuting Attorney in these there were many discussions about the miners and widows of the Hanna Union Pacific Coal Company explosions. As part of this Thomas provided Brooks with a poem written about his friend David Elias.

David Elias - State Mine Inspector
David Elias - Poem

The closing of Union Pacific Coal Company Mine No. 1 was inevitable, with the three major explosions over the last five years and a total of four since the initial opening in 1889. Over these years there have been 228 miners who have lost their lives in the explosions. This total ranks the Union Pacific Coal Company Mine No. 1 in the Top 10 in Mine Disasters in United States history.


Genealogy Resources

Museums & Memorials

Hanna, Wyoming Coal Miners' Memorial

After the explosions of 1908 in Union Pacific Coal Company Mine No. 1, and the recovery efforts were halted due to continued dangers for the rescue workers Mine No. 1 was closed for every. With its closing, the mine became the final resting place for twenty-eight miners who were never recovered in the two explosions, one from the 30 Jun 1903 and twenty-seven from the 28 Mar 1908. In 1933, a stone monument by Hugh Renny The Hanna Miners' monument was dedicated and placed above the spot in the mine that mine officials thought the 1908 explosion occurred. [5]
Hanna Miners' Memorial

Names of Entombed Miners

8 March 1908
H. G. Birchall, P.A. Boyd, Alexander Briggs, William Burns, Joseph Burton, George Case, Frank Collins, Alfred Dodds, David M. Elias, John B. Evans , Thomas Flint, B. L. Frink, Robert Herrin, Andrew Hoy, John Ikonen, William Johnson, Mat Joki, James Knox, Gabe Lahte, Harry Lyon, William Pascoe, T. D. Penn, John Rimmer, Emil Silvast, John Tate, Peter Travis, Richard Wilson
United Mine Workers Commemorating the 2nd Anniversary of the
Explosion of 28 Mar 1908

Read More About It

In Memoriam

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

Miner Deaths - 1st Explosion

Miner Deaths
Miners Name Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity Has Narrative Has Sources Has Category Team Member
Boyd, P.A. Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Briggs, Alexander Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Burton, Joseph Age DOB Marriage Status
Dodds, Alfred Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Evans, John B. Age
Flint, Thomas Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Herrin, Robert Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Ikonen, John Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Knox, James Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Lahte, Gabriel Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Lyon, Harry Alty 30 1878
Monson, Pete (Munson, Peter) 28 1880 Marital Status Nativity
Pascoe, William H. 35 Sep 1872
Perry, Ben, Gas Watchman 30 1878 Marital Status Nativity
Raimey, Augustus “Gus”, Rope Runner 30 20 Oct 1877 Marital Status
John Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Silvast, Emil (Silfast, Emil) Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity
Warburton, Robert, Boss Driver 41 Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity

Miner Deaths - 2nd Explosion

Miner Deaths
Miners Name Age Date of Birth Marital Status Nativity Has Narrative Has Sources Has Category Team Member
Armstrong, Robert, Railroad Signalman Unknown
Birchall, Andrew, Miner 25 1883
Birchall, H.G.
Bryne, William (Burns, William)
Burton, Frank G., "F.G." Trackman 37 1871
Case, George 40 27 Aug 1868 Married American Yes Yes Kelly Rishor
Collins, Frank E.
Cookson, John, Driver 22 1886
Corley, A.C., Miner 39 1869
Dodds, Anthony, Boss Driver 44 Jun 1864 Married English
Elias, David M. 50 28 Sep 1857 Married, 5 children American, Rock Springs, WY
Foster, Harry, Miner 27 1881
Frink, B.L.
Harris, Charles "Charley", Pumper 22 1886
Hendrickson, Emil, Driver 25 1883
Halliday, Alfred (Holliday, Alfred), Laborer 55 1853
Hoy, Andrew
Hoy, John M., Miner 33 1875
Hughes, Charles X., Miner 48 8 Jul 1859 2 children
Huhtala, Mat 48 5 Apr 1860
Johnson, William
Joki, Matt
Joki, William, Miner 33 1875
Karrikka (Karikka), Ensti, Miner 26 1882
Lakson, August (Laksonen, August), Miner 21 1887
Larson, James, Shot Firer 46 1862
Lynn, Jonas A. (Lindman, Jonas), Miner 25 1883
Madden, Aaron, Shot Firer 52 1856
McCormick, Sam, Laborer 22 1886
Ollila/Olila, Jalmer, Miner 21 1887
Penn, T.D.
Pura, Abel (Puro, Abel), Miner 30 1878
Riley, Albert, Rope Runner 21 2 Oct 1887 Single American
Salin, Yalmer “Elmer Johnson”, Miner 24 1884
Smeaton, James, Shot Firer 50 1858
Tate, John
Tennant, Alexander Jr. 34 Aug 1873
Peter Travis 44 Jun 1863 Married, 6+ children American No No Janice Downey
Tully, John, Laborer 26 1882
Tyner, James 26 1882
Wilson, Richard


  1. Wyoming's Darkest Days. Andy Ruskanen, 25 May 2003. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
  4. Wyoming's Darkest Days. Andy Ruskanen, 25 May 2003. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
  5. Miners Killed in Hanna. Body Not Removed From The Mine The Miner Memorial. Hanna Basin Museum, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

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