North Star Mine Disaster 1917

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 25 Feb 1917
Location: Hailey, Blaine County, Idahomap
Surnames/tags: Mining Idaho Mining_Accidents
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Disasters | Mining Disasters | United States Mining Disasters | North Star Mine Disaster

Contact: United States Mining Disasters


History and Circumstances

  • Date: 25 Feb 1917
  • Location: Hailey, Idaho
  • Victims: 16 deaths, 17 injuries
  • Cause: Snowslide

Mine History

Idaho Miners

The North Star Mine was a silver, gold, zinc, and lead mine located in Blaine County, Idaho.[1][2] It was located in what is now the Boise National Forest.[2] The mine had one shaft (1,500 feet in length)[3] and was considered to be a "small operation."[2] According to Lindgren the mine produced $800,000 worth of ore between 1883 and 1894.[3] It was suggested in 1915 that the North Star Mine and the (idle) Triumph mine consolidate.[3] In 1916 the Federal Mining & Smelting company acquired a bond and an option on the North Star Mine.[3] According to the 1915 IMIR, The North Star mines were under consideration by "one of the ablest mining engineers of the country."[3]

Mine Disaster Circumstances

A heavy fall of snow, over a three day period, had left two-and-a-half feet of snow on the ground in the North Star district.[4] In the wee hours of Sunday morning, the Federal Mining and Smelting company had sixty men employed at the mine and another one hundred and fifteen working at the mill two miles below.[4] In a rare set of circumstances, three separate avalanches occurred; each going in a different direction.[4] It was originally thought that twelve men had died in the avalanches.[5] Fifteen men died,[6] seventeen men were injured, and twenty men were able to escape without injury.[4]
With such a calamitous amount of injury and damage the mine was shut down for the rest of the winter.[4]

Rescue Efforts

The bodies of the deceased were temporarily left in the mine.[4][6][7] The focus of the rescuers lay with those that were injured.[4][7] A special train filled with physicians and rescue workers was run from Hailey to Gimlet, where they had to travel the last six miles via sleigh.[4][7] The men that had survived the avalanche with no injury set to work rescuing any living miners that they found.[4][7] By 9 o'clock that morning around one hundred men were engaged in rescue activities.[4][7] Some of the men had been buried under twenty to thirty feet of snow. It was thought that some of the deceased had died from suffocation.[4][7]

Results and Findings

The avalanche destroyed the office, storeroom, changing room, two-story bunkhouse and the compressor room of the Federal Mining & Smelting company.[7] This disaster was seen as the worst in history of Wood River mining.[4][6][7] The circumstances were unavoidable and the mine was not responsible. Several lawsuits were filed at any rate, by family members of those miners.[3] Federal's loss from the tragedy was $96,858.30 and they were sued for $485,000. The suits were settled out of court the following year for $55,000.[3]

In Memoriam

Men That Died

Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
John Fleming
Elton G. Cooley
Jack Vaughn
James Peterline
Phil Welch
John Purnell
Frank P. Mangingo
Roy Judd
Sam LaBarge
John Kistleɫ
John Hearnɫ
Jack McKelveyɫ
Emmett P. Russellɫ
W. R. Motleyɫ
W.S. Schmidtɫ
ɫ The bodies for these men were never recovered. They are believed to be buried somewhere beneath where the slides landed.

Men That Were Injured

Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
Tom Jay
A. E. Wood
George Lee
Jack Lindsey
L. O. Beeson
Bert Judd
E. C. Jones
J. R. Carter
Pete Peterson


  1. JOYCE, E., 1926, A Metallurgical Investigation of Ore From the North Star Mine, Blaine County, Idaho: Moscow, Idaho, Univ. of Idaho M.S. THESIS, 37 P.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Webmaster. "North Star Mine Robie Creek, Idaho" ( accessed 3 February 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Mitchell, Victoria E. "History of the Triumph, Independence, and North Star Mines, Blaine County Idaho" (, accessed 3 February 2020, p. 49.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 United States Mine Rescue Association. "All Mine Disasters in the United States: Idaho" (, accessed 3 February 2020.
  5. Staff, "Snow Slide Entombs Bunk-house, Kills Twelve." The Star and Sentinel (Boise, Idaho), (26 February 1917), p. 1, col. 2.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Staff Correspondence, "Danger of Avalanche Halts Work of Rescue." Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon), (26 February 1917), p. 1, col. 5-6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 History of Alturas and Blaine Counties, Idaho Hailey, Idaho: Hailey Times, 1930, pages 95-96
See Also:
  • Hailey, Idaho on the Western Mining History site for pictures and more information about the town of Hailey.


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