Union Pacific No. 4 Disaster 1886

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 12 Jan 1886
Location: Almy, Uinta, Wyoming, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters Disasters Wyoming
This page has been accessed 431 times.

Disasters | Mining Disasters | United States Mining Disasters | Wyoming, Mining Disasters |Union Pacific No. 4 Disaster, 1886

Contact: United States Mining Disasters


History and Circumstances

  • Date: 12 Jan 1886
  • Location: Almy, Wyoming
  • Victims: 13 deaths,
  • Cause: Explosion (Coal Mine)

Mine History

Almy, Wyoming is located North of Evanston, off Highway 89. In the summer of 1868, mining camps started opening in the surrounding Bear River valley. Dreams of prosperity lured miners from England, Scandinavia, China, and from throughout the United States to settle in "Wyoming Camp", which later became Almy. Named for James T. Almy, a clerk for the Rocky Mountain Coal Company, and located 3 miles north west of Evanston, Almy was strung out along the Bear River for five miles. This particular "string town" owed its existence solely to coal mining. Her 4000 residents suffered more than their share of mining tragedies. Finally, in 1900 the mines were closed by the Union Pacific due to labor troubles and explosions. [1]

Coal Mines at Almy 1871

Mine Disaster Circumstances

On 12 Jan at 11:25 PM, an explosion ripped through Union Pacific Mine No. 4 as two miners descended into the mine with empty cars. The blast was reported to be so massive that it killed all miners working in the mine. There were two individuals near the open of the mine at the time of the explosion, they were also killed when timbers splintered and were thrown from the entrance. There had been previous reports of the mine having gas present at the time of the explosion, they have been unable to confirm the actual cause of the explosion but it is believed to have been caused by a miner’s open light. The fatalities included eleven men and two boys, they were reported as John Cummock, Joseph Evans, William Evans, John Hood, Thomas Horne, William Horsley, John Hunter, Frank Mason, Robert Murdock, John Peck, William Peterson, Ellis Ridgeman, Enoch Thomas. [2]
Omaha World Herald, 19 Jan 1886 [2]

Results and Findings

Ogden Daily Herald Jan 16 1866
The Almy Affair

We are enabled to give a few more particulars of the horrible affair, which occurred at Almy on last Tuesday night.

The bodies of the unfortunate miners were all recovered, the last one having taken out at about 2 o'clock a.m. Friday. There were eleven men and two boys in the mine at the time of the explosion. Not one was taken out alive. The theory is that the explosion was started at the very bottom of the mine; as those who were at work there were burned worse than the others.

The names of the victims are: Frank Mason; Almy; formerly of North Ogden; Enoch Thomas, Almy; Robert Murdock and John Hood, Nova Scotia; Henry Cummock, Almy; late of Scotland; Wm. Horsley, late of England; John Hunter, Riverdale; John Peak, South Weber; Wm. And Joseph Evans, North Ogden; Wm. Peterson, Coolville, Thomas Horne, Canada, and Ellis Gridgman, Coalville. Eleven of the victims were married men, while the other two were boys only thirteen years of age. Only two of the unfortunates, Mason and Thomas, escaped injury by fire. These two were about 1000 feet away from the main slope and when found were laying with their faces on the ground, their heads being nearly half submerged in water that had accumulated in the mine after they had been suffocated by after damp. The Superintendent, Reuben Fowkes, was not as reported, hidden; but worked night and day until the bodies were all taken out.

While endeavors were being made to rescue the entombed minders, three of the rescuing party ventured too far in the hope of finding someone alive and were overcome with then deadly after damp and had to be dragged out of the mine.

Great fears of another explosion were entertained and only twenty men were allowed to go into the mine. This force worked from midnight on Tuesday until about two a.m., Friday when the last of the bodies re recovered. Intense excitement prevailed and all sorts of rumors were started as to the cause of the explosion. As a reporter of the Ogden Herald was endeavoring to learn the particulars of the affair at the depot last night, a gentlemen stepped up to him and asking if he was a reporter, and receiving an affirmative reply, said: A young man came to me at Evanston ad told me that he was shown through the mine Monday afternoon by Supt. Fowkes, who stated that there was not enough gas in the mine to cause an explosion? He stated that the explosion was the result of carelessness by the Superintendent.

The prevailing opinion seems to be that the horrible fatality was caused by carelessness, but no one seems able to tell where the fault lies. A coroner's jury was summoned and began an investigation of the affair. The jury will not conclude its investigations until Monday or Tuesday next, when we will give the result of their findings. The body of John Hunter arrived on the U.P. express last evening and was buried in Ogden Cemetery today. The scene at the station last evening when the body arrived was extremely affecting.

The aged father with his gray head bowed with grief came in on the train. The smothered sobs of friends and relatives of the deceased as the casket containing the remains was lifted tenderly from the car started the tears in many eyes that were dry before. It is thought that the bodies of the other victims who lived in this vicinity will be brought into Ogden tonight. [3]

Reports of the names vary depending upon the newspaper source. However, it is still a tragedy these individuals lost their lives due to this mining accident.

In Memoriam

See the category for a list of the men that died, or were injured, in the [type of disaster].

Men That Died

Miner Deaths
Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
John/Henry Cummock, 54, 12 Aug 1831, Scottish
Joseph Evans, 30, 16 Jan 1855, Wales
William Evans, 28, 16 Apr 1857
John Hood
Thomas Horne, 14, 12 Jun 1871
William Horsley, 49, 8 Dec 1836, English
John Hunter, 34, 17 Feb 1851
Francis "Frank" Mason, 33, 9 Dec 1852, Scottish
Robert Murdock,
John Peck aka Peek, 25, 6 May 1860
William Peterson, 12, 13 Oct 1872
Ellis Ridgeman aka Gridgerman, 15, Dec 1849
Enoch Thomas, 28, 8 Mar 1857, Wales


Genealogy Resources

Further Reading


  1. "SHPO Monuments and Markers." Legend of Almy. Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, n.d. Web. 6 July 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "A Horrible Mine Explosion in the Almy Mine in Wyoming." Omaha World Herald. N.p., 19 Jan. 1886. Web. 23 Apr. 2017. Search for John Cummock
See Also:

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Dean Anderson and Disasters Project WikiTree. (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.)

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