Historical Coal Mining Activity Near Golden, Colorado

Newspaper articles from the Golden Globe provide an account of some of the coal mining activities that occurred between 1880 and 1895:

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White Ash and New Loveland coal mines in the 1890’s. The view is northward from the south side of Clear Creek on west edge of Golden. The White Ash coal mine and its dump are in the foreground. The New Loveland coal mine is on the north side of Clear Creek in the upper left.

1880

January 3

About the middle of June ’77. R.D. Hall and Al. Jones under the firm name of Hall and Jones, began opening out what is known now as the White Ash Coal Mine. It is situated at the west end of Second Street in Golden. These men continued to operate the mine until May 1st, 1879, when W.S. Wells purchased an interest in the enterprise and Mr. Hall retired.

The first year a shaft was sunk 100 feet and the first level on the coal mine opened out. This was worked on until the first of 1879, when the shaft was sunk down 100 feet further and a new level opened out. This is the one which has since been worked. The vein at present is from 9 to 14 feet thick of good clean coal. There is a great abundance so that work on this level can be continued for two years to come. From the main shaft they now have the level opened out 800 feet to the south and 200 feet to the north.

In the spring the mine will be opened up on a still larger scale. Messrs. Jones and Wells propose at that time to run the main shaft 200 feet deeper and open out two more levels, one at 100 feet below the present, and 300 feet below the surface, and one 400 feet below the surface and 200 below the present level worked. As it is a self evident fact that the deeper the coal is taken out the better is the quality, this will enable the men to place upon the market the best coal in the state. Another advantage gained from this new project is that it affords such largely increased facilities for turning out large quantities daily, by having three good levels to work from.

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December 31

The coal mining industry of Golden is one of its greatest and one on which the growth and prosperity and foundation of the place is largely based. Hence the following description of the resources, developments and output of the mines of the vicinity will be interesting.

The Ralston Springs coal mine is one of the most extensive and profitable in the county as well as the state. It was first opened out by Messrs. Nicholls and Hoagland, and lies three miles north of Golden near the R.R. track of the Cheyenne division of the Colorado Central. It is now owned and operated by John Nicholls, one of Jefferson County’s commissioners, and is an enterprise that adds much to the growth of the city. The main shaft of the mine is down 175 feet, from the bottom of which two levels have been run, one extending north and one south, each to the extent of 500 feet. From these levels toping has been carried on and the mine developed and opened out in good shape. From the coal rooms above these levels the coal is blasted out, and the handsome manner in which the property has been opened out in this respect gives them the capacity of raising 100 tons of coal per day. The regular force of the men varies from 75 to 100, and the output of coal from 75 to 80 tons per day. The mine is provided with a good shaft house, coal chutes, engine house, and the propelling machinery of the hoisting apparatus consists of a forty horsepower engine and a sixty horsepower boiler. The coal mined here is of a very superior quality. The estimated production of the mine last year was 22,500 tons of coal.

The White Ash Mine, owned and operated by the Colorado Brick and Coal Co. is one of the most extensive in the state. The main shaft is down 450 feet- the deepest coal shaft in Colorado. From this shaft three levels have been run, one at a depth of 280 feet, another at 360 feet and the third at the bottom of the shaft. The last is just now being opened out and the entries on it have not been run but a short distance. On the first level the entries have been run 1000 feet to the south and 600 feet to the north; on the second level the entries are now opened 400 feet in both directions.

Fifteen teams are kept constantly hauling from the mine, 40 men are employed, and about 100 tons of coal are produced each day. The mine is supplied with two hoisting engines, 60 horsepower each, good engine houses, shaft house and coal chutes, so the work can be carried on successfully.

This company which is under the management of S.D. Peppard, also operates the large brick works near the mine.

Beside the above enumerated coal mines there are the Murphy mine on Ralston Creek, the Lyden Creek coal mine, and one near Morrison all having been worked more or less, during the year, but not regularly. The Welch coal mine which is tributary to Golden raises on an average 370 tons per day the year round. It is just north of the north county line.

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1884

January 26

An accident which ordinarily might have cause great loss of life occurred last Monday at the White Ash Coal mine. Luckily it terminated in nothing more serious than the destruction of considerable property, and causing work to be suspended at the mines for a couple of weeks or more. It seems that as a car of coal was being hoisted from the mine, the weight of which was nearly a ton, the arm attached to the piston rod of the engine, broke at the fastening to the drive wheel and flew back with such force as to cause it to penetrate the cylinder head. The sudden breaking of the engine caused the breaking of the hoisting apparatus which let the car of coal descend the shaft at a terrific speed. The loss to the company for repairs will be about $1000 as the machinery was almost entirely destroyed.

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September 27

Last Thursday one of the most startling accidents occurred in the White Ash coal mine, which has happened in this locality for a long time, which resulted in the fatal injury of one man and the severe bruising of others.

John Boucham, one of the miners, was at work in the fourth level, 450 feet below the surface and thirty feet from the shaft. He was taking a pillar out of the air shaft and laboring in the air course for the purpose of improving it, as the air had become quite bad in the mine. It was about 9 o’clock when he took the pillar out and the accident occurred. Immediately after its removal five tons of rock and coal fell upon him, crushing him down and burying him. Four men worked for 15 minutes before he could be extricated form this situation.

Shortly after this accident, another one took place in the level below that one. Patrick Masters was this time the victim, but fortunately he escaped with minor injuries. He was working 525 feet below the surface and 900 feet from the shaft. His light was poor and he ventured too far in a dangerous direction when suddenly some rock and coal fell on him. Two other miners were also somewhat bruised and cut by the falling rocks.

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1885

March 21

Last Wednesday a couple of miners were quite seriously injured at the White Ash mine. A German known as "Chris" and a man named Tom Richardson were at work at the bottom of the main shaft when a heavy chain fell from the "cage" which was ascending over their heads, striking one man upon the shoulder and mashing the other’s foot. Had the falling chain struck either of them more squarely it would have resulted in instant death.

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1886

November 8

Our people have been considerably alarmed during the last few days at the fact that the White Ash coal mines were on fire. Fire has been smoldering for some time in one of the workings, and on Monday the smoke became so bad that the miners were driven out. Extra exertions were used on Monday and Tuesday night, and the usual amount of coal is being raised again.

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1889

September 9

There is a rumor that the coal mines on the north side are to be opened up at once, to be worked in connection with the White Ash Mines on the south side. The working of the latter are now under the old mine at the depth of 750 feet.

HORRIBLE DISASTER: Ten Men Drown in the White Ash Coal Mine.

The most serious accident in the history of Golden occurred last Monday afternoon, about 4 o’clock in the White Ash coal mine, situated at the west end of Second street and not over a quarter of a mile from the Golden post office. Ten men were at work in the mine on the lower level 730 feet from the surface, when a flood of water broke in on them without a moment of warning and they were all drowned. A list of those killed is as follows: David Lloyd, cage man, single aged 30 years. William Collins, aged 45 years, leaves a wife and child. John Collins (his brother) widower, leaves five children, his wife died nine years ago. Richard Roe, a nephew of the Collins’ boys, single, aged 22 years. Joseph Allen, aged 47 years, leaves a wife and daughter. Joseph Hutter, aged 44, leaves a wife and five children. Henry Haussman, aged 40 years, leaves a wife and five children who all reside in Denver. William Bowden, aged 37 years, leaves a wife and three children. Jack Morgan, 21 years, single. John Murphey, 45 years, single. Although Richard Roe was single he had a mother dependent on him for support.

Memorial to the miners killed in the White Ash Mine Disaster

The trouble arose from the water in the old Loveland mine, on the north side of the creek, which was abandoned about ten years ago. It is about 1,959 feet from the White Ash beside the track of the Colorado Central road on the north side of town. The Loveland was filled with water, which broke through the wall 90 feet thick between it and the White Ash, and came rushing along the old tunnel of the White Ash to the shaft, and flowed into the mine 440 feet below the surface.

The calamity was discovered by engineer Charles Hoagland, who tried to send the cage down, but couldn’t get it to the bottom. This was about a quarter to four. He gave all the signals to the cage man, David Lloyd, but could not get an answer. He then knew that something was wrong. Evan Jones, the foreman, climbed down the ladder 280 feet in the shaft. He heard a great roaring, and knew that the mine was flooded. He came back and reported to the general manger, Mr. Paul Lanious.

On examination, Mr. Jones found that the water had gone out of the Loveland mine. He fathered all the men he could and made any number of efforts to go down into the mine, but couldn’t keep the light lit. Between nine and ten o’clock he put down electric lights and attached heavy ropes to the grab winze. Foreman Jones then went down about 300 feet, but the bad air and sulphur working out of the old workings forced him to come back. The general manager sent to the Ralston Springs coal mine and got a heavy wire rope, put it on the ground and attached it to the engine.

At 7:30 the next morning Mine Inspector McNeil and Foreman Jones went down on a heavy iron bucket, made an examination and found that nothing could be done to save the men. They covered over the top of the shaft and stopped the draft between the two mines. The dead men are supposed to be 200 feet under the water. They were in a tunnel 730 feet from the surface. The tunnel ran in about 900 feet under the creek.

When Engineer Hoagland found that the cage would not go to the bottom, he immediately tried to raise it but it stuck, and repeated efforts were made with the full power of the engines but it could not be hoisted up again. During the entire night air was pumped into the mine in the hopes that something might occur by which there would be a ray of hope for the lives of the men.

Probably a thousand people visited the place during the night, among which were relatives of those who had met such a terrible fate. Many were crazed with grief and almost prostrated while others were only nerved on to do all in their power for the relief of those below. It was however, soon determined that nothing could be done, as they all drowned.

State inspector of Coal Mines, John McNeil, was in the city again Thursday, and it was the privilege of our reporter to get from him some very clear statements of the cause of the accident and the circumstances connected therewith. Mr. McNeil says that when he first visited this mine about six years ago, he inquired into the matter of the water in the old Loveland mine. From all the evidence he could get, he came to the conclusion that there was at least 70 to 100 feet of wall between the 250 foot entry in the Loveland mine, and the 280 foot level in the White Ash mine, when the workings in these levels were abandoned some eight years ago. It had also been represented to him that the vein pinched up near this wall between these levels, and he came to the conclusion a fault in the vein occurred there. Fire was raging in the 280 foot White Ash level and he ordered it walled up and closed to smother the fire out. Mr. McNeil was satisfied the fire, which was caused by combustion of the slacked coal, had by this walling up process, been checked and practically smothered out. This conclusion he came to because he has frequently examined these entries walled, and found the black damp so bad in them the fire could not continue. It was evident however, that fire had helped eat out this wall between these two levels. After these many years of testing, thus causing the water to burst through the 280 foot level of the White Ash mine, down the vein and through the cross cut to the shaft in the 440 foot level. In order to do this it came with sufficient force to carry all before it.

The question which seemed perplexing to Mr. McNeil, was to know how the fire had reached that wall of 90 feet between the levels of the two mines. He had thoroughly inspected the property and came to but one conclusion. He now believe that the fire came from the dump on top of the ground, and worked its way down through seams and crevices along the vein to this place referred to. It could not have spread upwards from below for the black damp was sufficient evidence against that theory. But on the top, this dump was on fire, and it must have come from that.

The inspector said that he had thought of every other calamity as possible but the one that happened to these miners. Every other defect in regard to the property, the manager was seeking to remedy as fast as money and labor could do it, but the idea of being drowned never occurred to them. It was therefore in this manner the state inspector permitted ten men to labor one shift each in the mine, as all considered it was being put in good shape. He considered the whole matter one of those unfortunate calamities no one could foretell or warn others against.

There has been much desire on the part of all manifested toward recovering the bodies if possible, but this does not now seem possible. Mr. McNeil has made some calculations in the matter. There are now in the mine three million cubic feet of water, and it is filling in at the rate of eighty-five thousand gallons of water a day. It would require a very good pump to keep out the increase of water daily, to say nothing about reducing the quantity already there. The shaft of the mine is not a large one, and consequently would not admit putting down a very large pump to pump the water out. Taking into consideration the debris that such as could be put in this shaft, it would take under the most favorable circumstances at least three months to recover the bodies. If anything occurred to delay, it would require so much longer. Then there is a question whether the water, already heated by the fire in the mine, taken together with the mineral substance in the water would not destroy all that remains of the deceased by the time they were recovered. So the case stands. Several of the families are left without means of support for the future, and are in needy circumstances.

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1891

January 3

The White Ash Coal mining Co., have made another big deal that will involve several thousand dollars. They were not satisfied with having a 25 years lease on the White Ash and Loveland properties which gave them a mile an a quarter of coal vein, so they purchased the old Murphy coal mine. Too much credit cannot be given to Mr. Chas. T. Clark as he has been the main instigator in all these big enterprises. Since last April he has opened the White Ash mine and has made it a good producer, and has constantly been increasing the output, and then later formed a company and leased the Loveland property for 25 years, and now has purchased the Murphy mine. This means more business for Golden, and the employment of many more men.

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1892

January 2

The White Ash Coal mining Company during the past year have opened the Loveland shaft and are now working two mines. This company has done a great amount of work the past year and are now in a shape to supply a large demand for coal.

At the beginning of 1891 General Manager Clark had opened the Little shaft and was taking out a limited supply of coal. The company had been formed a short time previous to this, and in the latter part of November 1890, started work on the shaft of the Loveland mine. This work was pushed rapidly and in less than a year was producing coal. The shaft is now 582 feet deep with levels run in, cutting the coal at the depth of 372; second level at 452 and the lowest at 532 feet. These levels are run 126 feet before striking coal. In each level they have struck two veins the first is 5 ½ feet wide, and the second is 9 feet. The coal is of fine quality being harder than any other in northern Colorado. Splendid machinery has been erected and the shaft is a model one. A road has been graded ready for a switch and chutes are ready to load the cars. The output at the Loveland is 50 tons per day, and the Little mine puts out 25 tons per day.

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1895

February 16

The White Ash Mine closed down on Tuesday morning. The tracks and pumps and underground machinery were taken out and work stopped. About 20 men are thrown out of employment. The miners who have been working under lessees, on a sort of co-operative plan, found that they would have to do a great deal of dead work in order to get to further deposits of coal, and they endeavored to get the owners of the mine to pay for sinking to a lover level, but the owners refused to contribute anything. As it is the miners have had scant pay in the past, after paying salaries and royalty. And felt that they could not stand the expenses of development. The White Ash mine is probably closed for good.

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The information provided on this page was obtained from WPA History of Golden, Jefferson County Colorado, Volume Two, Chapter 5, p.455-485, by the Foothills Geneological Society, 1993