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Bearcreek in Carbon County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

The Smith Mine Disaster

 
 
The Smith Mine Disaster Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 21, 2021
1. The Smith Mine Disaster Marker
Inscription.  The Smith Mine is the site of the worst underground coal mine disaster in Montana history. The decaying buildings across the coulee are a memorial to the 74 men who died in the mine on the morning of February 27, 1943. Smoke pouring from the entrance to the No. 3 vein was the first indication trouble. "There's something wrong down here. I'm getting out," the hoist operator called up. He and two nearby miners were the last men to leave the mine alive.
The families of the men trapped underground anxiously waited as rescue crews from as far away as Butte and Cascade County worked around the clock to clear debris and search for survivors. There were none. Some men died as a result of a violent explosion, but most fell victim to the deadly methane gasses released by the blast. The tragedy sparked investigations at the state and national level that resulted in improvements in mine safety.
Today's marker of the Smith Mine Disaster follows a simpler one left by two miners trapped underground after the explosion, waiting for the poisonous gas they knew would come.
br
"Walter & Johnny. Good-bye/
Wives and daughters
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We died
an easy death. Love from us both. Be good."

 
Erected by Montand Department of Transportation.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Disasters.
 
Location. 45° 9.507′ N, 109° 11.345′ W. Marker is in Bearcreek, Montana, in Carbon County. Marker is on State Highway 308, 0.1 miles west of Scotch Coulee Road, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bearcreek MT 59007, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Smith Mine Historic District (here, next to this marker); Black Gold (here, next to this marker); Bearcreek Bank (approx. 1˝ miles away); Bearcreek (approx. 1˝ miles away); Bear Creek Cemetery (approx. 2.4 miles away); Red Lodge (approx. 3.1 miles away); The Beartooth Plateau (approx. 3.1 miles away); The Red Lodge Country (approx. 3.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bearcreek.
 
Also see . . .  Smith Mine Disaster -- This is Montana, University of Montana. A handful of miners made it far enough to last an hour and half after the explosion. Reports tell of miners who wrote messages to their families with chalk. One message read, “Good bye wifes and daughters. We died an easy
The Smith Mine Disaster Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 21, 2021
2. The Smith Mine Disaster Marker
Smith Mine in the background.
death. Love from us both. Be good.” After the disaster, the mine never reopened.
(Submitted on January 11, 2022, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 
 
Smith Mine image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 21, 2021
3. Smith Mine
Smith Mine image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 21, 2021
4. Smith Mine
Message Write on a Dynamite Box Board by a Dying Miner. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By YouTube screen-shot
5. Message Write on a Dynamite Box Board by a Dying Miner.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 11, 2022. It was originally submitted on January 11, 2022, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 792 times since then and 57 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 11, 2022, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Apr. 13, 2024