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

Bear Creek Cemetery

 
 
Bear Creek Cemetery Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 21, 2021
1. Bear Creek Cemetery Marker
Inscription.  A large red granite monument commemorates the 75 miners who died in the 1943 explosion at the Smith Mine. The United Mine Workers of America installed this memorial in 1947 to memorialize Montana’s worst coal mining disaster. Twenty-two of the Smith Mine’s victims are buried here in family plots. The death date—February 27, 1943—carved onto their grave markers recalls the tragedy. Other headstones express other, individual losses. Of the 473 people buried here, 107 are children, including the first person interred in the cemetery in 1909, six-year-old Helen Markovich. Marble tombstones decorated with carved lambs and other tokens of innocence mark many of the children’s graves. They communicate parents’ great grief, while also suggesting the toll poverty, infant mortality, and childhood diseases historically took on families. Grouped in the cemetery’s southeastern corner are headstones marked with Cyrillic lettering, many displaying photographs, burned into porcelain to produce a permanent image of the deceased. These markers reflect the Eastern European roots of many Bearcreek miners and their families. At the community’s height, in 1920,
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a third of its residents were immigrants while another third were the children of immigrants. Headstones marked with Croatian, Montenegrin, Slavic, Italian, Scottish, German, Finnish, French, and English surnames attest to Bearcreek’s ethnic diversity. After the Smith Mine disaster, Bearcreek became a near ghost town as many residents departed, fleeing bad memories. They left behind this simple rural cemetery, whose sandstone, granite, and marble headstones provide mute testimony to Bearcreek’s coal mining heritage and to the people buried here.
 
Erected by Montana Historical Society.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Cemeteries & Burial Sites. In addition, it is included in the Montana National Register Sign Program series list. A significant historical date for this entry is February 27, 1943.
 
Location. 45° 9.491′ N, 109° 8.356′ W. Marker is near Bearcreek, Montana, in Carbon County. Marker is on State Highway 308, one mile east of South 6th Street, on the left when traveling west. The cemetery is at the end of an unsigned, gravel road south of Montana State Highway 308. 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 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bearcreek (approx. 0.9 miles away); Bearcreek Bank (approx. one mile away); Black Gold
Bear Creek Cemetery image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 21, 2021
2. Bear Creek Cemetery
(approx. 2.4 miles away); Smith Mine Historic District (approx. 2.4 miles away); The Smith Mine Disaster (approx. 2.4 miles away); The Red Lodge Country (approx. 5½ miles away); Red Lodge (approx. 5½ miles away); The Beartooth Plateau (approx. 5½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bearcreek.
 
Smith Mine Disaster Memorial image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 21, 2021
3. Smith Mine Disaster Memorial
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 12, 2022. It was originally submitted on January 12, 2022, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 170 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 12, 2022, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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May. 27, 2024