A strike of a match probably led to Colorado’s deadliest disaster. In an instant, the Hastings Mine, outside Trinidad, became a mass grave, leaving 121 men — most of them immigrants from Europe — entombed by an explosion and collapse triggered by a well-respected safety inspector.
Just outside the mine’s entrance, groups of children and weeping women crowded around and waited for news of the men. Those tasked with searching for survivors quickly came to the grim realization that there were none. “I won’t say we found three men,” a rescuer told a reporter, according to historical records, “but we did (find) parts of them.”
It was April 27, 1917, just a few weeks after the U.S. joined World War I. The explosion was the blackest mark among a series of mining disasters that over decades had killed hundreds of men who were working risky jobs to provide for their families. And yet, it’s not been a major narrative in Colorado’s economic history. Continue Reading →