disaster at pueblo mine claims six

Nearly 20 minutes before the men working at the Pueblo Mine were scheduled to break for lunch tragedy struck. The Pueblo Mine was the most lucrative of all the claims on the Whitehorse Copper Belt, a 30-kilometre tract located to the west of the city.

Nearly 20 minutes before the men working at the Pueblo Mine were scheduled to break for lunch tragedy struck.

The Pueblo Mine was the most lucrative of all the claims on the Whitehorse Copper Belt, a 30-kilometre tract located to the west of the city.

The first claim on the belt was staked by John McIntyre, a prospector on his way to Dawson City for the Klondike Gold Rush, on July 6, 1898.

Later he partnered with William Grainger and the pair operated the first hard rock mine in the Yukon, which they dubbed the Copper King.

Though many disasters befell the miners—in 1903 McIntyre fell through the ice at Taku Inlet and drown, and in 1907 Grainger was found dead at the bottom of a mine shaft after being poisoned by carbon monoxide—the worst disaster happened at the Pueblo Mine on March 21, 1917.

At 11:27 a.m. of that day the west face of the mine caved in and nine men were buried beneath the rubble.

At first mine officials hoped for the best.

“By those who understand the workings at the mine, it is believed the men are behind the cave-in, in which event they are perfectly safe until they can be reached with the drift that is now driving through the solid rock,” reported the Weekly Star on March 21, 1917.

“This drift will have to be 70 feet long and to date those at work have made the unprecedented speed of one foot per hour.”

For days rescuers kept a feverish pace trying to reach the trapped miners. The rescue party hardly paused to eat, sleep or rest, according to the Star.

Until finally, after drilling 81 feet, they found three of the trapped men—Harry Graham, Thomas Davis and Nick Radovich.

The three men, who had been entombed beneath the rubble for 86 hours, were unharmed. They were taken to the Whitehorse hospital and released after a few days of observation.

Meanwhile, rescuers continued boring through the rubble looking for more of the missing men, but found nothing but disappointment.

On March 29 all rescue efforts were abandoned at the mine.

Engineers had examined the site and found that there was imminent danger of a cave-in in the main shaft.

In fact the danger was so great that the miners left some of their equipment, including a diamond drill, behind in the tunnels.

The Royal North-West Mounted Police began an investigation into the disaster. After interviewing 20 miners who had worked at Pueblo at different times, they found that water running across the rock weakened the walls of the shaft to the point where it caved in.

After the accident the Pueblo Mine was closed and the bodies of the six men were never recovered.

Today there is a plaque on Fish Lake Road commemorating the six miners—T.M. McFadden, Bob Collins, Harry Graham, Thomas Davis, Andrew Beecher and B. Levich—lost in the disaster.

This column is provided by the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. Each week it will explore a different morsel of Yukon’s modern history. For more information, or to comment on anything in this column e-mail lchalykoff@macbridemuseum.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Most Read