February 27

This Day in History

Disaster

Feb 27, 1943:

Mine explosion kills 74 in Montana

On this day in 1943, an explosion at the Montana Coal and Iron Company mine kills 74 workers. It was the worst mining disaster in Montana's history.

The small communities of Washoe and Bearcreek, Montana, consisted almost entirely of mine workers and their families. Many of them worked Smith Mine #3 for the Montana Coal and Iron Company. On a cold Saturday morning, February 27, 77 men were working in the mine when, at 9:30 a.m., a huge explosion rang out. The people of Washoe and Bearcreek heard the roar and then the long, wailing siren that followed.

The exact cause of the explosion is not known, though some of the company's miners claimed methane gas had built up in some abandoned shafts and was ignited after a cave-in.

Of the 77 workers in the mine at the time of the explosion, only three made it out alive. The victims died either directly from the blast or from suffocation when oxygen levels in the mine dropped.

Virtually every household in Washoe and Bearcreek was touched by this tragedy. The mine never reopened.

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This Week in History, Feb 27 - Mar 5

Feb 27, 1943
Mine explosion kills 74 in Montana
Feb 28, 1975
Subway crash in London kills 43
Mar 01, 1910
Trains buried by avalanche
Mar 02, 1944
Train passengers suffocate
Mar 03, 1974
Faulty door dooms plane
Mar 04, 1962
DC-7 crashes in Cameroon swamp
Mar 05, 1966
Jet breaks up near Mt. Fuji

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