Eighty-seven years ago this month, two explosions tore through the Number Two Mine at Castle Gate in Carbon County killing all 171 workers in the mine. One rescue worker also died after breathing in carbon monoxide fumes while trying to find survivors.
According to later reports, a miner's open-flame headlamp caused the explosions by igniting either coal dust or methane gas.
Historian Nancy Taniguchi said the 1924 Castle Gate disaster had a tremendous impact on the communities of Carbon County. The county's mining work force had always been an ethnic and national fusion. Greeks, Japanese, Italians, South Slavs, English, Belgians, Scots, and Americans-both black and white-died side by side in the tragedy. But nationality and ethnicity seemed to matter very little in the aftermath of the disaster. The loss of life was mourned by the entire county, as people from Helper, Price, Spring Glen and Kenilworth closed businesses, churches, and other public meeting places in honor of the dead.
In the weeks that followed the tragedy they and other Utahns also opened their pocketbooks, eventually collecting and distributing, through one of the state's first social workers, more than $100,000 to the families left destitute by the catastrophe.