Vulcan mine claimed 89 lives by 1918 |

Vulcan mine claimed 89 lives by 1918

Donna GrayGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. New Castle was still sagebrush, piñon and juniper scrub when Jasper Ward and his brothers brought their 75-mule freight train to Colorado.The Wards followed the gold rush from Leadville to Aspen to Carbonate, 16 miles northwest of Glenwood Springs. Jasper settled on land where Elk Creek runs into what was then called the Grand River.By the 1880s, coal was found just outside of town, a seam that runs through the area along the flanks of the Grand Hogback. Miners flocked to the fledgling town to bring out the black gold that would fuel the silver smelters in Aspen and Leadville. The little town that could became New Castle, named by immigrant English miners for New Castle-on-Tyne, one of Britain’s largest coal mining centers.Arriving on scene at this time was a local mover and shaker, Walter Devereux, who bought the hot springs in Glenwood Springs and made a world-class resort around it that included the bath house and Hotel Colorado.Devereux was on the hunt for coal to keep his Aspen Mining and Smelting Co. going and opened coal mines near Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle.By 1892, there were 400 coal miners in the town’s four mines, including the Vulcan Mine on the south side of the river.On Feb. 18, 1896, a huge explosion ripped through the mine killing 49 miners. The Vulcan was shut down.Rocky Mountain Fuel Co. bought the Vulcan and reopened it in 1910.The Vulcan produced large amounts of coal but on Dec. 16, 1913, at 10:20 a.m., the people of New Castle heard another terrific blast. In all, 37 miners died in that explosion. That was the beginning of the end for the Vulcan. It was shut down for good in 1918, but not before it claimed three more victims on Nov. 3. A fire ignited by the explosion burned so hot it couldn’t be extinguished, and burns to this day. On winter days smoke can still be seen seeping out of the hogback where the Vulcan once flourished.Source for information: “Legend of the Burning Mountain.”Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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