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TELLURIDE, COLORADO
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ghost miner

"The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living."–T. S. Eliot
 

Mining was one of the most dangerous professions in the last centuries, often claiming numerous lives in single disasters. Miners also succumbed to diseases directly related to their work, the specter of miners' pneumonia hovering in the dark tunnels and stopes, taking away even the young and strong. An added danger threatened in the high basins and slopes of the San Juan Mountains - avalanche. Miners called avalanches the White Death, a roaring flash of sliding snow with the power to sweep away entire buildings, carrying away men, mules, and machinery; and endangering the lives of those who attempted to rescue the victims.

This is a partial list of the many miners who died in the Telluride region. Additions and corrections will be made as TMM receives them. If you would like to add names or offer corrections, please see bottom of page.

1883 - December, one man killed at the Nevada Mine, avalanche.

1883 - December, four men killed at the Virginius Mine, avalanche.

1883 - December 21, James Burns and Fionnlaigh T. "Scotty" Farquharson, died in an avalanche, Gold Bug Mine, Marshall Basin.

1883 - December, Mendota Mine, avalanche swept away buildings, killing eight miners.

1883 - December, thirteen killed at the Liberty Bell (?)

1887 - May 20, Frank During, killed at the Virginius Mine.

1888 - November 15, James Prout, Sheridan Mine, from a head injury caused by falling rock on 29 October 1888. His partner, Henry Wesson, was also injured, but recovered.

1890 - October 3, Maurice M. Fawcett, Virginius Mine, from a 100-foot fall down shaft.

1893 - January 29, Archibald Hawton, Sheridan Mine, from miners' pneumonia.

1901 - May 20, E. J. Oakland crushed in a cave-in at the Smuggler-Union Mine.

1901 - May 26, Shift Boss Sayer died in a 200-foot fall in the Butterfly Mine, Ophir District.

1901 - July 3, John Barthell, union miner shot by Sheridan Mine guard. His memorial stone in the center of the miners' union plot at Lone Tree Cemetery is a place of pilgrimage for many. Twenty-seven-year-old John Barthell was born Johan Bertills in Kovjoki, Vörå, Finland. He had joined his cousins in Telluride in 1900, Americanizing his name and joining the union. Every union man considered him a martyr, a brother who had sacrificed his life for his fellow miners and his dedication to justice. He was unarmed when a mine guard shot him during the strike of 1901. The beautiful marble monument to the slain Finn acclaims him with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb driven cattle,
Be a hero in the strife.
Barthell
1901 - July 3, Joseph Lujan, nonunion trammer shot in riot at Sheridan Mine.

1901 - July 3, Ben Burnham, nonunion trammer shot in riot at Sheridan Mine.

1901 - November 20, fire at the Bullion Tunnel buildings of the Smuggler-Union Mining Company killed 24 men:

Hugh O'Neil Thorvald Torkleson William Merrifield
Joe Nelson John Nevala Matt Stark
Alex Fellman Carey "Red" Barclay Iva Sundstrom
John Ahone Karl Maki August Kaanta
Billy Jones Gus Sundborg Emil Dahlstrom
John Peterson Louis Borzaga Allan Hendrickson
John Rals Antoine Anesi William A. Graham
Oberto Rafati Mark Zadra and his cousin Frank Zadra


1901 - September 10, William John Burley, of Devonshire, England, who had worked in the mines at Central City, Fairplay, and Telluride, died of miner's pneumonia at the home of his friend, Joe Williams, on Fall Creek, San Miguel County. He was 45, leaving his mother, sister, and three brothers to mourn him in England. (Thanks to Hilary and Brian Edwards of England for biographical details of Mr. Burley).

1901 - December 16, Peter Casagranda, Tomboy Mine, from a 75-foot fall down an ore chute.

1902 - February 27, two Tomboy miners killed by bad air.

1902 - March 4, two miners killed up Bear Creek, avalanche.

1902 - February 28, nineteen killed by avalanche at the Liberty Bell, Sheridan, and other mines: Henry Martin, ______________,

1902 - April 3, James Getti died in a 200-foot fall in Smuggler-Union Mine.

1903 - February 7, an avalanche killed Louis Leslie, Ophir District.

1903 - March 14, T. McBride killed in a fall at the Tomboy Mine.

1903 - May 16, Sam Nelson killed in a fall in the Tomboy Mine.

1903 - July, Charles West, crushed by rock at the Smuggler-Union Mine.

1904 - February 8, _______ McNeice crushed by falling rock, Liberty Bell Mine.

1904 - March 31, ________Dwyer killed at Liberty Bell Mine.

1904 - April 24, William Burke suffocated at the Tomboy Mine.

1909 - March 18, Peter August “Gus” Peterson, crushed to death by a chute-load of ore at the Tomboy mine. He was about 40 years old, unmarried, and had worked for the Tomboy for several years.

1919 - September 10, four miners were murdered at the Tomboy Mine: Gus Danielson, Erik Smith, Alfred Sund, and Celeste Mattivi. A fifth, Joe Kochize,(or Kochevr a“Slavonian” (according to the newspapers) ) was shot in the knee by the assailants who brutally attacked the men in the Montana tunnel of the Tomboy Mining Company. Sund was shot in the chest and the hand, and after he had fallen to the ground, he was then “shot in the head under the left ear... [as all the victims were] to make sure that the men were killed.” The execution-style killings made some believe the attack was ethnically motivated by a group called “The Black Hand,” and in November of that year, one of the assailants, August Morletti, was convicted of the crime. Danielson, Smith, and Sund were sons of Finland: Danielson was born in Jeppo as Gustav Alfred Heikfolk; Smith was born in Malax, and Sund was born in Kantlaks Munsala, Finland. His grave in Lone Tree Cemetery once carried the inscription: Alfred Sund född 1898 i Kantlaks Munsala avled i Telluride Colo 1919 † 9† 10, but this inscription can no longer be read. It is published here as a memorial to these men from Finland who lost their lives far away from their loving families in the home country.

Many thanks to Anders Smedberg of Finland for details of his uncle, Alfred Sund, and the other Finns. Mr. Smedberg's book about his uncle, titled, “Alfred Sund: An Emigrant's Destiny is available here. He has provided the photo of Alfred Sund (at left below) and the funeral of the Finns in Finn Hall at Telluride (at right below) — both used with his gracious permission.
Sund Funeral


1920 - January 1, Matti Puusti, age 40, husband of Hanna Puusti, died of miner's consumption. He was born in Lappajarvi, Finland. (Thanks to Edward Orava of Canada for biographical details of his grandfather).

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To send TMM the name of a Telluride district miner you would like to include in the memorial list, please email us with the miner's full name, his date of death, where he died, the mine he worked in, the cause of death, his personal information, such as marital status, age, birth date, and any other information about him you'd like included. Please include your source of information, such as newspapers, family history, interview, etc.

Please also include your own name, address, phone, and if you are related to the deceased.

Send email to:

Kenneth O. Walker, TMM Committee Member:
kowalker//at//protonmail.ch

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