Smith Mine disaster at Bearcreek fatal to 74 coal miners

Laurel girl Margaret Barclay had the honor of being named Miss Wool of Montana in 1968. She went on to represent the state in the national pageant in Texas.

25 years ago

Feb. 24, 1993

Over $100,000 worth of marijuana was confiscated and a 41-year-old local man was arrested as the result of an interdepartmental raid on a Birch Ave. home early Feb. 19. Approximately a dozen officers from the Laurel and Billings police departments, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations spent over four hours searching the home at 506 Birch Ave. Friday morning. there they discovered what is probably the largest marijuana grow operation ever found in Laurel. Authorities seized 97 growing marijuana plants, many six feet tall and four roots from already harvested plants, in addition to 10 pounds of bagged marijuana. Daryl J. Scheffer was arrested and charged with manufacturing and possessing with intent to distribute marijuana as a result of this operation. He faces up to 20 years in jail, $2,000,000 fine and at least three years of supervised release. Scheffer was being held subject to posting a $100,000 bond. His attorney requested that Scheffer be released without bond because he cares for a disabled woman.

The birth of Brooke Megan Goodman was announced.

50 years ago

March 6, 1968

The reports from Great Falls are in and they are marvelous. The Locomotives won some important games and came home with second place in the district—which pleased nearly all of Laurel. Even more pleasing is the report from responsible officials of the tournament and host school. Laurel’s fans and players behaved themselves and have earned and received favorable comment for their effort. It is evident that in Laurel the athletic program includes sportsmanship, and equally evident the student body and adult fans that follow Laurel’s teams understand their role as rooters. This is something in which the entire community can take pride. It is also something every member of the community should accept as responsibility.

The Art and Craft Hobby Club met at the home os Mrs. Sam Frank Wednesday evening. Seven members and one guest, Mrs. Roy Horning of Laurel were present. the group worked on stuffed turtles. The next meeting will be at the home of Mrs. Edson Hedges.

Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Whitcanack received word their son, Darryl, would be attending a two-week course, starting Feb. 24, at Aviation HHD 75 Transportation Bn., in Vung Tau, Viet Nam. He will be taking advanced training on the Model H helicopter engines.

Jim Simons recently spent a day at home visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Clifford E. Simons. He has returned to Hot Springs Hospital in Thermopolis where he is undergoing therapy treatments and shows marked improvement.

Mary Kay Kamerzel and Jean Jorgenson of Fort Peck, students at Eastern Montana College, spent the weekend with Mary Kay’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Kamerzel in Park City.

Phillip Schriner of Laurel has been cutting down some of the old trees in Pioneer Park north of Park City.

Montana’s representative at the Miss Wool of America Pageant in San Angelo, Texas, will be Miss Margaret Barclay of Laurel. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Miles A. Barclay of Laurel. Miss Barclay was chosen Miss Wool of Montana for the 1968 pageant held Sunday in Missoula. Karol Dee Kramer, Miss Wool of Montana for 1967 crowned the new Miss Wool, and presented her with a bouquet of red roses made of wool.

75 years ago

March 3, 1943

It was reported here Wednesday that bodies of 36 miners who died in the Smith coal mine at Bearcreek, where an explosion Saturday trapped 74 men, had been recovered to date. The disaster, resulting from a blast 500 feet below the surface and a half mile from the mine entrance, is classed as one of the worst of its kind in Montana. Taut, numbed relatives of the men have waited hours and days at the mine entrance for news from rescue spuds working deep in the interior. As time wore on hope faded that at least some of the trapped men had reached points where they might be found alive. There was little expectation that any had escaped the effects of the deadly monoxide gas. Nineteen of the bodies had been located Tuesday by the rescue workers. The rescue shifts have been composed of miners from the Butte copper mines, others from the Roundup coal mining district and volunteers from Laurel and other communities. Over the hill at Red Lodge an emergency hospital has treated rescuers suffering from exposure to the gases. Coming to Laurel since the disaster have been some of the relatives of victims. They have been stoically calm. The Smith mines has operated since 1906 and is the property of Montana Coal and Iron company. Its principal tunnels and laterals constitute a huge labyrinth of many miles. Gov. Sam Ford arrived at the mine Monday night and immediately offered state assistance wherever needed. Red Cross workers from Laurel were on the scene Saturday, giving out coffee and sandwiches to rescue workers. The disaster enters the homes of many people outside the Washoe-Bearcreek-Red Lodge are. Reese Price of Laurel has a brother in the list of missing. The father of John Barovich, high school coach at Columbus, is listed. Others living here and in Carbon and Stillwater counties have relatives among the victims.

100 years ago

Feb. 27, 1918

Any merchant who sells flour in greater quantities than those fixed by the state food administration, or who fails to sell the required amount of substitutes with each order for flour will be prosecuted, fined and permanently put out of business. There will be no leniency whatever shown violators of the food administration rules. This statement is made by State Food Administrator Atkinson, and that he means every word of it is proved by the action taken last week against the Brackman Grocery company.

Riding the top of a load of hay with bullets whistling through the atmosphere is not the most pleasant place in the worldtake it from H. E. Mullenax, a Silesia rancher, but one good feature about hay is that a load of it makes an excellent camouflage for one man and by burrowing into the middle of a load he can put the jinx on any sniper says the Carbon County Journal. The aforesaid sniper, according to Mullenax, happened on this occasion to be S.B. Howard, a rancher whose property adjoins Mullenax’s. Mullenax had Howard arrested last Saturday for using him for a revolver target. The arrest was made by Undersheriff M.P. Normile on a bench warrant issued by District Judge Spencer last week. Howard is held under a $2,000 bond. Mullenax complained to County Attorney H.A. Simmons that on the fifth day of this month he went to his ranch on which he was not residing at the time, for a load of hay. He had loaded the fodder and was leaving the place, he declares, when Howard drove into sight and opened fire with a revolver. Mullenax remembered the “safety first,” slogan and burrowed into his load. The team he was driving became frightened and bolted giving him an exciting ride. Mullenax carried his tale of woe to the County Attorney, who investigated the case and then obtained leave from Judge Spencer to file an information direct, charging Howard with assault in the first degree. Mullenax told the county attorney that there was a long standing difference between himself and Howard and that on at least one previous occasion the latter had tried to settle things by violence.

Mrs. Riley Lay and son, Henry, are under quarantine for smallpox. Mrs. Lay broke out in the court room Saturday during the trial of Jack Lay against O.M. Wold and thus exposed a number of people. County Health Officer Allard compelled Riley Lay and Jack to be vaccinated and fumigated before they were allowed to return to the court room.

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Saturday, April 20, 2019
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Tuesday, April 23, 2019
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Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.

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