Pat Nelson, a Missouri teacher with Montana connections who attended “The Richest Hills” workshop last summer, alerted me to the recent tragic death of a miner at the Stillwater Mine. We tend to think of mining disasters as a thing of the past (notably the Smith Mine disaster in Bearcreek, 1943, and the Speculator Mine disaster in Butte, 1917.
But as Pat noted, “the tragedies continue today…lest we forget.”
In my quest to find out more about this recent deadly accident, I found this article in the Billings Gazette.
Even more moving was a comment I found in the comment section of an earlier Billings Gazette article: “There are around a thousand people employed by Stillwater. Add spouses, children, parents, siblings and you have a huge community who are grieving and stricken. We were all by our phones last night watching the clock, wondering why our men hadn’t come home yet...the news leaked out in trickles with co-workers calling each other, wives calling each other, off duty families consoling wives of guys who were on shift... With every doorbell ring of a trick or treater, we held our breaths to see the sheriff at the door.
Our sighs of relief when our men came home are replaced by tears and prayers for Madsen's family. We’re with you, you’re in our hearts, God Bless.”