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40th Anniversary of the 1972 Sunshine Mine Tragedy

Ninety-one miners perished in the Sunshine Mine Fire on May 2, 1972. The fire was the second deadliest hard-rock mining disaster in U.S. history, and the deaths spread tragedy throughout the Silver Valley. On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, the community gathered to mark the fire’s 40th anniversary.

Related story: 91 miners died 40 years ago at Sunshine Mine in Idaho


Photo Archive - The Spokesman-Review

This photo of the Sunshine Mine was taken in May of 1972. The main shaft is below the elevator peak above the building located on the right in the photo.


Photo Archive - The Spokesman-Review

Rescue members prepare knapsack rescue kits with oxygen tanks. The fire reportedly broke out at the 3,200 foot level in shafts not mined since the 1940s.


Photo Archive - The Spokesman-Review

Friends and relatives of 93 miners trapped underground wait for word outside the Sunshine Mine in May of 1972. Only two miners made it out alive.


Photo Archive - The Spokesman-Review

Tom Wilkerson, left, and Ron Flory are the only survivors of the Sunshine Mine Fire in May of 1972. The were rescued after a week’s entombment of nearly one mile deep.


Kathy Plonka - The Spokesman-Review

“I lost a few friends in that disaster,” said Jim Campbell of Kellogg after turning out the headlamps that signifies each of the 91 miners killed in the Sunshine Mine Disaster in 1972. Campbell has been a miner at Sunshine Mine since 1975.


Kathy Plonka - The Spokesman-Review

“Those men were good solid family men,” said Ruthie Johnson of Hayden Lake during the memorial service for the 40th anniversary of the Sunshine Mine Disaster at the miner’s memorial at Big Creek on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Johnson lived in Wallace during the 1972 mining accident.

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