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100 years ago in Mullan, Idaho: Miners rescued after being trapped for 2 weeks

The mine superintendent said the trapped miners were “warm and looking fine,” yet weak form the ordeal. (SR archives)
The mine superintendent said the trapped miners were “warm and looking fine,” yet weak form the ordeal. (SR archives)

Miners Peter Grant and Emil Sayko emerged into the light of day after being entombed 2,600 feet deep in the Gold Hunter Mine near Mullan, Idaho, for 14 days.

The mine superintendent said they were “warm and looking fine,” yet weak form the ordeal. They were immediately taken to the Providence Hospital at Wallace as a precaution, The Spokesman-Review reported.

They said that when they were first trapped by a cave-in, they had only their two dinner pails. A half-barrel of water was on the floor where they were trapped. Grant, fortunately, “was in the habit of carrying a large number of matches.”

However, they had used up all of their food after four days and all of their matches after five.

“There were black hours until they heard the water trickle and they went almost wild with delight when the diamond drill broke through from above,” said a correspondent. “Then they felt they were saved.”

Not quite. The drill had punched a hole only big enough to run a tube to the men. Rescuers sent down matches, water, 400 “finger-loaves” of bread and 900 candles. The candles provided light and heat, allowing them to dry out a place to sleep. These allowed Grant and Sayko (previously rendered as Slayko) to spend the final week in relative comfort.

The rescue effort was aided by “every mining operator in the district,” although the bulk of the credit went to their Gold Hunter compatriots, who “exposed their lives every day.” In fact, two rescuers were briefly trapped by a second cave-in, but they were dug out within a day.

Sayko and Grant said the only time they felt completely discouraged was when they heard the second cave-in, and it seemed that the rescue work had failed.

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