Mining tragedy remembrance underway

NEGAUNEE — In just under two months, one of the most catastrophic mining accidents in Michigan’s history will be commemorating its 19th anniversary.

And thanks to a team of dedicated researches and descendants, the Barnes-Hecker tragedy will be remembered by generations to come.

On November 3, 1926, at 11:20 a.m., miners in the Barnes-Hecker mine near Ishpeming heard a threatening rumble from deep below. Within 15 minutes, the mine was flooded with mud, water and debris, trapping and killing 48 men underground.

Four miners scrambled up ladders to climb to the top of the pit, 800 feet above. Only one made it out alive.

As the 90th anniversary of the tragic accident approaches, a variety of events will be held in the upcoming months to honor not only those who died, but the families who were left behind.

“Now it’s our turn to pass this legacy on and to make sure that the people who follow us will remember and cherish their common mining heritage and will recognize that throughout the course of mining history there have been a lot of people who have worked really hard to improve mining safety,” said committee co-chair Mary Tippett.

“One of the things I wanted to do as a safety professional and as a union safety guy and as the safety guy with the company, was to make sure people understood where we come from, to understand the sacrifices that were made by the families of these iron ore miners who were killed or seriously injured in mining accidents,” said committee co-chair Jim Paquette.

A wide range of events, such as presentations by Paquette and author of ‘No Tears in Heaven’, Thomas Friggens, will be given on various days leading up to the anniversary. An ecumenical memorial service, a candle lit vigil and the ringing of church bells will be held during the week of November 3.

We will be following the Barnes-Hecker Remembrance in depth over the next two months, so be sure to tune in for more information.