NEGAUNEE — As the ninetieth anniversary of one of the most catastrophic mining disasters in Michigan history nears, a few events have started to pop up to commemorate the tragedy.
Well over 100 people turned up at the first presentation of “Miner’s Died and Widows Cried; Death in the Iron Ore Mines” earlier this evening at the Ernie Ronn Hall in Negaunee.
Local historian Jim Paquette led the presentation, which took an in depth look at the mining conditions that led to several injuries and fatalities in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
He also gave attendees a look into the lives some of the miners who died in several accidents during this time period. This included the 1926 tragedy at the Barnes-Hecker Mine near Ishpeming, in which 51 men were trapped underground and subsequently lost their lives.
“As I read the names, what I want you to look at is the faces of the widows and children from the Barnes-Hecker. I’m not sure of the names of what families these are, but these are grieving widows and children,” Paquette said. “When I read these names, it’s like I’m reading right out of a phone book. It’s like I pulled up an Ishpeming phone book and just started reading names, because the names that I read in here are familiar. These are our names.”
The stories of the widows and the minor children left behind were highlighted during the presentation as well.
If you missed tonight’s presentation, it will be held again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Ernie Ronn Hall.