Friday, June 17, 2011

1906, Three Men Die in Gold Mine Explosion Near Jacksonville

By Dennis M. Powers

A newspaper story in January 1906 called a deadly explosion at the Opp Mine near Jacksonville, Ore., “one of the most serious accidents in the history of Southern Oregon mining.”

Located on Reservoir Road close to Highway 238 and the town of Jacksonville, the Opp Mine ran deep with 12 ledges of golden veins. A nearby 20-stamp mill crushed the ore. Three men lost their lives in the explosion between 5 and 6 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon. The nightshift came on duty and discovered the bodies.

The three miners were working inside a tunnel with a machine drill and had driven 18 holes into the hard rock. One was already loaded with powder. The procedure was to “shoot” all of the holes before leaving a shift, so they had brought in a giant box of powder to load the other holes, setting it down a distance away. It’s not known what caused it, perhaps roof rock crashing down on a dynamite stick, but the powder box exploded.

A coroner’s jury later held that the deaths were accidental and a continued risk in the gold mines.

Written for JPR's series, As It Was.

Sources: “Fatal Explosion at Opp Mine,” January, 1906, Gold Hill News; records and files of the Gold Hill Historical Society. Online: “Jacksonville.” InfoMine Inc.,; “The Opp Mine: Historical Gold Mine.” Loopnet.

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