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Lyr Req: Scofield Mine Disaster (Utah Phillips)

19 Nov 98 - 05:47 PM (#46168)
Subject: Song Request: Scofield mine explosion of 1900
From: Damon

I'm looking for a song I recently heard one verse of about the Scofield mine explosion of 1900. This is all I can tell you about it. I don't know the name of the song.

Thanks Damon

20 Nov 98 - 09:39 AM (#46247)
Subject: RE: Song Request: Scofield mine explosion of 1900
From: Earl

I heard it too, on an excellent PBS show about the year 1900. I was surprised I couldn't find it in the database.

20 Nov 98 - 09:50 AM (#46249)
Subject: RE: Song Request: Scofield mine explosion of 1900
From: Kris

Is that the one about 'My father used to call the turn... etc etc. Rap her tae banks me cannie lads etc.. If so I probably can get hold of the words, or remember most of them. Or was that another mining disaster?


20 Nov 98 - 11:42 PM (#46323)
Subject: RE: Song Request: Scofield mine explosion of 1900
From: rich r

A song called "Scofield Mine Disaster" can be found on the recording "Heart Songs: The Old Time Country Songs of Utah Phillips" by Jody Stecher & Kate Brislin (Rounder 0424, 1997). I do not have that CD and have not heard it, but maybe the information will trigger a response by someone else, or you can take a chance and get the CD yourself.

rich r

20 Nov 98 - 11:47 PM (#46324)
Subject: Lyr Add: SCOFIELD MINE DISASTER (Utah Phillips)
From: Karen K.

I don't remember where I got this, but I've known it for years. Don't know who wrote it either. Scofield is in Nova Scotia Utah. I use the chords: E E7; A E; E; B7 E


Cho: Don't you see that funeral train?
Don't you see that funeral train?
Rolling down that lonesome valley
It's the longest one I've seen.

May the 1st was bright and clear
1900 was the year
A great explosion rocked our town
While the men were underground.

When we gathered at the slide
We thought that just a few had died
Fought our way in past the mine head
Carried out two hundred dead.

When we brought them to the light
It was black and an awful sight
In one family there were nine
Lost inside that burning mine.

A miner's life is hard I know
His work is dark and far below
While he starves and goes in rags
He's cheaper than the coal he digs.

Hope this is the one you are looking for. It's a good song with a good tune in a minor key. Can anyone produce it? I could sing it to you on the phone if you want to e-mail me at: and give me your phone number. Didn't check to see if this is already in the database.


21 Nov 98 - 11:02 AM (#46355)
Subject: RE: Song Request: Scofield mine explosion of 1900
From: rich r

I don't know if the lyrics above are the same as the Utah Phillips song. However to correct the historical record, The Scofield Mine disaster of May 1, 1900, occurred in the Winter Quarters Number Four mine located west of Scofield, Utah, about 50 miles southeast of Provo. It was a coal dust explosion that killed many miners directly in #4. Miners from #1 also died when they tried to exit through #4 and encountered carbon monoxide. The official death toll was 200, but there was no official record of who was in the mine at the time and some estimates run as high as 246. The dead included 20 young boys and at least 61 Finnish immigrants. It was the most lethal coal mine disaster in the USA up to that time. The death toll of later disasters did surpass Scofield's (Monongah, WV 362 in 1907; Jacobs Creek, PA 239 in 1907; Dawson, NM 263 in 1913). 149 of the victims were buried in Scofield cemetery with 2 services, one Finnish Lutheran and one LDS. The operator of the mine, Pleasant Valley Coal Company (a true oxymoron) paid the burial expenses, gave each man's family $500 and erased several thousand dollars in debt at the company store. This disaster led to a clamor for improved mine safety and treatment of miners, and the beginning of serious union organization efforts in Utah. It was one of the reasons behind a strike in the Scofield area in the winter of 1900-1901 and played a roll in a nationwide strike in 1903-04.

rich r

21 Nov 98 - 11:06 AM (#46356)
Subject: RE: Song Request: Scofield mine explosion of 1900
From: rich r

The difference between a "roll" and a "role" is a silent letter. The sound of nothing can have a profound change on the meaning.

rich r

21 Nov 98 - 11:51 AM (#46364)
Subject: RE: Song Request: Scofield mine explosion of 1900
From: karen k

rich r is right. There's another mine disaster song from Nova Scotia, the title of which escapes me at the moment. Thanks for setting it straight, rich.

karen k

21 Nov 98 - 11:58 AM (#46366)
Subject: RE: Song Request: Scofield mine explosion of 1900
From: karen k

Yes, the words I posted are the Utah Phillips' song. It can be found in his songbook, 'Starlight On The Rails.' It's on page 21 and 22.

Thanks for jogging my memory as to the source.

karen k.

01 May 13 - 06:42 PM (#3510827)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scofield Mine Disaster (Utah Phillips)
From: GUEST,Holly

Thank you for your historical accuracy on this. In honor of the 113th anniversary, I just happened to stumble upon this.
My great, great grandfather was killed in this mining disaster. I never knew him, but am the product of his grand daughter ( my grandmother) who has greatly influenced my love for Labor and for unions.
Her mother was a staunch union advocate and at one time an officer in the Utah Democratic party.
I too, am a proud union member. My parents also were union within their respective professions.
Thanks again for the history lesson. You are correct. I am grateful that there are others who know about this tragedy. It is important to me that this story not be forgotten.
I am LDS, not many people of my faith practice my politics, and that is fine. However, the deplorable working conditions and the hard working miners at the time are a part of history that no one should or can deny.
Let's hope we stop unsafe Labor practices sometime in my lifetime.
I think that is my calling, actually.