6 Feb 1900
A Day of MADNESS in violent proportions. Two young men, William Wallace. Jr (31) and Walter Smith (21) were carrying out the daily grind at the "Tasmania Mine”. Unknowingly, possibly minutes away, an explosion of serious magnitude would be discharged within the mine, killing one man and seriously wounding another.
William, known best as Bill, held the title of Foreman for the Tasmania Mine. The crisp spring morning had been getting underway. Bill was walking away from the ever growing heat of the burning hot stove when a violent blast knocked him flat and peppered his back with bits of slag before landing face down from the uncontrollable energy of the concussion.
The young Walter Smith was killed forthwith, as he was still standing next to the stove when the blast materialized and separated him instantly from his former life. Walter was buried in the Winfield Cemetery at the young age of 21.
Bill was not expected to live either, although he did not immediately perish. After the accident, Bill couldn’t seem to rid himself of the tiny bits of slag that had been peppered into his back during the explosion. (Slag has poisonous ingredients, one being lead). So his father (his brother Blair Wallace) took him to Mexico, where they had “heard tell of” healers that could help restore his health. This did not bring the cure or comfort as they had hoped for and nothing else is known about this trip to Mexico.
Although Bill did not immediately die from his woulds, he would never be his former self.
It had been 14 months since the accident and on 2 Mar 1901, in a still weakened state from the explosion, Bill died after suffering from (according to his death certificate) LaGrippe, that which is more commonly known as Influenza. He was then laid to rest in Winfield Cemetery.
Another account: THE SALIDA MAIL (Salida, Chaffee County) February 9,1900)
EXPLOSION AT WINFIELD
On last Tuesday afternoon a terrible explosion of dynamite occurred at Winfield in the northern part of this county, resulting in the death of one man and perhaps fatal injury to another. The dead man is Walter Smith, aged about 20 years, son of the General Manager, H.W. Smith.
There were not proper facilities at the mine for the warming of giant powder but a tin can was need for the purpose, short candles or “snuffs” being places underneath it with the frozen powder inside. A number of sticks were being warmed by this means near the mouth of the tunnel when the powder suddenly exploded.
Walter Smith who was standing near at the time was instantly killed and his body horribly mangled, while William Wallace, foreman who what a short distance away was (not) fatally injured. Medical aid was obtained from Granite nearly eighteen miles away in as short a time as possible. There is little hope of saving the life of the injured man. (William Wallace).
Stacey Wallace Rehbein © 2022