Sunshine Mine Disaster: May 2, 1972

May 2nd, 1972.
There are dates in our lives we never forget. For those of us that grew up in the Silver Valley of northern Idaho none of us will forget May 2nd, 1972. That day a fire broke out in the Sunshine Mine and 91 miners were killed from the toxic smoke of that blaze. I revisited the mining memorial when I was home spring break. A person from the valley can stand and read the information at the memorial and walk around studying the names of the miners surrounding the bronze statue, but even after all these years, it just doesn’t sink in. It was too big, too much to take in. I was seventeen years old when we heard the news of the fire. I lived across the street from a nursing home that became a temporary morgue. We saw hearses from funeral homes as far away as Grangeville and Cottonwood. I kept studying the pictures in the paper of those that had deceased and it still didn’t sink in. It was a dark time . Recently my niece and two friends wrote an original play and performed it for an Idaho History Day competition. When I watched them perform the play depicting the events of that first day of the mine disaster I was once again brought to tears. This outstanding performance earned them a trip to the state competition and then to the nationals. I am pleased that my niece and her team will retell the story of the Sunshine Mine Disaster in Washington, D.C. in June. It is a story that we need to remember.
My prayers today are with everyone impacted that day in May in 1972.


  1. Thank you for the tribute. I have thought about the disaster off and on today, and having read The Deep Dark, by Gregg Olsen just last week, my heart has been tender for the families who lost their men.

  2. Great pictures.

  3. Mines were once thick up and down my valley and mining is in my blood. This post spoke to me today.

  4. Those of us that grew up around mining in this country understand what you mean sian. Thanks all for the comments.


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