Argonaut Mine

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Argonaut Mine
Argonaut Mine - 1.gif
Argonaut Mine and Mill, c. 1920
Location State Route 49, Jackson, California
Coordinates 38°21′53″N 120°47′14″W / 38.364717°N 120.7871°W / 38.364717; -120.7871Coordinates: 38°21′53″N 120°47′14″W / 38.364717°N 120.7871°W / 38.364717; -120.7871
Reference No. 786
Argonaut Mine is located in California
Argonaut Mine
Location of Argonaut Mine in California

The Argonaut Mine is a gold mine in Jackson, California, United States. It was discovered in 1850 and was the site of the worst gold-mining disaster in the state's history. The mine closed in 1942 and, along with the nearby Kennedy Mine, is registered as California Historical Landmark #786.[1]

It was discovered by two miners, James Hager and William Tudor. The mine's serious development began in 1893 when it was purchased by the Argonaut Mining Company. The mine operated until 1942, reaching a vertical depth of 5,570 feet (1,700 m) via a 63-degree shaft and produced more than $25 million in gold.

The disaster[edit]

On August 27, 1922, 47 miners, mostly immigrants from Italy, Spain, and Serbia, were trapped in a fire 4,650 feet (1,420 m) below ground. Other miners who had been near the surface poured water down the shaft in an attempt to put out the flames. By dawn, townspeople and other miners arrived to help, but it took two-and-a-half days for the fire to be extinguished.

Rescuers began re-opening tunnels from the Kennedy Mine which had been closed since an earlier fire in 1919. It was slow going, but hopes remained high until September 18, when a canary inserted beyond a bulkhead by oxygen-tank-equipped workers died. Still, it took three weeks to reach the level at which the miners were trapped. None survived, and evidence indicated that they had all died within hours of the fire's breaking out. One of the bodies was not recovered until a year later. Most likely, water flushed down the shaft carried his body further into the mine, but in the intervening time, newspapers speculated he had fled the mine to start a new life.

It was determined that the mine had violated safety regulations, but the owners escaped punishment, as the United States Bureau of Mines had little enforcement power. The cause of the fire was never determined and put down to "incendiarism," a broad term meaning either arson or defective wiring.

Cultural Reference[edit]

Argonaut High School located in Jackson, California, is named after the mine.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Argonaut and Kennedy Mines". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-03-30.