Senators, governor remember Granite Mountain-Speculator disaster

Montana’s U.S. senators both honored the victims and survivors of the Granite Mountain-Speculator mine disaster with statements on the Senate floor and in the Congressional Record.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines read a Senate proclamation “meant to recognize the strength of those Montanans who sacrificed their lives in support our nation’s military work in World War I, as well as those who jumped to help a fallen brother without question.”

He added, “One hundred years after this tragedy, we are also reminded of how far we have come in hard rock mining. Jobs that were once seen as high risk are now very desirable, not just due to high wages, but more importantly because of advances in safety. In fact, according to the Department of Labor, fiscal year 2016 was the safest year in mining history. The Granite Mountain-Speculator Mine Fire reminds us that we must continue to push for even safer mining.”

Thursday, Sen. Jon Tester’s citation pointed out that “The miners had minimal safety training and the mine lacked even basic safety precautions, such as exit signs. Many of those who were saved spent upwards of 50 hours in the mine before help arrived, barricaded from the fumes behind makeshift bulkheads.

“The Granite Mountain disaster remains the worst hard-rock mining disaster in U.S. history. But Butte miners managed to make progress out of this tragedy,” the citation read. “The Granite Mountain Disaster led to a unification of the U.S. labor movement and an unprecedented push for labor laws that are still in effect today.”

Gov. Steve Bullock also issued a statement Thursday.

“Today we remember the greatest loss of life in metal mining history, reflect on the significance of the ‘Richest Hill on Earth’ to Montana and our nation, and celebrate the brothers and sisters of the labor movement who shaped our future course,” said Bullock. “Let us not ever forget the sacrifices of those in our past who have made us who we are today.”