Spokane's Deadliest Disaster, Greenwood Cemetery

There are 15 unmarked graves at Greenwood Memorial Terrace that belong to railroad workers who were blown to smithereens on 06 September 1890.

A crew, of at least 24 men, was working that day to clear rock to make way for the Northern Pacific freight yards. Witnesses claim that the rock foreman, James McPherson, was in a hurry as he was tamping approximately 200 pounds of blasting powder into the drill hole when, suddenly, the entire area blew up. Bodies, basalt, and balls of fire flew through the air before falling back down to the earth, killing and burying more workers in the rubble. Other workers were also injured, and according to the Spokane Spokesman, "Men with mangled limbs, covered with blood and dirt, their clothes in tatters and their bodies disfigured, crawled about over the rocks in a stupor, not knowing which way to turn."

The project contractor, Smith and Howell, paid for the burial of 15 men - who lived in shantytown and had no family to tend to their funerals - but did not pay for individual headstones. They were buried at Greenwood Memorial Terrace, and today, there stands a memorial to them and the other men who perished that dreadful day in 1890.

Images

Memorial to Blast Victims

Memorial to Blast Victims

Greenwood Memorial Terrace Spokane, WA Photo Credit: Anne Coogan-Gehr 2011 View File Details Page

Sub-headline about Blast Victims

Sub-headline about Blast Victims

The Spokesman-Review "Graves of 1890 Blast Victims Found" 27 November 1995 Author: Susan Drumheller View File Details Page

Headline about Blast Victims

Headline about Blast Victims

The Spokesman-Review "Graves of 1890 Blast Victims Found" 27 November 1995 Author: Susan Drumheller View File Details Page

Audio

Spokane's Deadliest Disaster

Greenwood Memorial Terrace Spokane, WA Narrator: Julie Y. Russell View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Julie Y. Russell, “Spokane's Deadliest Disaster, Greenwood Cemetery,” Spokane Historical, accessed May 30, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/136.
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