top of page

1901::The Union Mine Explosions and the Mountain Slide in Loughborough Inlet, British Columbia

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

Three explosions. Hours apart.

1901::Miners' Cabins at the north end of Union Mine. Date unknown.

"1901::Miners' Cabins at the North End of Union Mine." Photo: BC Archives (A-04531)

Shortly before 11 am on February 15th, 1901, a terrible explosion rang out in the Union Mine of Cumberland on Vancouver Island. Moments later, a shaft caught fire death-trapping the miners working half a mile from the entrance. At 5:00 pm, a second explosion rocked a second shaft where a rescue party had just resurfaced after a desperate attempt to reach their trapped co-workers.

1901::Second explosion rocks Union Mine.

"Second Explosion Rocks Union Mine"

Clip: Vancouver Daily World (1901) Vancouver, British Columbia

Rescue efforts seemed futile. It was decided that the best course of action would be to flood the mine to exhaust the fire. This meant certain death for anyone still alive. Tragically, 65 miners perished in the Union Mine explosions. Shortly after 11 am the following day, an explosion of a different kind rang out a little over 100 km northwest of the Union Mine disaster at the entrance of Loughborough Inlet.

1901::An enormous slice of a mountain falls into sea.

"Enormous Slice"

Clip: Spokane Chronicle (1901)

Spokane, Washington

The Loughborough people at Elk Bay reported feeling a small earthquake at first, but a minute later, they felt as though the world was coming to an end. They watched in horror as the top of an entire mountain fell into the sea, triggering a tidal wave in plain view of their settlement. The following clip is their story.

1901::The Loughborough Slide

"The Loughborough Slide"

Clip: The San Francisco Examiner (1901)

San Francisco, California

The Loughborough Slide was reported widely across America but was barely reported on locally. It's possible that the Union Mine disaster overshadowed its significance.

1901::Initial local news of the Loughborough Inlet slide.

"Local News of Loughborough"

Clip: Vancouver Daily World (1901) Vancouver, British Columbia

The largest (perhaps only) local initial report of the incident appeared several days later in a Vancouver paper.


"Massive Landslide at Loughborough Inlet"

National Observer (2020)

When this story was first posted on Papertown Station's Facebook page, it was completely unknown that the area had just months before been hit hard with another slide. In November 2020, it was estimated that roughly 18 million cubic metres of rock descended 1,000 metres into a glacial lake below and a tidal wave soon followed. This clip shows the devastation of the area today.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page