14 February 2011

Chapter 51: "Coded Telegram Exchange"

MLCC stock
The MLCC was formed following the first
disastrous snow slides to hit the property in 1917.  At that point
Kennecott Copper Corp, which had secretly sought control of the ML
claims, offered to put a million dollars into development of the
properties and to make their mill available to process the ML ores 
and their CRNW Railway available at the same rates as Kennecott ore in
exchange for 51 % of the stock. This was accomplished by forming a new
corporation, the Mother Lode Coalition Mines Company (the old ML plus
Kennecott) in 1918. 

Superintendent, Kennecott, Alaska 

to Bert Nieding, mgr, Seattle,

April 28, 1927,  6:35 AM, central Alaska standard time

CRNW Railway / Western Union

ML upper camp destroyed by avalanche.  Two confirmed & three presumed dead,
including engineer Frank Buckner, camp cook and bull-cook.   All available miners involved in recovery operation.  Recovery hampered by extreme winds & drifting. 

All mining operations suspended.  

Request instructions.

W.C. Douglass, supt.
 MLCC officers
The MLCC appeared to operate independently of the KCC,
but even their headquarters was in the same building as KCC once the new MLCC
was formed.

Seattle to
Kennecott,  April 28, 8:45 AM, Pacific standard time

Take immediate
action to block news of disaster.

Continue suspension of mine operations. Submit investigation report.

Relay our regrets and shock to all at camp.

Our office has notified KCC and MLCC in NY.   

Additional instruction to follow.

Bert Nieding, mgr

The original Mother Lode
headquarters was in the Singer Building, NYC.  This building was
torn down in the late 1960s to make way for something more modern--and
far less impressive.

Bert Nieding, mgr, Pacific NW & Alaska Operations 

to S. Birch, pres, KCC, NY

C. Earl, pres, MLCMC, NY

April 28, 8:35
AM, Pacific standard time

Disaster at Kennecott, Alaska.  ML upper camp destroyed in avalanche and mining
explosion. Two confirmed and three unconfirmed  deaths, including engineer F Buckner. All mining operations suspended.  Word of disaster withheld.  Mining operations suspended while search and investigation in progress.    

Request instructions.

Bert Nieding, mgr

The Equitable Building, 120
Broadway in NYC, served as the Kennecott and Guggenheim headquarters at
least until World War II

New York to
Seattle, ET Stannard, Kennecott 

to Bert Nieding,
Seattle Operations Office

27 Apri 27,  1:35
PM, Eastern standard time

Please extend our shock and regrets to all. Will notify Birch, KCC & Charles Earl, MLCC. Maintain silence. Complete recovery and investigation before resuming mining & milling

E.T. Stannard,
VP, Kennecott

Equitable Building
The Equitable
Building has survived into modern times, although the original Kennecott
Corporation has long since been absorbed by a series of large companies,
the last being Rio Tinto. Sometime after WWII Kennecott moved its
headquarters to Salt Lake City, Utah, near their Bingham Mine

C.T. Ulrich, Secretary, MLCMC 

to Bert Nieding,
Seattle Operations Office

27 April, 1927,
2:40 PM, eastern standard time

Charles Earl is not in NYC.  We will notify him ASAP.  Please extend our shock at loss
of life and destruction of camp at ML.  Disaster news can adversely affect investor and shareholder confidence  Word of disaster must be contained.  Request you travel to site immediately to oversee operations and ensure  silence maintained.   Abandon Marvelous mining operations.

Surviving Marvelous miners to be paid off with bonus & sent  home with
admonition of silence.

C.T. Ulrich,
Pres, MLCC

The Guggenheim family were
major stockholders in Kennecott. The Guggenheims and the Havemeyers were the main
backers of Stephen Birch even before there was a Kennecott. In the early
days of railroad construction before Kennecott their organization was
known as the Alaska Syndicate. It was extremely powerful and much feared
by many Alaskans who believed that the Guggenheims would come to
monopolize Alaska. After all, they did own Alaska Steam, the new CRNW,
the two largest copper mines in Alaska and substantial coal reserves.

Daniel Guggenheim

Daniel Guggenheim was one
of the richest and most powerful men in America.

W.C. Douglass, Kennecott 

to Seattle 

Apr 27, 1927,
5:30 PM, central Alaska time

Blizzard continues.  RR operations  suspended on entire route.  Telegraph
communication could fail. No bodies recovered. Search suspended during blizzard.  All access to McCarthy blown shut.   Communication with mines limited to aerial tram to Jumbo Sta 3.  Power & phones to mines is down. Survivors moved to Bonanza
until storm passes.

W.C. Douglass,

William C. Douglass
W.C. Douglass,
Kennecott Superintendant during the 1920s

C.T. Ulrich, secretary, MLCMC

to W.C. Douglass,

28 April, 1:15 PM eastern time

Please provide details of destruction and update on search for survivors or bodies.

Maintain official silence.  Most important do not admit destruction of ML.

C.T. Ulrich,
secretary, MLCMC, NY

Kennecott's Seattle
headquarters was in the Central Building

W.C. Douglass 

to S.Birch, KCC, NY,

C. Earl, MLCMC, NY,

& B. Nieding, Seattle

Blizzard passed.  Search resumed.   Bodies of the two Japs, K. Sato, 54  & Jim Tanaka, 17  recovered.  Hospital exam shows death by trauma. Bodies to be shipped to
Juneau, Alaska, point of hire.  Relatives located and notified.

Bodies of Jeff Boyd and Darrell Everitt to be shipped to Montana.  Hospital exam shows
death by asphyxiation or trauma. Investigation reveals 100 level tunnel
explosion & collapse caused death. Relatives notified.

Search for  body of Frank Buckner, 28, continues. No relatives found.

ML  barrack, mess & rec obliterated and scattered over entire slide zone to McCarthy Creek.  Aerial tram system destroyed.  Investigation leads to likely
conclusion that  all three at ML never left barrack or mess. Blacksmith
shop crushed. Heat & power plant destroyed. Office buried. F.Buckner
mine reports retrieved from office intact. Upper tram terminal intact,
but wrecked. Jig-back tram to Marvelous level 600 destroyed.  800 and
600 level tunnels intact.  Blast destroyed stopes at levels 50, 100 &
200.  Marvelous workings caved to surface. 

Investigation performed by W.A.Richelsen.  Concl: Engr. Buckner at fault. Improperly placed blast set off stope collapse and ridge avalanche.   Main adit at ML re-opened
for recovery operations. CRNW not running. RR ops estimated to resume in three days as per F.A. Hanson.

W.C. Douglass,

W A Richelsen
Richelsen, head engineer in the 1920s & early 1930s; last Kennecott
superintendent from 1935 until the end of 1938.   --Richelsen

John Steele, KCC, NY 

to   W.C.Douglass, Kennecott

Confidential for

No admission of
fault due to Kennecott engineer. Alter report to read:
accidental blast
caused death to five at ML.

Do not record destruction of ML camp.

Do not record recovery operations.

Do not record bonus pd to terminated ML employees. Main ofc to cover deficit.

John Steele,

general counsel,
The Daniel Guggenheim castle at Long Island

Bert Nieding 

to E.T. Stannard, KCC

& C. Earl, MLCC,  NY,

4 May, 1927

Arrived by plane to Cordova and train to Kennecott 3 May.

Power restored to Bonanza & Jumbo.  Tram restored to Jumbo only.       

Body of Frank Buckner recovered. Search ended.   No relatives found.

Buckner determined eligible for military burial at Sitka, Alaska.

All five bodies to be shipped out on special funeral train no. 71, non-stop, Cordova.

Marvelous crew dismissed with bonus and admonition. Will leave with funeral train.

ML and Marvelous permanently closed. Investigation closed.  Word of accident successfully altered as follows: 

Accident in ML stope.  Five killed by asphyxiation.

Destruction of ML not mentioned. Mining operations at Jumbo to resume on 5 May. Bonanza operations to resume when tram is rebuilt.

Bert Nieding,  Manager

train at MDB
A mixed freight and passenger train at the Miles Glacer, CRNW MP 49, possibly enroute to Cordova from Kennecott. 

Continue with
Chapter 52, "Frank Buckner Special No. 71"

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