The Darkest Hour

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On February 27, 1943, an explosion at Smith Mine #3 in Washoe, Montana killed 74 men—the worst coal mining disaster in Montana’s history. This is the story of the miners, the heroes in the rescue operation, and the communities that were brought close to extinction by the disaster.

The 2nd edition of The Darkest Hour: A Comprehensive Account of the Smith Mine Disaster of 1943 tells the tale of the worst mine accident in the history of Montana. It packs a lot of fact and heartbreak in its 42 pages of text and pictures. Of the 77 who went into the mine that day, only three came out alive.

The focus of the book is the people: the miners who died that day, the few survivors that made it out, the heroes of the rescue operation, and the communities devastated by what happened. At its peak, thousands of people lived in that valley. Bearcreek and Washoe never recovered, having a combined population of about 100 today. Only a few scattered homes remain from Stringtown, New Caledonia, Chickentown, International, and Scotch Coulee.

The Darkest Hour includes a list of the victims, a list of the 50 worst coal mining disasters in U.S. history, photos, a map of the mine, and more.

If you are interested in selling this book in your bookstore, you can get it directly from the publisher (Proseyr Publishing) or through standard distribution channels.

Table of Contents

  • Smith Mine MapDedication from the 1st Edition
  • Dedication from the 2nd Edition
  • Introduction to the 2nd Edition
  • Foreword
  • The Disaster Site
  • Mining in the 1940’s
  • The People of Bearcreek Valley
  • The Morning Was Serene
  • Even “Brownie” Was There
  • Premonition?
  • Number Three
  • First Came the Wind
  • The Power of the Explosion
  • The Influx of Help
  • Side By Side
  • Help For the Living
  • The Grim Night Caravans
  • The Remarkable Families
  • “Soldiers on the Home Front”
  • The Aftermath
  • Placing the Blame
  • The 74 Who Died
  • The Children Speak
  • A Letter to the Servicemen
  • Three Alive
  • Once a Miner Always a Miner
  • Into Hell and Back
  • The Worst Mining Disasters
  • Epilogue

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