The Granduc Mine Disaster – Background

The Granduc Mine project was designed to drive an 11-mile tunnel through the mountain below the Le Duc glacier. The operation was located near the British Columbia – Alaska border, some thirty miles north of Stewart, B.C. The object of the tunnel was to provide access to move mining equipment to a large, low-grade copper deposit.

At 10:16 a.m. on February 18, 1965 a massive avalanche of snow and ice wiped out the camp and covered the portal of the tunnel. Forty men were reported missing.

Rescue efforts on site and from B. C. and Alaska were hampered by fog, snow and 50 to 60 mph winds.

Twenty-six men lost their lives

 

Ballad of the Granduc Mine Disaster

 

In a land far north and west, there’s a mountain capped with white

That looks out on the waters in the early morning light

Her crest is sharp and rugged and her sides are straight and steep

She’s the last home for some miners who disturbed her winter sleep

 

Some say the mountain trembled as she warned them in her way

That she couldn’t hold the load if they drilled her roots away

But no one wants to listen with all that ore down deep

So they kept on driving tunnel, just hoping that she’d sleep

 

Ninety-four men strode out of camp that February morn

To work their shift in that far land so bleak, cold and forlorn

Laughing and joking and telling lies and thinking mostly of home

And what they’d do with their paychecks on that next trip into town

 

Some men went to the tunnel to spend the day underground

Under a mile of mountain where the copper ore was found

Others worked on the rocky slope and in the camp below

Not thinking of the danger in that pile of ice and snow

 

There was fifty thousand tons of white death on the run

Hastened on its downward flight by the early morning sun

It caught the trees and boulders and took them into tow

And buried them on the flanks of the valley far below

 

It swept away the buildings and smashed them in its wrath

And then the fatal blanket covered all within its path

Fifteen men that worked the slope found nowhere they could hide

And in the storm and fury nine helpless men had died

 

The men that were not buried blessed their fate to be alive

And joined as one to search the ruin, that others might survive

They probed and poked and shoveled through the piles of snow and rock

Like robots in the wind and fog, they worked around the clock

 

Their signal to the outside world was strong in its demand

We need your help in any way to search this hostile land

Bring us your tools and bring us men and bring them all with haste

Our comrades lie beneath our feet amid this sea of waste

 

They brought in dogs and dozers to seek the missing men

All the way from Stewart and the town of Ketchikan

The Army and the Coast Guard joined ranks to earn their pay

While the Mounties and the State Police brought help without delay

 

But the forces that control our fate had set the final plan

And little could be altered by the toil of mortal man

The fury of a storm came down to sweep the land below

And tamed their frantic efforts with a wall of wind and snow

 

It took four months of searching to find the last poor soul

But long before they’d made the count to set the final toll

Twenty-six men had passed beyond the life they held so dear

And took their place as memories in the hearts of those who care

 

There was a final judgment in a most official way

It told of strange conditions that spawned the fateful day

A special kind of winter had set the scene that night

And could have been predicted if someone had the sight

 

So now the tale is history and dimming with the years

And man keeps driving tunnel seldom mindful of these fears

Cause its mankind’s quest for riches that keeps him in the search

And makes him risk his chances with the forces of the earth.

 

They saw the light of morning

Then the skyline turned to gray

The snow came down with a mighty sound

And swept their world away

 

Guy Allen

June, 2010

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