Lincoln County Photos

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This Page: Kemmerer, Mahlon S. Kemmerer, Patrick J. Quealy.

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Table of Contents
About This Site

Kemmerer, 1908

Kemmerer, county seat of Lincoln County, was founded in 1897 by Patrick J. Quealy (1857-1930) with the formation of the Kemmerer Coal Company.

Mahlon S. Kemmerer

The coal company and the town were named after Quealy's financial backer, Pennsylvania coal magnate Mahlon S. Kemmerer. The town was established as an "independent town"; that is, a town in which lots were sold rather than leased from the coal company. This permitted independent businesses to be established. When founded, the town was also served by electricity provided by the company-owned Frontier Supply Company. The electrity was generated with a used $1,150.00 generator acquired in Utah.

Mahlon S. Kemmerer (1843-1925) received his start at age 19 when he was employed by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Comnpany. He participated in the survey of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad as an assistant engineer. He then became the engineer and assistant superintendent of the Upper Lehigh Coal Company. From there, in partnership with others, Kemmerer became a commission coal dealer and devloped ownership interests in various coal and iron companies in Pennsylvania and Virginia. He was also president of the Wyoming and Missouri River Railroad which served coal mines in the northeastern Black Hills section of Wyoming. The site of Kemmerer's estate in Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania, is now a park.

Kemmerer's partner, Quealy, vice-president of the coal company, was originally from Ireland. In Wyoming, Quealy and his wife became active in Democratic Party politics and in St. Patrick's Church. The coal company donated land for the church. One of Quealy's sons was named after Kemmerer. In contrast, Mahlon Kemmerer was a Republican.

Kemmerer Mine No. 1, 1910

Although, the opening of the Kemmerer mines, constituted the major impetus for growth in the area, some mining in the area dates back to the opening of mines by the Union Pacific Coal Co. in 1881 and the construction of the Oregon Short Line Railroad from Granger to Oregon, discussed elsewhere.

Kemmerer Mine, undated.

As noted with regard to the discussion of Cumberland, coal in the area was discovered during Fremont's Second expedition in 1843.

Pit mouth, tipple and boiler house, Mine No. 4, Susie, Wyo., 1912

On June 20, 1912, an explosion at the No. 4 Mine, owned by the Kemmerer Coal Co., killed 6. Mining has always been dangerous. On June 30, 1903, 169 were killed at Hanna, Wyo. An explosion at a mine in Monongah, W. Virginia in 1907, killed 362 men and boys and resulted in improved mine safty laws. Nevertheless, fatalities continued. Prior to 1910, when Congress formed the Bureau of Mines, fatalities exceeded 2,000 annually.

21 Gun Salute, August 14, 1923, Mine Disaster

On August 14, 1923, an explosion at the Frontier Mine owned by the Kemmerer Coal Company, killed 99. The explosion was caused when fumes were ignited when a miner's lamp was relit. The above photo is of the twenty-one gun salute given the miners buried in a mass grave. The funeral was conducted in the Triangle with clergy from all denominations participating. The Evanston Mormon Choir came. The bodies had earlier been laid out at the Odd Fellows Hall.

Portal, Frontier Mine, 1923. Photo by Jackson Studios

Thirteen months later Kemmerer No. 5 Mine was wracked by another explosion. Fortunately it was an "idle day" and only 51 men were in the mine. Headlines across the county read:

By The Associated Press. KEMMERER, Wyo., Sept. 17. – Rescue workers gave their opinion Wednesday night that the explosion in the Kemmerer Coal Company’s mine at Sublet, near here, Tuesday, took a toll on thirty-nine lives. No hope was held that any of the miners who were within the workings when the great blast occurred shortly before noon were alive. Twelve men escaped alive Tuesday night.
Twenty-two bodies of the victims are in Kemmerer morgues, while other bodies taken out of the mine property still are at Sublet. Some of the funerals will be held Thursday. In a number of cases, however, it has been impossible to identify the victims, some of whose bodies were so badly mutilated that embalming will be impossible.
Much time was spent Wednesday by the rescue workers in cleaning out the main entry ways, which were clogged with thousands of tons of rock after the explosion. The work was very slow.
The coal company had not made public a list of names of the men who were in the mine at the time of the explosion up to Wednesday night. Dr. F. Flinn, in charge of the United States Bureau of Mines rescue car here, declared Thursday nigh that rescue work was going forward as rapidly as possible. Two additional Bureau of Mines men from Salt Lake City reported to the car during the day and E. H. Denny, engineer from Denver, is hurrying here to aid the rescue work. Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 18 Sept 1924.

Blyth, Fargo and Hoskins Store, undated

The three story stone structure at the end of the street is the Kemmerer Hotel discussed on a subsequent page. The fenced area on the left before the hotel is the Triangle.

First National Bank, 1907

The Bank was established in 1900. President was P. J. Quealy. The Vice President was Thomas Sneddon, Superintendent of the Diamond Coal and Coke Company (see Diamondville). A second bank, the Kemmerer Savings Bank, was formed in 1909 with Asbury D. Hoskins as president. Hoskins was elected state treasurer in 1919. Hoskins was the manager of the Blyth-Fargo-Hoskins Company.

Upstairs over the bank are the law offices of Horace E. Christmas (1857-1918). Col. Christmas was born in Alton, England. He came to Wyoming from Michigan and practiced law in Rock Springs before coming to Kemmerer. Two of his sons, Horace Robert Christmas (1882-1979) and J. A. Christmas (1883-1963) followed in his footsteps. H. R. Christmas was a long term district judge and J. A. Christmas served as county attorney and prosecuting attorney.

Next page: Kemmerer continued, the Kemmerer Hotel.