Smith Mine Project

The Smith Mine Project

A moment of history I discovered in the Fall of 2005

In the Fall of 2005 I traveled from the midwest to western Montana with a group of students as we traced the route of Lewis and Clark and met with  Native Americas along the way. We spent a bit of time in Red Lodge, Montana. One day we stopped on the side of the road near Bearcreek at a sign for Smith Mine. The mine was the site of the one of the worst mining disasters in the United States. On February 27, 1943, at approximately 9:37 a.m. an explosion roared through the mine killing 74 of 77 miners.  The sign has a quote from what two of the miners wrote to their families as they were dying trapped in the mine and this quote stayed with me. They wrote, " Walter & Johnny. Good-bye Wives and Daughters. We die an easy death Love from us both. Be good." From this I have created a series of works exploring the complexity of mining and the contrast to what is above the surface and what lies beneath.