In 1891 the Blue Canyon Coal Mine opened at the southern end of Lake Whatcom. The coal was bituminous, of lower grade and generally less desirable than harder anthracite coals, but the mine was able to land a contract to supply coal for the United States Pacific Fleet. Coal mining has never been a particularly safe profession, as lung disease and mining accident statistics indicate, but it was proportionately less safe in 1895 than it is today, and like so many mines of that day, Blue Canyon became the site of a mining disaster.. On April 8, 1895, a massive explosion rocked the mine, killing 23 miners in what remains Washington State’s worst industrial accident, to date.
The Blue Canyon mine closed in 1917, producing only 250,000 tons of coal in its 26 year history.
The following accounts of the disaster were both published in the Pullman, Washington Herald on April 13, 1895, five days after the disaster.