Disaster struck Standardville on February 6,
1930 when a gas explosion erupted in the mine. While 29 men were working,
a pocket of carbon monoxide gas was ignited probably from sparks from a
cutting machine, killing 20 of the miners and three members of a rescue
crew. After the explosion, which occurred about 9:00 p.m., nine miners
were able to escape. The three members of the rescue crew died when they
were crushed during a cave-in.
Though the explosion dealt a blow to the mine
and the community, it continued to thrive and by 1932, more than 2,000
tons daily went over the modern steel tipple.
Though the mine was still producing
heavily, it was struggling financially in 1939 and was unable to meet its
payroll in January. To keep the mine from closing the 265 miners
voted unanimously to work only for food to
save the mine from closing. However, the mine was closed on April 5, 1939.
The company was then sold under foreclosure on November 3, 1939, and
reorganized as Standard Coal, Incorporated (of Nevada). Shipments resumed
on December 1, 1939.
the Spring Canyon Coal Company was operating the Standard mine, along with
the Spring Canyon mine, and the Royal mine. But, two years later, in 1950,
the Standard Coal Company mine was closed, followed by the stores, the
school, and the hospital as miners moved away. However, the mine office
remained open and two families continued to live in the town until the
peak, Standardville supported almost 600 residents.
Latuda - Located about seven miles west of Helper
is the old townsite of Latuda. The settlement began when
Francisco Latuda and Charles Picco, both of
Colorado, bought approximately 326 acres of coal lands on August
1, 1917 and began development of the Liberty Mine and formed the Liberty
Fuel company. The first shipment of coal was sent from a temporary tipple
in January, 1918.
Initially, the settlement that grew up
around the mine was comprised of only a few houses, with the rest of the
town made up of tents. However, new structures began to replace the tents
in 1918 and the camp was known as Liberty. When a post office was built,
the name was changed to Latuda, in honor of the mine owner.
In 1920, a mine office was built of stone,
which also housed a hotel for visiting executives on its top floor, as
well as a doctor's office. A school
building was constructed in 1921, which was also used for meetings and
social functions. Additional homes were built to house the miners in
Coal production increased steadily as the company
continued to make improvements and in 1926, was one of the first mines to
utilize mechanical loading inside the mine.