The Museum of Moab and the Grand County Historical Preservation Commission are sponsoring the event at the Grand Center at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27. David Vaughn will facilitate the night’s event and Kymberly Mele, the author of the book, "Disaster at Cane Creek," will be one of several speakers. Mele will also sign books before this event, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the same location. The book is a comprehensive account of the 1963 Cane Creek underground potash mine explosion.
A gathering has also been planned for the previous day, Aug. 26, at the Cane Creek Mine Explosion Monument at Intrepid Potash Company (current owners of the facility) west of Moab at 4 p.m. This will be a chance for many to gather near the mine site and see the Cane Creek Monument. For those who need a ride to the mine site they may contact Vaughn. The mine site is located at the end of Potash Road on Hwy. 279.
“This story, while tragic because of the men who lost their lives, also highlights the human drive for survival by the men who lived and the determination and camaraderie the mine rescuers had to the end,” said Mele.
The book has been described as “a story of courage, survival and tragedy” and as a riveting account of the devastating potash mine explosion that occurred Aug. 27, 1963, only hours after a miraculous mine rescue of two coal miners near Sheppton, Pennsylvania. Caught in the horrific explosion near Moab were 25 miners working the afternoon shift at Texas Gulf Sulphur’s new Cane Creek Potash Mine located on the banks of the Colorado River. “Not knowing if any of the men survived in one of the deepest shaft mines in North America, the blast triggered a full-on state and federal mine rescue operation,” said Mele.
“Unlike the many major motion pictures of the day filmed in this scenic area, this drama did not play out on the big screen but unfolded on a larger-than-life stage with all the twists, turns and heart-pounding perilous moments of a gripping action movie. In this true story, hardworking miners, persevering mine rescuers and family members endured extreme conditions and tragic heartbreak,” she said. “The disaster tore at the very fabric of a community, the mining industry and those intimately or remotely connected. Occurring during the iconic years of the early 1960s during the Kennedy administration, this is an unforgettable story especially for those who lived it.”
Mele, a resident of Price, is the daughter of one of the survivors of the Cane Creek Mine explosion and has also been associated with mining throughout her husband’s career in the industry. She is the president of her company, Mele Enterprises, and is a member of the Utah League of Writers. She has been a freelance writer, has done graphic arts work, produced and published newsletters for several companies, one being the International Society of Mine Safety Professionals. She has also written articles for Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association’s mining magazine, The Bulletin. Mele has also been a public speaker for youth groups and was a speaker at the 1996 National Mine Rescue Competition sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration in Las Vegas, as well as the Carbon County Mine Rescue Competition in Price, that same year.