Missoula author Doug Ammons will give a public presentation Saturday, Dec. 9, in Helena on the Speculator Mine disaster of 1917. Ammons recently published a book on the subject, titled "A Darkness Lit by Heroes."
The presentation is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Montana Historical Society, 225 N. Roberts.
"A Darkness Lit by Heroes" is the tale of the biggest hard rock mining accident in America. The book is based on 600 pages of eye-witness testimony that was lost for 90 years, hundreds of never before analyzed maps and correspondence, and the story is carefully recreated and intimately anchored into the historical facts. It is written as a novel from inside the miners’ experience with extensive use of the testimony, and puts readers directly into the working mine as a normal shift spiraled out of control.
As the story unfolds, the entire spectrum of humanity is seen in the responses of the rescuers, the miners, and their families. Men try everything they can to escape, and to help others, and two groups become trapped deep in the mine, facing an inhuman world of darkness and rock, pushed to the brink of survival.
The story shows when all that sustains us is gradually stripped away – our light, water, and even the air we breath – that something profoundly and beautifully human rises up out of the darkness. We call it courage, we call it will, we call it heroism. It is our love for each other and the bonds between us that light even the greatest darkness.
This is a story about the hearts of men, summed up in the epitaph of one young miner, for him and all those known and unknown who sacrificed to save others: “No greater love hath any man than that he shall lay down his life for his friend.”