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Park City's Worst Disaster Inspired Acts of Heroism From Common Men
Will Bagley
Published: 07/14/2002 Edition: Final Section: Utah Page: B2

At 11:20 p.m. on July 16, 1902, several tons of explosives stored deep in the Daly West Mine exploded and rocked the earth beneath Park City. The blast killed a dozen miners outright, including two men working a mile away in the Ontario Mine.

Deadly gas flooded the lower levels of both mines as eight survivors climbed 1,200 feet to safety, while gas overcame four men who tumbled from escape ladders to their deaths.               

It was 2 a.m. before word of the disaster reached Park City, but their brother miners immediately rushed to try to rescue any survivors. The Park Record reported that plenty of "brave, noble men" crowded at the top of the Daly West shaft, "anxious to risk their lives in an effort to save any from the deadly gas."              

One of the unsung heroes of Park City's worst mine disaster, Daniel J. Gallivan, will be reburied beside his wife this afternoon at 2 p.m., high above the Avenues in the Mount Calvary Cemetery in Salt Lake City.  

Born at Ivesdale, Ill., in December 1876, Dan was the son of emigrants, and like many young Irish Americans (a few of them progenitors of Utah's most prominent families), he set out to make his fortune in the West. By 1898 he was working at the Silver King Mine, where he became a "top car man." Gallivan was a Third Ward firefighter and helped arrange Park City's St. Patrick's Day parade. For a time he apparently operated one of the mining camp's 27 saloons.               

On that grim July night in 1902, Gallivan made at least three descents into the gas-choked pit. After one trip he was hauled to the top unconscious, but on recovering he insisted on returning to try to save John McLaughlin, one of the fallen rescuers. The mine foreman refused to let his men back into the shaft, but after a near riot Gallivan led a rescue party to McLaughlin, who died before reaching the surface.               

"Greater love hath no man than this," observed the Record, "that he lay down his life for his friend."               

Gallivan survived, but three other "poor, heroic, brave and noble boys," Richard Dillon, George Richardson and John Eckstrom, died in the rescue attempt, their "glorious manhood sacrificed on the altar of humanity and brotherly love." In all, the disaster killed 34 men and led the Legislature to outlaw the storage of explosives underground.               

Three years later, Daniel Gallivan married Frances Wilson at St. Mary's Catholic Church. Her sister Jennie was the wife of mining magnate Thomas Kearns, but Gallivan did not impress his wealthy in-laws, and he did not follow well-established Utah traditions of nepotism to land a cushy job. Instead he pursued his career as a hard-rock miner and working stiff, taking a job as a railroad clerk and serving briefly as a plainclothes Salt Lake City police officer. That job ended when he got in a fight with a superior on the day the new police station on First South was dedicated. The cause of the altercation is not clear, but it took place after patrolmen arrested leaders of a newsboys strike. Gallivan went back to work in the Park City mines.               

Frances Gallivan died at Holy Cross Hospital on Jan. 27, 1921, and her sister Jennie assumed care of the three children, Marian, Jane, and John W., from their widowed father.                

Dan Gallivan died in Los Angeles in 1929, but on his deathbed he gave his son Jack the ruby ring he received for his heroic efforts in the Daly West mine disaster.

Publisher Emeritus Jack Gallivan, Dan Gallivan's son, began working for The Salt Lake Tribune in 1937, long before historian Will Bagley showed up.

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