56 Counties: The Speculator Mine Disaster
The Speculator Mine Disaster, which took place in 1917 in Butte, is still the deadliest underground mine accident in American history. One hundred and sixty-eight men lost their lives when an oil-soaked cable was accidentally set on fire with a carbine lantern.
As with most stories about Montana, the events leading up to and following the incident are what make this a fascinating story. The labor strife that was already brewing in Butte was ratcheted up by this incident, leading to a visit from labor organizer Frank Little, who was murdered only a few months after the fire.
Furthermore, the way the Anaconda Company gained control of the newspaper business in Montana to make sure the public only got the company's side of the story draws some obvious parallels to much of what's happening today.