WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
EXPLOSION OF THE ESCALANTE OIL WELL
Wednesday, March 6, 1935
37° 2' 13.0" North Latitude, 113° 34' 33.7" West Longitude
37.037° North Latitude, 113.576° West Longitude
2,930 feet (890 meters) MSL
Enterprise Drive is about 1.7 miles south of Brigham Road on River Road.
For a closer view of the bowl, click here.
For a then and now view of the site, click here.
HISTORY[Note: There is some confusion between the labeling of the Escalante No. 1 and No. 2 oil wells.
Further work must be done to remove the contradictions on this website.
Five miles south of St. George on the evening of March 6, 1935, 70 to over 100 local townspeople gathered to watch
the shooting of the Arrowhead Petroleum Company's Escalante No. ? oil well unaware of impending danger.
The explosion occurred about 9:40 pm while six 10 foot long torpedoes, each loaded with nitroglycerin and
TNT and hanging from the derrick, were being lowered into the well. All told, 2,500 pounds of nitroglycerin
exploded and sent a shaft of fire into the night that was seen as far as 18 miles away. Ten people lost their
lives and more were injured.
Power from some high tension wires was turned off about 10:30 pm so it was safe to work on the site.
Ellis J. Pickett, an attorney, witnessed the tragedy from his motor car which was parked about 120 feet from the well. The force of the blast tore the top off of that car.
Memorial services the ten victims and funerals for four of the victims were held in the St. George Tabernacle at 2:00 pm on Friday, March 8, 1935.
Approximately 2,000 people attended. Businesses were closed so the whole town could mourn.
The funerals for Mabel Alsop, Lea Cottam, Ray Nelson, and Olive Snow were in that Tabernacle service.
Services for C.M. Flickinger were held graveside in St. George and Joseph Kitterman was sent to Lehi for burial.
The bodies of Charles Alsop, Joseph Empey, Billy Maloney, and Cail Nicholson were ever found.
This property is currently owned by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).
WCHS-01099 Photo of the Escalante oil derek south of St. George
WCHS-02492 Photo of people gathered in the St. George Tabernacle for the 3/8/1935 memorial service
WCHS-02524 Recent photo of the well explosion site
REFERENCESTen People Dead In Oil Well Explosion
Washington County News, March 7, 1935, Page 1
St. George, UT Oil Well Explosion, Mar 1935
Mansfield News Journal Ohio (AP), March 7, 1935
Instant Death to Ten People in Dixie Oil Well Explosion
Iron County Record, March 7, 1935
Various Salt Lake Telegram Articles, March 7, 1935
Various Salt Lake Tribune Articles, March 8, 1935
Probers Seeking Cause of Blast Which Killed 10
Chicago Daily Tribune, March 8, 1035, Page 18
Fights for Life
Salt Lake Tribune
St. George Pays Tribute to Blast Dead
Salt Lake Tribune, March 11, 1935
Funeral Services Held for Victims of Oil Well Blast Sunday; 2000 People Attend
Washington County News, March 14, 1935, Page 1
Ellen Raye Cottam Brown,
"The Wrong Car Came: an account of the oil well explosion south of St. George, [Utah]
which occurred on March 7, 1935" [Actually occured on March 6]
A 19-page book privately printed in 2003.
[Included in Pages 26-45 of Biographies and Autobiographies of Heber Charles
and Asineth Jarvis Cottam and Their Ancestors]
[Also included as Part I, pp. 9-28, of the Nelson document below]
Dixie's Darkest Day: March 6, 1935, the day that rocked southern Utah
St. George Magazine, March/April 1992, pp. 65-67
My World Exploded: One man remembers the great oil well disaster of 1935
by Grant Harris
St. George Magazine, March/April 1992, pp. 68-70
The Escalante Well Incident March 6, 1935
by Clark N. Nelson, Sr.
An overview and notes about the incident and its location