The Worst Tragedy in Every State

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Source: Legends of America

31. New Mexico
> Tragedy: Dawson Coal Mine Explosion
> Date: October 22, 1913
> Total fatalities: 263
> Other event considered: Pancho Villa Raid

Mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and few were more aware of it than the residents of New Mexico in and around the mining town of Dawson in the 1920s and 30s. On the afternoon of October 22, a massive explosion of coal dust within the mine instantly killed several hundred miners, making it one of the worst of its kind in U.S. history. Within a decade, two more major disasters, at least one of which was also caused by exploding coal dust, would occur in the mines surrounding Dawson, putting the total loss of life at close to 400. The American mining industry would not make proper changes to address the dangers of coal dust until the 1970s. Today, the town of Dawson has all vanished, leaving only a cemetery with iron crosses commemorating the lost miners.

Source: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

32. New York
> Tragedy: Sept. 11 Attacks
> Date: September 11, 2001
> Total fatalities: 2,996
> Other event considered: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

It was a clear Tuesday morning in New York City that would soon be remembered as the day of the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history. Financed by al-Qaeda, four planes intended for cross-country travel were hijacked and rerouted to different destinations. The first attack hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, followed by a second strike 17 minutes later on the south tower. The massive explosion and collapse of the World Trade Center covered the streets and surrounding buildings in ash and debris. A total of 2,763 people died on 9/11 in New York City, including hundreds of emergency personnel.

Source: National Maritime Museum, London

33. North Carolina
> Tragedy: SS Central America
> Date: Sept. 12, 1857
> Total fatalities: 425
> Other event considered: Rennert Railroad Crash Killed

The mail steamship S.S. Central America, bound for New York after leaving Havana, Cuba sank during a hurricane on Sept. 12,1857, about 160 miles off the North Carolina coast, taking 425 people to their death. Onboard was a trove of gold bars and gold coins, much of which was mined during the California gold rush. The failure of the gold to arrive at New York banks contributed to a brief financial crisis. Since the shipwreck was found in 1987, insurance and salvage companies have been in negotiations over who has rights to the gold.

Source: Michigan, North Dakota

34. North Dakota
> Tragedy: Michigan ND Train Wreck
> Date: August 9, 1945
> Total fatalities: 34
> Other event considered: 1888 Schoolhouse Blizzard

Towards the end of the Second World War, demand for the Great Northern Railway was so great that it typically ran two trains on the same schedule. On August 9, 1945, the first train overheated and had to stop in Michigan, North Dakota. The second train was unable to stop before running into the first. The collision killed 34 people and injured over 300.

Most of those involved in the crash — and most of the fatalities — were military personnel returning to the U.S. after claiming victory in the European theater of World War II.

Source: Andrew Borgen / Flickr

35. Ohio
> Tragedy: Kent State Shootings
> Date: May 4, 1970
> Total fatalities: 4
> Other event considered: 1913 Flood

The divisiveness of the Vietnam War was brought into stark relief when the Ohio National Guard fired on Kent State University students demonstrating against the conflict, killing four people. The protests were sparked by President Nixon’s decision in late April to attack Cambodia, which the U.S. claimed was providing sanctuary for the Viet Cong. Protests on the Kent State campus escalated and the National Guard was called in. On May 4, the guardsmen fired shots at the demonstrators after they were told to disperse. Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman in his book “In the Ends of Power’’ claims the Kent State tragedy led to the Watergate debacle and the ultimate destruction of the Nixon presidency.