Continuing our road trip through New Mexico, we came to the town of Santa Fe. We stopped and spent the night after walking around the downtown area (yes, it was hot!)  So many of the houses and buildings are in the pueblo/Spanish style – I supposed there are zoning and neighborhood rules about architecture that require that houses look that way, but it was interesting to see. 

As we walked around the downtown area, I saw this piece of art hanging on the the outside of a building. I thought it was interesting so I shot it. I think, however, that the skull is not real. If it is a real one, the poor animal certainly seems to have been somewhat deformed. Regardless, I thought it was an interesting visual. 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1956, a coal-mine fire killed 262 workers in Marcinelle, Belgium, on this day in 1956. This highly publicized disaster was the worst ever in a Belgian mine and led to many policy changes.

The disaster itself was typical of coal-mine tragedies. A fire broke out in the coalface underground and spread to all levels of the mine, trapping the miners. With the families of the miners waiting above ground at the scene, it was not until August 23—more than two weeks later—that rescue workers could reach the deepest level of the mine. Reportedly they said, “tutti cadaveri” immediately, which is Italian for “all corpses.”

The rescue workers were speaking Italian because the majority of workers at the Le Bois du Cazier mine were Italian. At the time, Belgium was experiencing a labor shortage and had made agreements with Italy to trade work visas for coal. The tragic fire resulted in 136 Italian workers losing their lives; the immigration agreement between the two countries was terminated immediately.

Belgium also called a conference on safety in coal mines in the aftermath of the disaster. In September 1956, the Mines Safety Commission was established. It was charged with monitoring safety procedures and developing new regulations. The country’s prompt response to the disaster led to much improved safety in Belgian and other European mines.

Years later, an Italian movie called Marcinelle was produced about the disaster. The mining complex at Marcinelle also became the Museum of Industry after the mine was permanently shut down. One part of the museum is a memorial to those workers who lost their lives.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the cat who holds the world record for the longest fall that survived is named Andy. He survived a fall from the 16th floor of an apartment building (around 200 feet) and lived to meow about it.  


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