A Tragic Masterpiece: CF&I Incident Reports

Most people do not think of creativity or imagination when they think about the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Instead, CF&I generates images of dark tunnels with headlights beaming against stark walls of coal. These cartoonish, hand-drawn, accident reports – located at the Bessemer Historical Society – take us back to a time when ingenuity was valued and pride in one’s work was prevalent in even the harshest industries like coal mining.
Creativity and industrialism combine to produce these unique historical artifacts, which were created between 1940 and 1956. Each one is special in its own way and tells a story not only about the individual but also about the time period in which it was created. Some appear comedic whileothers illustrate precise detail. There are several hundred reports; however, only a handful of them contain drawings. They were used to provide a visual record of the accident as well as guidance on how to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Innovative both then and now, these accident reports blend the hazardous reality of coal mining with artistic aptitude and creative communication.

By Genevieve Ackley

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