The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

October 12th, 2016

Apr. 10, 1945Springhill RecordA.C. Fullerton Superannuated After 63 Years of Faithful Service

     Mr. A.C. Fullerton was retired, March 1, 1945, by the Cumberland Railway and Coal Company after 57 years’ continuous service, which with five previous years worked at the Chignecto Mine, rounded out 63 years of service in the Cumberland Coal Industry.  Rated an excellent practical man, he was for many years, by reason of his experience and practical knowledge, a valued consultant and on numerous occasions was loaned to carry out special projects in his line of work.

     Now in his 83 year, Mr. Fullerton, who was born in Lower Horton, N.S., Sept. 24, 1862, came to Springhill as a young man in 1882 to work on the Railway Section.  His job, under George Brown, Section boss, being finished, he was laid off in 1883 and went to work in Chignecto; returning to Springhill after five years. In November 1887, he began his long and continuous service here, working for a year as shiftman and carpenter; then another year as Fireman at the Boiler Shed.  From 1889 to 1892 he worked at the coal face in No. 2 Mine.  In that year he was appointed Night Examiner, which position he held for a year, when he was placed on construction work in the mine until 1906 – years filled with work, good years and not so good, years rich in experience which would stand him in good stead in time to come, and which would mark him as a man to be trusted with important task. 

     In that year, 1906, he was loaned by the local management to the C.P.R. and sent to Montreal to open a tunnel through quicksand.  The work had broken down and the crew had quit.  Mr. Fullerton took with him three men: Bill Roney and “Big” and “Little” Bill Harris.  The little group from Springhill went to work.  The first two shifts went well.  On the third shift there was a bit of trouble from the quicksand, but no one was injured.  From then on the work was carried through to completion, the men returning to Springhill in 1907.  From 1907 to 1924, Mr. Fullerton worked at laying the principal roads and turns in the mines, including the first 3-inch rails and crossings, at the 1300 Bottom West Slope.

     A really noteworthy piece of work was the re-modelling of No. 3 Bankhead. After completion by a reputable contractor from outside, it had to be admitted the lay-out was a failure.  Mr. Fullerton was asked to report on it and was then told to go ahead and “make it work.”  It may not be understood, generally, how complicated a system is involved in such a structure; the proper allowance of space in which to operate and the actual operations of bringing up and disposing of the coal.  In remodelling, Mr. Fullerton devised a new system of roads and frogs to time and co-ordinate the numerous tipples and the rotation of the boxes.  It is noteworthy that there were no further complaints. 

     In 1924 he was sent to Thorburn, N.S. to install the haulage system in the Thorburn Mine, the work being completed in five months.  Returning from Pictou County, he continued at construction work, taking a large part in nearly all major operations up to the time of his superannuation.

     Mr. Fullerton has an excellent memory and has seen many changes.  He was in the mine at the time of the Springhill Explosion, February 21, 1891.  The events of the day are indelibly recorded in his memory and vivid as when they occurred.  Only two men survive who were with him in the mine at that time.  They are William Lowther and John Tabor

     With his “buddy” Charlie Hart, they had finished their shift, except for one pillar.  It was the noon hour, Hart had started cutting and loading, Mr. Fullerton glanced at his watch. “Twenty to one,” he said. Hart was standing motionless.  Fullerton reached for his pick, but his arm was nerveless and his blow never made contact for in that instant there came the terrific blast and the awful noise and rush of air, and all the dread that followed.  They were 800, leading to the Stony Level.  In another chute were coal diggers, Cas McLellan, Henry Daniels, Robert Jewkes and John Angus Matheson.

     Fullerton and Hart started for the Shields’ Shaft which would bring them to the Bankhead.  They came to where Jack and Fred Tabor worked; also Jack Anderson, Gil Anderson, George Tabor and William Lowther on the other side at the chute run.  A boss William Lormier was with them.  (Later this group came up the shaft.)  They asked the two if any were outside.  Would they go back and see?  They would.  They went back and got Rob Borman and young Rector (killed many years later in a mine accident at River Hebert), also the chute loader and driver and started them up to where the four coal diggers were located.  This group of ten went west and came out at the Brundage Cupola.  It was very bad at No. 1 seam.  Smoke was coming up the incline and they were all but overcome. The fan was stopped for fifteen minutes until they came through.  All the men on Stony Level were killed 47 in number, 11 east of the section survived and 10 to the west. 

     Safely through Mr. Fullerton came back to the Pit Head by horse and together with William Reece and Corey Weatherbee went down in the first rake.  They worked until six o’clock, taking up dead and injured, until they were called out, when it was believed there could be no more living in the mine.  Going back once more, Mr. Fullerton found the body of his brother-in-law, Clifford Ripley.

     It is recalled that the mine horses suffered as well.  At one place they came upon a horse lying across the roadway.  They believed he was alive and rolled him over.  He got to his feet and Corey Weatherbee led him away to a place of safety. 

     And so, Mr. Fullerton, with all his experiences and wealth of memories has earned a rest; and many friends will be wishing good health in which to enjoy it.


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