The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

Oct. 15, 2008

Oct. 15, 2008 – The Bump Survivors

Thursday, October 23, 1958 at 8:06 P.M. there was a loud bang that sent people rushing outside to see what had happened. People immediately thought of the mines and the men who were working at that time. As fate would have it there had been a “Bump” in the mines which was to change the lives of the people of Springhill forever.

The Bump - an earthquake like movement of the earth had taken place in the # 2 mine which was the deepest mine in North America . The entrance to the mine was 500 feet above sea level with the slope pitching until it reaches 14,300 feet from the pithead or roughly 2.7miles. The bump the shook the earth with such a force that one man was thrown into the air.

This being the 50 th Anniversary of the “Bump” I wanted to pay tribute to the miners who were fortunate to make it out alive. Some of these men had to dig their way out with their bare hands, others helped one another to keep up their spirits, and others did what they could for those who were trapped and had no way of getting out.

At the time of the bump there were 174 miners working in the # 2 mine. As soon as it was known what had happened barefaced miners, draegermen and others went into action, going down in the mines to try to rescue their fellow miners. That night there were total of 70 miners brought out of the mines alive and one known dead. By October 25 eighty one miners had been rescued. Those rescued were Charles Alderson, Layton Amon, Ben Bacon, Ray Best, Charles Bird, William Blenkhorn, Carlyle Boran, Dick Boss, Donald Boyce, Frank Brown, James Cameron, Robert Carter, William Casey, Dave Churchill, Myles Churchill, Charles Corkum, William Cormier, Herbert Cox, Harold Cummings, Joseph R. Cummings, Peter Cummings, Ira Davis, Henry Dykens, Glenn Embree, Ira Farnell, Donald Ferguson, Carman Fraser, Kenneth Gilbert, Douglas Godfrey, George Goldrich, Fred Hahnen, George Hayden, Eddie Hayes, Stan Henwood, Maurice Herrett, Joseph Hollaway Sr, Percy Hunter, Archie Legere, George McCallum, J.B. McArthur, John McDonald, Percy McDonald, Charles McKay, Russell McLellan, , James McManaman, Joseph McManaman, Edgar McMasters, Hilton McNutt, Herbert McPhee, John Martin, Leon Melanson, Gerald Millard, William C. Miller, Ray Murphy, Clyde Murray Jr, James Murray, John Newman, Arthur Noiles, George Pederson, William Phillips, Carl Porter, Herbert Porter, James Pyke, Hedley Rector, Nelson Rector, John Scott, Steve Sertich, Kenneth Smith, Ronald Smith, Harvey Somers, Bedford Spence, James Spence, Bill Stevenson Frank Tibbetts, William Totten, Henry Welsh, Archie White, Alex Wilson and Alfred Wood.

The draegermen and barefaced miners worked tirelessly around the clock to reach each and every miner who was trapped. Some of the barefaced miners (like my father) would go down in the mines, be overcome with the gas, taken to the hospital and as soon as they were released would be right back at the mines. After the third time they were not allowed to go in the mines any more.

As the days passed hope was running out for those left in the mines. Then on October 29 th a miracle occurred when 12 miners, who had been trapped for 61/2 days, heard taping on a pipe and hollered for help. They were given something to drink through the tube and were later brought to the surface. These twelve were: Harold Brine, Hugh Guthrie, Joe Holloway Jr, Wilfred Hunter, Gorley Kempt, Larry Leadbetter, Eldred Lowther, Bowman Maddison, Theodore Michniack, Levi Milley, Caleb Rushton and John Scott. Caleb Rushton was credited with keeping the men’s spirits up by singing hymns and praying.

The finding of those twelve men alive raised the spirits of the people of Springhill and brought hope that there would be more survivors. Then at 5:30 A.M. on November 1, 1958 another miracle took place with the locating of another 7 men. These men were: Garnet Clarke, Frank Hunter, Douglas Jewkes, Byron Martin, Herb Pepperdine, Maurice Ruddick and Currie Smith. As was the case with Caleb Rushton, Maurice Ruddick also kept the men’s’ spirits up by singing songs.

Those seven men were the last to be brought to the surface alive bringing the total of survivors to 100.

The joyful reunion of these men with their family and friends was followed by the sadness for their fellow miners and friends who had lost their lives on that fateful day.

Next week: a Tribute to those who lost their lives in the Bump.