The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

November 17, 2010

Springhillers Aid in Rescue at Moose River

Springhill Proud of Part in Rescue Played By Its Heroic Residents:

April 24, 1936, All Nova Scotia and particularly Springhill, is proud that several of her sons figured in the Moose River Gold Mine rescue.

     Unheralded by the press, one miner, James Rushton, played a prominent part in the rescue of Alfred Scadding.

     It was he who got down on his hands and knees and had Scadding loaded on his back, then started crawling through the steep and difficult winding tunnel, over 120 feet, with his human freight where it was placed on a stretcher.

     Scadding spoke twice during the journey, one time saying:”Oh” and: “How are you making it, boy?”

Secured Body

Immediately upon completing this task, Rushton along with Duncan McNeil, another Springhill miner, went right back into the mine where they assisted in bringing out the body of Herman Magill.

     It was also learned that Rushton was asked by Mrs. Robertson early Wednesday morning if he would go into the mine and ascertain for her what he thought chances for rescue were, which he did.

     Before leaving for Springhill, Rushton was sent for by Dr. Robertson and Scadding at the emergency hospital.

Talks Little

It was with difficulty he was persuaded to accede to this request.  Rushton is a quiet unassuming fellow and will talk little of the incident and shuns publicity.

     He is a member of the Springhill Fire Dept. and is one of the most fearless men in the department.

     Other Springhill men who figured in the rescue efforts were Arthur McPherson, son of Mr. and Mrs. S.A. McPherson, station agent at Springhill Junction. He is one of the engineers at the Cariboo mine and assisted in finding the spot for the diamond drill.  Billy Bell, now of diamond drill fame, is also a Springhill boy, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Bell.

April 1936:  Meet Billy Bell, the operator of the diamond drill that sank a 103-foot shaft last Saturday through which food was lowered to Dr. Robertson and Scadding, keeping the two alive until they were rescued today.

     Billy said this is the first time in his experience as a drill operator that he had used a drill for life-saving.

     The drill was set up Thursday and after working continuously with his co-operator and their two helpers, for 52 hours, a shaft 103 feet five inches came out at the level where Dr. Robertson, Alfred Scadding and Herman Magill waited rescue.  Magill died Monday.

     Billy modestly dismissed the fact he struck the narrow level the first time without an accurate plan of the mine, as “luck”.

     Billy Bell is the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Bell, of Springhill, who are proud of the part their son played in the Moose River disaster.

     “Thank God they’re out!”  These words shouted through telephones, through streets and towns of the province and Dominion, told appreciation of the stupendous rescue, of the two Toronto men from their tomb at Moose River.

September 1936:  McNutt Home Lost in Fire

     The farm home of Lem McNutt was totally destroyed by fire Tuesday morning at 11:45.  The fire was first notices on the roof near the chimney by Mrs. Lester Smith, who sounded the alarm.  Only a small quantity of the furniture was saved.

     Mr. McNutt was on his way home when the whistles blew, and learned with horror that it was his own home.  The fire department made a quick run to the scene only to find that Mr. McNutt lived a fair distance from a hydrant, beyond the town limits.  They could do little to assist him.

     Mrs. McNutt and her seven months old baby were in the house at the time and Mr. McNutt’s mother, 84 years of age, was at the barn feeding calves.  Neither of them noticed the fire until warned by neighbors, who acted quickly to save some of the furniture.  The main house measured 26x24 with a kitchen 16x25 feet.  It was finished on the inside and had been the home of Mr. McNutt practically all his life.

     Partial insurance was carried, but the loss is a heavy and irreparable one for Mr. and Mrs. McNutt who have, during the last year or so, been working hard to build up a milk route in town.