The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

October 22, 2008

Wed. Oct. 22, 2008 The Bump – Those who were lost

  1. “When you’re doing your bit down in Number Two pit,
    In that old bumpy hole in the ground;
    You work in suspense from the time you commence
    Till your shifts up, and you’re “homeward bound”.
    Folks are lucky, I say, who can work every day
    Where their roof is the heavens of blue;
    You have big stones instead, hanging over your head,
    When you work down in old Number Two.”

Fifty years ago tomorrow, Thursday Oct. 23, 1958, the people of Springhill were once again faced with tragedy. At preciously 8:06 P.M. on that fateful day the earth shook from the force of the “Bump” which had occurred at the 13,000 foot level of the No. 2 mines, trapping 174 men.

Barefaced miners, draegermen and officials immediately gathered at the mine and set a plan of action to get the men out. The men worked in shifts around the clock and by early next morning several men had been rescued with one known death. The first casualty brought to the surface was Harry Halliday.

The town doctors were at the scene and Dr. Arnold Burden went down in the mines and offered his help. Some people of the town waited at the pithead to hear information of their loved ones.

By Saturday the bodies of Edward Bobbie, Percy Bryan, Cecil Cole, Clyde Corkum, Hiram Hunter, Harold McNutt and Eldon Stevens had been recovered.

The rescue was slowed by the deadly gas and the rock that blocked the way. No machinery could be used in the mines because of the small space available so the men had to dig a way through the piles of rock with pick and shovels which made for a long process.

By Monday the casualties rose as the bodies of Gus Gillis, Isaac Holloway, Thomas Marshall, Donald “Dougal” McDonald, Edward McDonald, Clarence McLeod, Bernard Miller and William Turnbull were brought to the surface.

By Oct. 30 th ninety-three men had bee rescued, 31 were found dead and 50 were still missing Then the joyful realization that 12 men were alive after having been underground for 6 ½ days gave hope to the families. This was followed by another miracle two days later when another 7 were rescued.

In the meantime the bodies of Andrew Backa, Charles Burton, George Canning, Joseph Gerhardt, Harlan Henwood, Cecil Harrison, Warren Hyatt, John Jackson, Harold McDonald, Frank McKenzie, Varley McLeod, Jack Maddison, Carl Mooring, Harold Raper, Lester Reid, Wesley Reynolds, Charles Rose, William Smith and Holly Tabor were found. These names were added to by November 3 rd by Bliss Bourgeois, Phillip Ross, George Welch, Layton Reid, Percy Rector, Ralph Alyward, Harry Embree, Robert Perrin, Charles McLeod, Edwin McKinnon and Robert McLeod.

By now hope was running out for the 28 still remaining under ground but the miners vowed to keep digging until every last man was brought out of the mines. In the following days the bodies of Henry Brine, Hance Crowe, Harold Embree, Harry Fraser, Kenneth Goode, Chesley Harrison, Wylie Hunter, William Jewkes, Abby LeBlanc, Alfred Legere, Edward Livingstone, Arthur McDonald, Roy McFarlane, Edward McLeod, Frank McLeod, Fred Nicholson, Harry O’Brien, Sterling Porter, Joseph Reid, Ernest Rolfe, Robert Ross, St. Clair Ross, Percy Spence, William Stevenson, Monty Tabor, Raymond Tabor, Henry Teed and Carl White.

The last body to be removed from the mines was that of Fidele Allen on November 6, 1958.

With the recovery of all the bodies the No. 2 mines were closed, never to be opened again. With that the town of Springhill lost its main employer and many families moved away. The once bustling town was changed forever.

“Yes folks, I’ll tell you what, Number Two is some spot
For a fellow to spend all his days;
If I thought I would go to a worse place below,
Then believe me, I’d soon mend my ways.
When a Number Two guy bids this old world goodbye,
He should go straight to Heaven – that’s true;
For the going is tough and you get hell enough,
When you work down in old Number Two.”

Excerpts from the poem “When you work down in old Number Two” by Danny Boutilier.