Posts Tagged ‘Mining’

The tale has been documented by Michael Norman and Beth Scott, in Historic Haunted America about a tunnel in western Massachusetts. The tunnel is the Hoosac Tunnel in North Adams.

It began construction in 1851 and wasn’t finished unti 1874, for 24 years workers chipped away at the rocks and around 200 men lost their lives by explosions, fires and drowning in what became known as the bloody pit. It seems that many of those were accidental but one may have been more sinister.

Nitroglycerin was an explosive introduced in 1865 to the miners and used for the first time at the Hoosac Tunnel. 20th March, 1865, three men planted the nitroglycerin and ran for the safety bunker, they were Ned Brinkman, Billy Nash and Ringo Kelly. Kelly had prematurely set the charges and it buried both of his colleagues under a heavy pile of rocks.

After the incident Kelly disappeared and he was not seen again until 30th March, 1866 where his body was found two miles into the tunnel. His strangled corpse was at the spot Brinkman and Nash had been killed by the explosion. The Deputy Sheriff thought the murder had happened between midnight and 3am but no suspect was on the cards and his murder went unsolved.

The workers felt the spirits of Brinkman and Nash were the culprits and feared the area was cursed, they felt unhappy about having to go inside. The work slowed to the point that an investigation was called for. Paul Travers was a highly respected cavalry officer in the Union Army. He went into the tunnel with Mr Dunn, they went in at 9am and went to the spot where they heard what sounded like a man groaning in pain. They agreed that it did not sound like the wind.

It was a month later, 17th October 1868, when thirteen miners died in a gas explosion, the gas explosion blew apart one of the surfaces pumping stations. The debris filled the central shaft where the miners were working. It was the single worst disaster during the tunnels construction and a local reporter said that a miner, Mallory, was lowered down by a bucket and rope to search for survivors. He emerged almost unconscious, lifted back up, saying there was no hope. With no pumping station the 538-foot shaft filled with water and the bodies of some of the unfortunates began to surface from it. A year later the remaining men’s bodies were found on a raft that they had built trying to use it to float up on the water as it rose up.

All the time that they were missing the villagers spoke of vague shapes and the muffled wails of what the believed were the dead men. Workmen saw them carrying their picks and shovels through mist and also the snowy mountaintop. They left no footprints and only appeared briefly before they vanished. Once the last of the missing dead were located the strange sightings stopped.

That may have been the end of one tale but in 1872 another report came up about Dr Owens and James R McKinstrey who went into the tunnel. They went down the two miles down and halted to rest, the place was cold and dark, the only light was from their lamps. Both men heard a moan like someone in great pain. A dim light came down the tunnel and as it came closer the light took on a blue hue and looked more like the form of a human being with no head.

The strange light was so close it could have been touched but the men stood with gaping, open mouths and were most likely terrified. It eventually turned away and vanished, Owens was unable to come up with a rational explanation for the very thing they had witnessed.

16th Octobre, 1874, another bizarre event came up, a local hunter named Frank Webster vanished and three days later a search party found him stumbling around in shock, along the banks of the Deerfield River. His story was he had been ordered by strange voices to go into Hoosac Tunnel, when he did ghostly figures were walking around. Suddenly his rifle was seized from his hands, it was used to knock him him out around the back of the head and he woke up outside without the rifle and without any memory of leaving.

The first train went through on 9th February, 1875 and with its completion the stories still carried on. That fall a man named Mulvary, a fire tender, was driving a wagon load of firewood into it. He suddenly turned his cart around, whipped the horses flanks and was never heard of again. Three miles from there they did find the wagon and in 1977 a man named Impoco said he heard someone yell “Run, Joe, run!” as he was chipping ice from the tracks and there was a train coming. The voice alerted him and most likely saved his life.

The tunnel is very much in use today, the Boston and Maine railroad is very busy. It’s an impressive feat of engineering and visitors can talk to local old-timers who will recount the local tales.

Hoosic.jpg
By en:User:Acela2038 – en:Wikipedia, Public Domain, Link

 

Located in Jefferson County, Montana is a ghost town called Elkhorn. The town was rich in silver and during its peak period had a school, church, stores and brothels.

In 1893 the Fraternity Hall was built for social gatherings and is one of the best preserved buildings left there.

As the desire for silver decreased the town dwindled and a diphtheria attack from 1888-1889 resulted in a lot of deaths. Soon after the railroad service to Elkhorn was halted and a fraction of the inhabitants remained.

Now a few buildings are left standing but a number of the cabins have been reoccupied and refurbished.

7.50 am 21st December 1910, there was an underground explosion at the Hulton Bank Colliery No 3, in Lancashire. Lancashire is the North West of England and the place I call home (see my Pendle Post for more intriguing tales!)

On the day of the explosion there were around 900 workers on the site of five coal seams. 345 of those workers went to pit shaft three to work, four of those survived, one died immediately and one the next day. The two survivors from that were Joseph Stavely and William Davenport. One man died in the Arley Mine at pit 4 and a rescuer died in pit 3. This meant there were 344 fatalities from the disaster.

Which also leads into the reason I picked this one, Platt Lane in Westhoughton, Lancashire. The road passes close to where the miners died. Reports have come in that says that there are eyes in the hedges, miners walking along the road and an eerie mist that comes down even on the sunniest of days. There are however reports before the disaster that stated the noises of running horses would pass alongside people.

A short film on this can be located here – Link

There are reports of other haunted Colliers too.

Just across in the County of Yorkshire the Barnsley area suffered nine deaths in the 1850’s. The reports of their sightings continued until the 20th Century as the mine continued to be in operation.

Also in Yorkshire, Maltby had a report that two lads walking around the local quarry found a half-naked man drinking from a bottle of cider. The figure disappeared into the shaft, and one of the witnesses later learnt that a former miner with a drinking problem had been found dead in the area, at the slurry pit.

Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, has a slightly different legend around its pits. A tin mine shaft was named Roaring Shaft as bangs and thuds were heard from it. Not placing the matter in the hands of ghosts the noises were given to be made by Kobolds or Bucca.

Castleton in Derby had another problem in their pits; Odin Mine was supposedly traversed by Shuck. This phantom black hound might well have come in to play as the hunting hounds linked to the name of the Mine’s Norse god, Odin. Shuck appears to like travelling as he has also been reported at Matlock Bath area in Derbyshire too.

Down the road we used to have Cotgrave Colliery in Nottingham, around 1987 there was a report of a man dressed in black wearing a helmet who walked through the wall. The miner/stranger was said to have no face. Unfortunately the Colliery no longer stands and I haven’t found any other notes about it. Correct me if you have!