Sixty years ago, at 8:06 p.m. on Oct. 23, 1958 there occurred a terrible bump in the mine which could be heard all over the town. “The Bump” occurred in the No. 2 Mine, the deepest mine on the North American Continent. 167 were working in the mines at the time of the bump.
The following is a poem written by Verna Jean Fisher about the Bump of ’58.
THE MINER AT THE MONUMENT
I saw the miner standing, by the monument of stone,
I heard him speaking softly, for he thought himself alone;
“And so they’re adding other names to the ones already here,
I knew them all, I knew them well”, he brushed away a tear.
“To me they were like brothers”, I saw his shoulder shake,
“The truest hearted buddies, who ever rode a rake.
Until I die I’ll not forget October twenty-third,
That ghastly night in ’58 when the big bump occurred.”
“I wasn’t on the shift with them, I wasn’t due ‘til ten,
Three hours more and I’d have been among the missing men.
The bump was like an earthquake, that’s the only word for it,
We knew the meaning all too well, our only thoughts, the pit!”
“But me, I had no time to think for I had work to do,
And in minutes was preparing to join the Draeger crew.
We didn’t mind the danger, we welcomed going down,
But how it was way down below, I’d never tell the town.”
“Eighty-one came up O.K., their faces pale and shocked,
But it was feared the ninety-three, beneath the ground were locked.
The wise shook their heads, and said, ‘All rescue hope is vain.’
No draeger men would heed them, but said, ‘Send us down again.’
“And on the sixth day came the news, which made it all worth while,
We know there’s twelve down there alive, the whole town wore a smile;
The barefaced miners dug like moles, they wore no shield ‘gainst gas,
But nothing mattered if they brought a miracle to pass.”
“Twelve of the men came up at last, the spark of life still there,
And Springhill knelt in thankfulness, for here was answered prayer.
A royal prince, who heard our news, felt wonderment and thrill,
And he must see, and speak to each, these marvels of Springhill.”
“The draeger men and barefaced chaps would not concede the fight,
Springhillers don’t leave buddies ‘til all hope fades from sight;
And then one day as barefaced men in rubble crawled about,
They heard some tappings, faint but sure, and yells of ‘Get us out’!”
“I can’t describe the feeling, ‘twas joy akin to pain,
Seven men alive in there, a miracle again;
How did they live? I can’t tell that, I guess God fanned the spark,
But this I know a brave man’s song made hope shine through the dark.”
“A strong man with the heart to sing while knowing death was near,
I’d say that made Maurice Ruddick, the ‘Man of any year”.
(And on this cold stone the names of brave men, numbering seventy-five)
Do we need another reason to keep Springhill alive?”
“Oh no! I can’t believe it, and ever I’ll maintain,
That other work and other skills will let her live again;
We owe it to these new carved names, to work with wit and will,
To give them what they needed most: a safe, secure Springhill.”
Pat Crowe is a member of the Springhill Heritage Group. To learn more or read past article of the Heritage Corner, visit www.springhillheritage.ca.