Showing posts with label 1958. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1958. Show all posts

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Springhill Mine Disaster - October 23, 1958

It was a terrible day in the long history of mining in Nova Scotia.

I was 11 years old when it happened. My Uncle Purly [BARCLAY] had traveled down to Jordan Falls (a small village near Shelburne) where my family and myself lived (the house was the Barclay home from the late 1880s). He had come from Halifax to do some bear hunting, and had heard about the "Springhill Bump" on the car radio.

That was the first thing he said as he entered the house - "Have you heard what has happened at Springhill?", he asked. We knew what he meant that there had probably been a mining accident, even though we lived on the opposite shore from Springhill.

We turned on the radio to the local station in Bridgewater, and listed to the coverage that night and through the next days until all had been found alive - 100 miners. Seventy-four others had been killed.

To get an idea of what the town of Springhill and the people looked like in 1958 as they went through the disaster, there is a virtual photo display at the Nova Scotia called the "Men in the Mines: A History of Mining Activity in Nova Scotia 1720-1992" <>;
an account by the Canadian Press at <> and a website <> that holds the account by Dr. Arnold Burden called "The Bump: Burial or Nightmare" - a personal account of a doctor in the town who went down in the mine to help those who were injured. Also on the same website <> is a "Miners' Honour Roll" - an account of the 424 miners who have been killed in the mines of Springhill since 1881, both men and boys.

Believe it or not, there is talk of opening mines again in Springhill - but I think that is highly unlikely. Today, there is a museum where the mine used to be that you can go in, and a display which shows mining conditions in 1958 and the rescue efforts.

By the way, on the next day, my uncle did shoot a brown bear in the woods at the back of the house. I looked out and saw it but never went near it - I just thought that the whole scene was just too horrible.