Monday, October 15, 2012

Mine Spooks

Waino Nyland came to Butte as a child from Finland in the early 1900s. He remembered that the first disaster his family experienced occurred when a lever broke on a hoisting engine as a cage was taking four men down into the mines. The cage fell twenty-two hundred feet, killing the riders. The bodies of the four men, one of them Nyland’s next-door neighbor, came out of the wreckage in pieces. The men’s spirits, according to Nyland, still haunt the mine. If you look down the shaft when the time is right on certain days, four pairs of lonely eyes stare back at you, looking up from the bottom of their deep, dark grave. Most don’t like to talk about ghosts, but all Butte miners have heard unexplained noises deep in the mines, had shovels or buckets disappear, and know about the phantom ring. Every hoisting engineer has answered a ring for a hoist-up where no one is working. If he sends a cage down in answer to the ring, it invariably comes back empty. And all miners know to watch out for the white goat on Anaconda Hill. He can turn up anywhere, because all Butte mines are connected, and sneak up from behind. If you are too close to the edge of a shaft, he’ll butt you right in.

From Montana Moments: History on the Go

1 comment:

  1. The spirits who haunt the mines are the tommy knockers, no relation to Steven King's. They are mischevious, taking lunch items, tools and supplies, ringing for cages, and letting themselves be glimpsed in the darkness out of the corner of an eye. But they also warn them what believe of impending danger, with sharp raps on the rock or an air line. They have been part of my life since I was 8 & kept me safe for a lot of years underground, including more than a few close calls.