“Bone and Blood is the Price of Coal”

I doubt that Bono and U2 really have any kind of understanding about what they sing about…except maybe that they make an opportunistic buck from it. “Springhill Mining Disaster” is a song U2 have performed, but was written by a woman, named Peggy Seeger.

A miner’s life is a dark, dangerous one, carried out in the depths of the earth, far underground- and in the case of Nova Scotia miners, frequently in dank tunnels stretching miles beneath  the Atlantic Ocean. Sweat from the miner’s brow has often been mingled with blood.

Here in Nova Scotia, we remember (emotionally) today, the miners who perished 50 Years ago on this day.  The coal miners of Springhill, Nova Scotia were “in the pit”  on October 23rd, 1958 when the “bump” or underground seismic event occurred. the “Springhill Bump” as it is known,  was actually the most serious mining disaster in North America mining history.  Three shock waves, each resembling small earth quakes occurred.  Draegermen (rescue miners) and barefaced (no breathing apparatus) miners descended to attempt to rescue the trapped miners and encountered deadly gas.  Of the 174 miners working in the #4 Colliery on that day, 100 were trapped and later rescued, and 74 were killed. This mining disaster was the first major international news story to be covered by live television broadcasts, capturing the horror, despair and pain as families and miners waited on the surface for days and weeks in hopes of seeing the trapped miners rescued.   The controversy about the indifference and irresponsibility of the mining company persists to this day.

It was not the first mining disaster in springhill.  In 1891, an horrific explosion in the #1 and 2 Collieries killed 125 miners and injured many others.  A second Springhill mining explosion occured in 1956, killing 39 men. We should remember them all as  we flick a light switch or use any electrical appliance…it is, afterall,  the coal that such miners sweat and toil to obtain (at great risk to their health and lives) which fuels the hydorelectric plants and generates our power.


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