Coal mine catastrophe

From our May 2012 issue

By Clifford Scott – White Rock, B.C.

In 1949-1950 I worked at the ABC Coal Mine in Drumheller, Alta. They had about 100 men working in the mine.

They had a shaft with a cage in it that took you down into the mine about 100-feet. The tipple was about 20-feet high. They took eight men down at a time.

All the miners got down and the first one-ton car of coal they pushed on the cage broke the cable right from the top and went straight down about 120-feet to the bottom.

Then, the cage jumped up 15-feet and the safety dogs grabbed the wooden guide and held the cage there. There were three steel wheels broken and the ton of coal was like slack coal dust.

When I drove the pony in the Drumheller coal mine, I was teaching a colt to pull coal for the miners.

I tried to be the first one in the cage to go down and also the first in the horse barn to get my pony and an empty coal car.

I always had eight miners so they could get to their work place to start mining, but this time I had a runaway pony. He took the bit in his teeth and I couldn’t hold him.

Luckily, one of the miners was an ex-horse driver and he took the lines. I put my foot on the rail track to stop the coal car from jackknifing, but by the time we got the pony stopped I had no miners left. They had all jumped out the back of my coal car on the go.