The Place: Springhill, Nova Scotia
The Treasure: Mine Tour
We travelled up to Springhill to tour the mine that was the heart and soul of the town for years before a series of accidents forced it’s closure.
The museum part that you first walk in to has a great number of tools, newspaper articles and memorials that you really should take some time to go through. It’s fascinating to me that these are the things people worked with and did every day, in the conditions they did.
I don’t want to give too much away because that would spoil the tour itself, suffice to say that working conditions were a lot more cramped than you’ll see in the pictures.
The first picture is of the coal cars. Each man would write his number on the side of the car so they could be credited with how much they dug out – workers were paid by the ton. The logs were to help shore up the tunnels and as an early warning system. I won’t say how they were, you gotta take the tour to find out. 😉
The second picture is of the entrance to the mine. It’s oddly foreboding. You can’t help but put yourself in the shoes of the people that went down there every day – even though the part of the mine you tour is safe now, knowing what tragedies took place there it’s hard not to feel a little anxiety.
The last picture is of a rescue stretcher, to use the term loosely. The draggers (men trained to rescue injured and trapped workers were not trained in dealing with injuries. Just to get you on the stretcher and pulled out of there as soon as possible. After a collapse there was only enough room dug out to crawl down and put someone on and drag them out.
I was to the mine tour about 20 odd years ago and one thing stuck with me that I was looking forward to experiencing again and for Steph to experience. They show you how much light the miners that were trapped had to work with from their headlamps, and how it was with no light. Again I don’t want to give away too much about the tour but this part in particular, for some reason, has stuck with me for 20 years and it won’t be another 20 before we go again.
The Springhill mine is an important part of our culture and heritage and should be a lot more popular than it is. A lot of people know about it, but I don’t know anyone that’s been on the tour.
There’s so much to learn here. How they lived, what they wore, how the tragedies happened and the responses to it. You also get to learn about how valuable the mines were to the town and how they helped shape and reshape Springhill.
We try to encourage people to travel Nova Scotia and see the sights. We also try to keep things lighthearted and fun. The mine tour at Springhill is somewhat somber, but it also shows the wonderful side of the human spirit and how people come together in times of trouble.
Everyone we met that worked there was incredibly friendly. Springhill, to me, is a valuable and interesting part of our history – please, go tour the mine.
-John and Steph
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