Neil Rosenberg tells the rather interesting story about how this song came to be. Jack Kingston had had considerable success with “Springhill Mine Explosion,” the song he had written about the 1956 Springhill disaster, and he quite understandably figured that he should write another song about the 1958 disaster. However, he was under contract to Kapp Records, the same company for which Clifton recorded “Springhill Disaster.” Kapp didn’t want two songs about the same event for fear that one would draw sales away from the other. In appreciation of Kingston’s concession, Kapp gave Kingston the Canadian rights to the Clifton song. And since most of the royalties resulted from Canadian airplay, this meant that the song actually resulted in very little money for the miners’ relief fund. Kingston didn’t wind up recording this song until 1971, when it appeared on an album together with his 1956 Springhill song.
Rosenberg, Neil V. 2000. “The Springhill Mine Disaster Songs: Class, Memory, and Persistence in Canadian Folksong”. In Northeast Folklore: Essays in Honor of Edward D. Ives, edited by P. MacDougall and D. Taylor, 153-87. Orono, ME: University of Maine Press & Maine Folklife Center.
It was in the year nineteen fifty-eight, October twenty-third,
From Springhill, Nova Scotia, disaster was the word.
Sorrow hit that stricken town as it had two years before
When the Springhill mine explosion took place in Colliery Four.
But this time it was different; much worse is what they said,
And many of the miners they expected would be dead.
The bump had caused destruction deep down in Colliery Two.
Some miners saved their own lives by digging their way through.
But many of the miners were buried deep below.
Still hope was not abandoned though digging it was slow;
Six days went by of fears and fright—no sign of life was found;
But then a miracle happened thirteen thousand feet underground.
Twelve more alive, the good news came—hard to believe but true.
God had cared and prayers had spared and hope became renewed.
The draegermen kept working hard with hopes more were alive;
Still buried deep in Colliery Two, still missing were fifty-five.
Then more good news came from below—seven more alive this time.
Some more prayers had been answered, some more men would survive.
Its sorrow to those with loved ones lost, but credit for bravery due
For the miners’ lives the draegermen saved—the miracle at Colliery Two.
Source: O’Donnell’s And Now the Fields are Green, 144-145.