No.26 Mine Explosion: The Root Cause



A Miner’s ghost before me stood
And asked if I would write
Something in a style of verse
To tell his story right.

I told him yes I’ll do it now
While it’s fresh within my mind.
Just tell me what you want to say
And this is how it rhymed.

We went to work the midnight shift;
We went down on the cages;
We rode on in the motor road
To earn our daily wages.

We climbed aboard the arch deep rake
Then on to 12 South wall.
We shifted in the roof supports
And caused the gob to fall.

We loaded all conveyors
High with bonus coal;
Another slice along the face
Would help us reach our goal.

Don’t say amen to rumors
That we caused our own demise
By fouling up the monitors
To help production rise.

Oh No! Twas something more severe
That brought about our end
A danger that was caused each day
Which we did not comprehend.

Ever since the machines were found
To brush the roadway space;
The gob side packs were left unfilled.
And sent air through the waste.

The roadside packs behind us
Leaked away good air.
But no one seemed to realize
The awful danger there.

If full ventilation pressure
Had been coursed along the face.
The firedamp gas would have remained
Safely back within the waste.

The gas moved out onto the face
And drifted to the top
Yet nothing really happened
‘Till the shearer struck a rock.

Then came a fiery circle
When the shearer struck a stone
Oh God! The wall is all aflame.
Never more shall we go home.

This message to our brothers all
Before it is too late.
Make sure the ventilation
Comes through the face end gate.

Don’t let good air stray through the waste
To push out firedamp gas
For sure as hell when it moves out,
A spark will cause a blast.

So hope and pray that never more
Will such dangers line up right
To take away twelve miners
Just as it did tonight.

Source: “Joe Nugent, Inspector of Mines, Ret’d,” an interview with his grandson, Don Nugent, 1996.  Cape Breton Magazine, Issue 70, p71.

One response to “No.26 Mine Explosion: The Root Cause”

  1. Bob Dawe says:

    Authentic …………… written by a miner, a man who knew the mine, the dangers and the truth. Cape Breton needs more like this – in rhyme or prose …

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