Sixty years ago today, October 23rd, 1958, there was a bump in the Cumberland Mine No. 2 colliery, in Springhill Nova Scotia. A bump is a geological event, much like an underground earthquake, caused by the removal of the coal. Many miners were instantly crushed and killed, while others were trapped in the mine for days while bare-faced miners made every effort to rescue them. Miners arrived from other mines in the province to help. After five and a half days (the morning of Wednesday, October 29th) contact was established with a group of 12 survivors on the other side of a 160-foot (49 m) rockfall. A tunnel was dug and it broke through to the trapped miners in the small hours of the morning of Thursday, October 30th. On November 1st, another group of survivors was found. None were found alive after that; only the bodies of the dead were removed after November 1st. In total, there were 174 miners in No. 2 colliery at the time of the bump: 75 died, and 99 were trapped but then rescued.
In the aftermath of the bump, the Anglican Church of Canada responded with the formation of the Primates World Relief and Development Fund, which we still have with us today. It was formed one year after the bump to help surviving miners and the families that were left behind, many of whom suffered with significant financial trouble in the wake of the disaster.
While listening to the reports coming out of Springhill, Peggy Seager wrote “The Ballad of Springhill” about the disaster. There are several excellent versions of this song available on YouTube if you want to listen to it.