Skip to Content

Sydney Mines, NS Mine Cars Runaway, Dec 1938

NOVA SCOTIA MINE DISASTER INQUIRY OPENS -- SEEK REASON FOR BREAKING STEEL TOWLINE.

DEATH TOLL IN SYDNEY MINES DISASTER PLACED AT SIXTEEN.

2 TOWN COUNCILLORS ARE AMONG VICTIMS.

By Arthur Andrew.
(Canadian Press Staff Writer.)
Sydney Mines, N.S., Dec. 7 -- (CP) -- A committee of miners and officials planned today to descend Princess Colliery and trace the death-dealing trail of a runaway "man-rake" that killed 16 men yesterday. Their visit is the first step in an investigation seeking the reason the string of cars broke loose, spreading death and injury.
The evidence they gather, added to the testimony of the more than 200 men who survived the disaster, will be placed before an inestigating commissioner. Hon. Michael Dwyer, minister of mines, will attend the probe into the worst accident in the last 21 years of coal mining in Cape Breton.
The tragedy occurred as miners were going down into the pit. The "rake," a string of 26 cars bearing about 250 men to work, was on its second trip of the morning. Just after it started down the two-mile slope the haulage rope broke.
The first the men knew of their danger was a sudden jerk. Then the cars picked up speed as they headed down into the black depths under the Sydney harbor. Most of the miners jumped to safety. Others clung to the runaway string and either jumped too late or died in the tangle of wreckage at the bottom of the incline.
Last night more than 1,000 men gathered in a theatre here and were assured an investigation would be held. THey heard survivors tell of the wild ride down the rake road. Prime Minister Mackenzie King's telegram of sympathy was read and miners bowed their heads in two minutes' silence for their comrades.
STEVE McLEAN, who jumped from the cars before they ended in a pile of smashed wood, twisted metal and broken bodies, stood before the meeting with tears streaming down his cheeks.
After the rake ran away McLEAN said he felt the "rope jerk" and sensed something was wrong.
"I told the men alongside of me in the box that the trips is gone," he said.
Before he jumped he noticed other miners
"crawling over the tops of boxes like flies." Some were flung back against the cars; others met death in their efforts to escape.
ELeven of the victims were married. More than 20 children were fatherless after the accident. Sydney Mines lost two town councillors, WILLIAM MacDONALD and DONALD McPHEE, as well as 14 other citizens.
Stories were told afterward of escapes from death by a turn of fate. James Muise forgot his lunch can. He returned to the wash house to get it and missed the fatal trip.
Ellis Taylor went to the pit early and rode to the east face an hour before the death-dealing "rake" started. He was at work when he heard the crash.
It wasn't Peter McNeil's first experience with a runaway trip. He was riding the "rake" a year ago to the day when three comrades were killed in Princess mines. Yesterday he missed death by inches. He rode the trip half-way down and lived to tell about it because he knew "when to jump."

DEAD:
Sydney Mines, N.S., Dec. 6. -- (CP) -- Following is the list of dead and injured in a mine disaster at the Princess colliery here today:
JAMES ASPIRALK, 58.
GEORGE BROWN, 42.
DONALD BROWN, 54.
EDWARD DAWES, 35.
DICK DIXON, 35.
WILLIAM B. MacDONALD, 60.
WILLIAM J. MacDONALD, 52, Sydney Mines town councillor.
MURDOCK MacGREGOR, 60.
MALCOLM MacPHEE, 48.
DONALD McPHEE, 55.
JOSEPH MAJOR, 58.
DICK MORRISON, 62.
JOSEPH MORRISON, 33.
JOHN ROLLINS, 55.
JACK TAYLOR, 58.
CARMEN NOVELLO, 42.
Critically Injured:
JOHN CAMPBELL.
MELVIN MacLEOD.
NORMAN MacLEOD.

Lethbridge Herald Alberta Canada 1938-12-07

Comments

16 killed in runaway rake

As it turned out more would die of their injuries. My father was one of the injured and he died the next day, the 17th victim.

Also killed that day was

Also killed that day was William A luffman



article | by Dr. Radut