Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cripple Creek: Mamie R. Mine Ghosts

The Mamie R. Mine located near Cripple Creek; Colorado has a very unique history. Some believe this mine was shut down as a direct result of malicious tommyknockers. 

In a previous post here, I describe what mine tommyknockers (mine spirits) are and miner’s belief in them. 

What is unusual about the tommyknockers at the Mamie R. Mine is they were not the typical “knocker” that was helpful or at most mischievous. Instead, these knockers were evil in nature.

The Mamie R. Mine is considered one of the most haunted mines in the west. 

In addition to this haunted history the original Welsh, Cornish and Irish miners who worked in this mine were very superstitious. They believed that a series of cave-ins were caused by tommyknockers. 

The miners at the Mamie R. claimed to see and hear these knockers —using their hammers or talking in the distance. They felt these spirits were out for revenge. 

When heard, these knockers so terrified the miners they left the Mamie R. and refused to work there again. 

Legend states this is why the Mamie R. Mine was forced to close down operations but this is not accurate—at least not at the beginning.

The Mamie R. Mine after losing its’ original crews, lured less superstitious miners, that had the desire for wealth, into its tunnels. 

But soon after, unusual accidents started to happen. Two of these accidents resulted in the mine being haunted by the dead men's spirits. 

One day a miner by the name of Hank Bull heard a voice of what he thought was a small boy coming from a newly dug tunnel that was still unshored. (An unshored mine tunnel is one that has not been secured with boards to hold the ceiling in place.)

Bull headed down this tunnel—ignoring fellow miners' warnings—in search of what he thought must be a lost child.

After a few minutes, the miners heard Bull’s scream. As they rushed to the tunnel entrance, the unshored ceiling collapsed on Bull, killing him. The story of this accident spread quickly, and several miners left to work in “less dangerous mines.” 

This left the Mamie R. Mine with a minimal crew. The few miners who remained began to report hearing voices and whispers in areas where no one was. Several saw a dark shape pass them only to see it disappear as they watched.

Two Man Windlass
At this time, another eerie thing happened involving the mine’s windlass. (A windlass along with a rope is used to lift a bucket filled with ore, rocks and/or men out of the shaft.)

Attached to this windlass was a bell that would ring three times to alert the men above that the bucket was full and ready to come to the top. 

Many times this bell would ring, and the bucket was pulled up--only to find it empty.

Shortly after Hank Bulls' death, another accident occurred in November of 1894, that killed yet another miner. This accident involved the windlass. 

It was not uncommon for the bucket to fall when the ropes that secured it gave way, but tragically this time the bucket fell on a miner’s head crushing his skull. 

What perplexed the miners and their bosses about this accident was they could not find a logical reason why the bucket fell. The knot on the rope that held the bucket was still intact and tied tightly.

After this second accident, more specific sightings began to be reported. Hank Bull's spirit started to appear in the deepest parts of the mine. 

Several of the miners who had worked alongside him reported seeing him in this area. 

The miner who died when the windlass hit him was seen in the bucket. Miners operating the windlass spotted his crushed head appear over the top of the bucket, he was then seen stepping out of the bucket just to disappear. This strange sight was witnessed more than once.

In December of 1894, everything came to a head--literally. On Christmas Eve the mine flooded. 

So on Christmas day the miners were busy hauling out buckets of water. 

Three men were turning the windlass up top when suddenly it broke. But it did more than just break—it flew apart—pieces of it landed everywhere. 

When it broke, the heavy bucket fell back down into the mine, one of the three men became tangled in the rope that was now loose. This rope tightened so quickly around his neck it decapitated him.

This was the “last straw” for the miners that worked in the Mamie R. Mine. They were now all firm believers in the idea that the mine did indeed have malicious tommyknockers. 

Originally not superstitious, they now believed these knockers were responsible for the deaths of these three men. The miners left, and no other men would work in the Mamie R. Mine. In January of 1895, the mine shut down for good.

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