Close call at Clonan

Moriah Reflections

In December 1948 or January 1949, the following close call took place at Clonan Shaft, across from the Open Pit #21 Mine, in Mineville.

There were two shafts there, one for the man cage and the other for the ore bucket. The following men were in the man cage, after the day’s work: Tom Callahan, foreman, Big George (?), Lester Daby, Bucky Hart, Albert Mayer and Warren “Bugs” Williams.

As the man cage was being hoisted up, and was nearing the top, the pinion in the hoist broke and the cage started to descend rapidly.

Bugs Williams told the men to “pick your feet up.” This was so that the sudden hard landing would not cause their legs and hips to be injured. The cage was narrow enough so that the men pressed their arms against the walls and lifted their feet off the floor.

As the cage descended, the hoist man was pulling on the brake, a little at a time, to slow the cage up. The hoist man was successful at slowing and finally stopping the cage just before it hit the bottom.

The men rushed out and, not having any other way out, they began to walk towards the Harmony Shaft hoist area, at the Don B building, about a mile away. It took them approximately 30 to 45 minutes to get there and by the time they got to this point, Tom Callahan was the only man that had a light working on his safety hat. They waited a short time for the man cage to descend to pick them up.

The next day, as the men were descending into Clonan Shaft by the ore bucket, there was a sudden stop. The ice had built up over night onto an area on the sides of the shaft wall from the water leaking from the water-drilled ore. This prevented the bucket to go down any further. Suddenly, the ice gave way and the bucket started with a jerk, and one of the men said “here we go again.” But they continued down to their destination without any further mishap. By the end of the shift, the man cage had been repaired, so the men were able to ascend safely to the surface in that.

Joan Daby is the retired town of Moriah historian. This story was related by her husband, Lester Daby.

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