Monthly Archives: March 2011

Coal Mine Terminology

The Appalachian coal fields are rich in lore, legend and infamy. Here are some common terms used from the hey-day of Appalachian Coal Mines.

    Afterdamp- Toxic fumes that occur after an explosion within a mine. Residual gases often include: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, often hydrogen sulfide and other poisonous substances.
    Blackdamp- Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, a combination of suffocating gases found in mines.
    Coke- A product produced by burning off volatile elements in coal. Coke was shipped to steel and iron mills.
    Company Store- A general store or mercantile where goods were sold to employees at mining camps.
    Coal Dock- Small mines sent truck loads of coal to the trainyard. The dock was used so trucks could unload their coal into the train cars.
    Coal Dust- Flammable particles of coal created by blasting and general mining. Coal dust often caused many catastrophic explosions when ignited from fireshot or open flame laterns.
    Fireshot or Shot- Black powder- When mine walls were cut (a.k.a. undercut) miners would then drill holes into the wall. The openings would be stuffed with black powder and detonated. The explosion blasted out new coal.
    Firedamp- Methane gas. This highly explosive gas is often hidden in pockets when mining.
    Lantern- Kerosene lamps were often taken into the mines when no electricity was present.

A complete list of these terms can be found at the House of Horror.


Ghost Trains in America

Trains were once the most used commercial transportation in America. It is no puzzle that there are countless tales and stories surrounding this part of our history.

Newark Central Station (New Jersey) has a tale surrounding a hobo that excited a group of passengers at the station one night, years ago. He continued exclaiming “it” was coming for him to everyone. The stationmaster grew tired and tried to drag him away, when, an invisible train roared into the station. The stationmaster reported hearing the screeching wheels and felt the air off the engine. Suddenly, the vagrant disappeared and the invisible train pulled out.

In 1891, a passenger train suddenly derailed in North Carolina, on its route to Asheville. The tragedy left 22 dead and is still hailed as the worst train accident in North Carolina history. Today, occasional reports surface that visitors in the area have watched a phantom portrayal of this historic event. Some are so desperate they have flagged down other cars to help them rescue the screaming passengers trapped within the wreckage. Yet, no wreckage is ever located.

Think your area has no train folklore? Ask a local historian and you’re certain to find a wealth of fascinating and seemingly new tales.

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