The following is one of many entries from the Phantoms Fill The Southern Skies book. I am producing it here from the original manuscript file for visitors to sample and see if they would be interested in the full text available on Amazon.
Please respect the copyright owners – Jeff Lawhead, J.S. Lawhead and 23 House Publishing – and do not reprint or reproduce any portion of this text on any monetized formats and without permission. Reproduction for hobbyist or academic interest (as well as “fair use”) is ok as long as sources are explicitly cited. Contact me at Meteo.Xavier@gmail.com for any permission inquiries regarding this or any other excerpt.
It is difficult to imagine the history of the Southern Appalachian Mountains without coming into images of the coal mining industries from the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. The United State experienced a huge industrial boon after the Civil War lead by machines hungry for coal. Early settlers found and noted many ripe veins of coal in the vast Southern mountain ranges. Many other minerals, like gold, talc and copper, were eventually discovered as well, and mining corporations were just as eager to get their hands on them, too… at any cost.
But life as a miner was almost no life at all, and the history of mining is as dark as the energy source they dug for. It was virtually a prison for the crime of being impoverished as many poor families sent their patriarchs to dig for money, and they wouldn’t go back home for months to years at a time. Many times, they never came back at all. A miner in the old days worked seven days a week, ate and slept in the filthy conditions he worked in and rested only when he needed his strength to mine some more. Safety regulations and workers’ rights wouldn’t be acknowledged for decades to come and management, at best, couldn’t be trusted. When you put all that together, you have a recipe for disaster as unfocused, weak and sloppy men make mistakes that cost lives.
A mine is just about the purest darkness there is in the mountains, and so nearly every abandoned one that can be found is rumored to be haunted from top to bottom with the souls of dead miners who never made it back out. One of those is known simply as The Cavern Near Plant #5 in Georgia, which has reports of several spirits wandering around the tunnels and surrounding hills.
One story recounts two mine workers who were working on a dozer very deep inside the mine. As they took a break, they saw a man coming towards them wearing a very different set of clothes than the rest of the men. He passed them and seemingly went about his business. The two workers did not recognize him and went to their supervisor to ask who he was. When they described him, the supervisor became pale with a wild look on his face. He knew the man they were describing… he had been crushed to death more than thirty years before.
Another rumor is that the deepest tunnel in the mine, one that had been closed off for years due to a cave-in, is haunted by the spirit of a worker who was killed when the rock came crashing down. Sounds of someone tapping against the rock from the inside reverberate throughout the tunnel walls and remind the men why even the bravest and toughest of them refuse to ever go down there.
A much stranger report happened outside The Cavern one night to a miner’s wife. This miner worked a shift so late that his lunch whistle went off at 2:00AM. His wife often got up with him and prepared his lunch, but this particular night he was in a hurry and accidentally left his lunch behind. His wife then drove up the mountain to deliver it to him, and as she got closer to the entrance, she started to feel very scared without knowing why… until she got to the top of the road, over the railroad tracks, and looked into the valley below. The entire area beneath her was enshrouded by a green mist that twisted, turned and warped itself. It looked like a large cluster of spirits.
The details of this particularly disturbing account end there, but it would beg the following questions – was that a congregation of those who had died inside the plant, or was it a different entity altogether that could be fueling the disturbances in the area? Ghosts roaming around the mountains are quite common occurrences in folklore, but to come across a whole shroud of them covering the entire lowland is a different story altogether that no good can come from.
Almost to illustrate this point was one more shocking report that nearly ended in disaster. One man was operating a dump truck while the other was operating a bulldozer until he hit a tunnel wall. As the other man came to help, they both saw the wall collapse and reveal a hidden cave behind it. They went inside to look and saw a number of crosses stuck into the ground. These were grave-sites, but for who? Why would someone bury a number of people inside the mine and then hide it behind a cavern wall?
But before they could look closer to find some clues for this mystery, the bulldozer behind them started up on its own and came after them. One of the men rushed onto it to turn it off, but it refused to turn off. The other man was frozen in fear and just barely managed to get out of the way. The two got outside the grave-site and watched the bulldozer plow through the crosses and into the rear wall, causing the entire hidden cave to collapse. Whatever was inside there did not want to be discovered and was willing to kill just so it could remain locked away from the world.
Whether any of these reports connect to reveal a very dark presence inside the mine is up for speculation, but not conclusion. Some things in history are probably better left undiscovered, and if stories alluding to the true depth of the mining tragedies in the South are as ghastly as these, we may not want to tread any further.
Images used in this post do not belong to me or 23 House and are not part of the original manuscript. They were pulled from Google Images or Snappy Goat and only serve as graphical decoration. They are not being used for any monetizing purposes whatsoever.