The Gold Mine Trail, in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, is a beautiful trail that’s full of nature and wildlife. This three mile trail starts at the Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center and loops back around to end in the same location. This path takes you near the ruins of the old Maryland Gold Mine where mysterious things have happened.
During the civil war, a union soldier was stationed near Great Falls on the Maryland side of the Potomac River by the Virginia/Maryland border. He noticed something gleaming in the water. After the war, he returned to mine the area. As a result, the Maryland Mine was one of the largest mines that were opened up.
The mine stayed open until 1908. A series of unexplained events took place a couple years prior, which temporarily shut down the mine. It was later reopened due to the increase in the price of gold. It closed down for good in the 1930’s.
Tommyknockers are believed to be the spirits of miners who lost their lives while mining. These spirits can either be helpful or malevolent. It’s said that, if you’re underground in a mine shaft and you hear the knock of a tommyknocker, then you should leave immediately. They will often do this to warn miners of a cave in.
They can also make working in a mine extremely dangerous. If you personally offend them in some way, they’ve been known to pelt a person with rocks or shake an occupied ladder. Typical poltergeist activity.
Something happened in 1906 that would forever change the peaceful atmosphere of this mine. After setting the explosives for the next blast in the mine, a group of miners retreated to a small shed like building, just outside the entrance to the mine. Apparently, they decided to take a booze break, before detonating the explosives.
Witnesses at the time say that, when the men entered this building, one of them set down a bundle of explosives on a bench. Another miner carelessly put his head lantern, with a burning candle, on the bench next to the explosives. When the miners saw the lit fuse, they all took off running. The explosion destroyed the building, but everyone lived except for one man, Charles Eglin.
After this unfortunate event took place, strange things started to happen. The miners started hearing footsteps on the gravel behind them, only to turn around and noone was there. Mysterious knocks on doors were met with emptiness. There was also a report of a horse, who worked at the mine, that refused to enter the property. It just went wild whenever anyone would try to get it to go in.
Perhaps the most spine chilling story, was that of a night watchman working at the mine. He claimed that he saw “a ghostie-looking man with eyes of fire and a tail ten feet long” climbing out of the mine shaft. This figure became known as the tommyknocker of the Maryland Mine.
The night watchman quit his job that night and the foreman never found anyone who would take his place. Shortly after this the mine was closed.
Speculation arose about what actually happened that night at the mine. How did everyone get out, leaving Charles as the only one to die? Did they really retreat, just to have a drink, or was something more sinister going on? As the talk abounded, so did the paranormal activity at the mine.
Perhaps the miners had been playing a prank that went too far. This might be an explanation for the hauntings that took place following the explosion. Maybe Charles wanted a little revenge. No one will ever know.
The Maryland Mine is now left in ruins. Ruins that you can still see if you take the Gold Mine Trail. Even if you go alone, you might not be the only one there.