The Yellow Jacket Mine Misfortune

Wander Past Camp Windigo
Wander Past Camp Windigo
July 22, 2016
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Mounting Tension in Mount Rainier Maryland
July 29, 2016

The Yellow Jacket Mine Misfortune

Yellow Jacket Mine Misfortune

In the 1800s, dreams of striking it rich sent hundreds of people running to the coasts.  Mining towns were set up to host the wide variety of travelers who packed up everything they had and risked their lives at a chance for success.  Many trekked their families across the country, away from everything they knew, in an attempt to make a better way for themselves.  Unfortunately, in Gold Hill, Nevada one fateful night, those families could do nothing but stand back and watch as the men they loved struggled for their lives in a blazing fire.

The 1800s boom was hosted by companies like Comstock who employed between five hundred and a thousand men to work around the clock in the underground system of tunnels.  Working long shifts in grueling conditions, workers faced injury and death from illness, dehydration, pollution, cave ins and fire.  As they dug and blasted, they spent their days endlessly moving ore and dirt from underneath the Nevada deserts.

(images:kenlund/flickr) Yellow Jacket Mine Misfortune

(images:kenlund/flickr)
Yellow Jacket Mine Remnants

One such operation was located in Gold Hill, Nevada as the Yellow Jacket Mine.  The operation ran successfully for a time, pumping out many series of expensive finds.  Unfortunately, on April 7, 1869, a mining fire took the lives of over thirty men as they burned to death in what is known as the worst mining disaster in state history.  The miners’ families, friends, and coworkers watched, standing outside in the dark as firefighters struggled to enter the mines.

The fire started at the eight hundred foot level.  The fire had been discovered, but in the days before cell phones and the internet, news did not travel fast enough to save the lives of the fated men.  They had already been lowered into the mines before the news had reached the town.  Unable to reach the men, firefighters were called but barely able to make it into the entrances before they were pushed back from the violent flames and fumes.

Timbers collapsed on the men below and gases raged as the fire soared throughout the tunnels.  The source of the fire was later credited to an unattended lantern that, mixed with the gases below the surface, created a fire so big and so intense that it burned for days.  The fires persisted and despite eventually sealing the tunnels off, remained hot for several years.  No evacuation was possible, no rescues were made, and no bodies were ever recovered.

Just three weeks later, miners were back at it.  The promise of riches called out to the men who began again to break their backs in search of treasure.  Unfortunately, instead of treasure, the men began to have constant issues with machinery and equipment.  They reported seeing apparitions and hearing the voices of their deceased mining brothers.  Many reported feeling ill or having an overwhelming feeling of dread when they entered the mines.

(images:nevadatourism/flickr) Gold Hill Hotel and Saloon

(images:nevadatourism/flickr)
Gold Hill Hotel and Saloon

Nearby, the Gold Hill Hotel was a common place for the miners and their families to stay.  It included a miner’s changing cabin that was often used as a break room.  It was also very probably the last place miners visited before their gruesome deaths that terrible night.

Hotel visitors report having the apparition of an extra card player at their gambling tables and seeing doors, chairs or drinks being pushed or moved.  They report smelling a strong perfume without being able to locate the source or hearing footsteps outside their rooms.  Many have heard talking or furniture moving, thinking it was the room next door when they were the only guest at the time.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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