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Tank's Poetry
united states mine rescue association
Mine Disasters in
the United States


Mining Music

West Virginia Mining Disaster
by Jean Ritchie

See video

Saxsewell No 8 Mine Inundation, May 6, 1968

[Verse 1]
Oh say did you see him, it was early this morning
He passed all your houses on his way to the coal
He was tall, he was slender, and his dark eyes so tender
His occupation was mining, West Virginia his home

[Verse 2]
It was just before twelve, I was feeding the children
Ben Mosley came running to bring us the news
Number eight is all flooded, many men are in danger
And we don't know their number, but we fear they're all doomed

[Verse 3]
So I picked up the baby and I left all the others
To comfort each other and to pray for their own
There's Tommy, fourteen, and there's John not much younger
Their own time soon will be coming to go down the black hole

[Verse 4]
And what will I say to his poor little children
And what will I tell his dear mother at home
And what will I say to my heart that's clear broken
To my heart that's clear broken if my baby is gone

[Instrumental break]

[Verse 5]
Now if I had the money to do more than just feed them
I'd give them good learning, the best could be found
So when they growed up they'd be checkers and weighers
And not spend their life digging in the dark underground

[Verse 6]
Say did you see him, it was early this morning
He passed all your houses on his way to the coal
He was tall, he was slender, and his dark eyes so tender
His occupation was mining, West Virginia his home

Note:  The lyrics above differ slightly from what scolls by in the video.  These can also be found at https://lyrics.az/jean-ritchie/-/west-virginia-mine-disaster.html.



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