Legend of the Tennessee Hollow Miners

(adapted to Coal Creek from story by Dalton Hooker, Quesnel, BC, Canada


During the Civil War, the Confederacy needed coal to fuel steam engines in the South.  They sent miners to Tennessee Hollow in the Coal Creek watershed to mine coal for the war effort.  Few people lived in Tennessee Hollow at that time and it was off the beaten path, so the miners could work without being interrupted by the war. 

In 1862, a cave-in occurred that trapped 28 of the Confederate miners underground.  While the other miners were trying to free them, word came that the Union army was advancing on East Tennessee.  Thinking that the trapped miners were probably dead, the other miners were ordered to abandon the mine.    

But the trapped miners were not dead.  Hour after hour went by as they awaited their rescue. The conditions were terrible.  It was pitch-black dark, dry and dusty deep under the mountain.  The men collected droplets of water that seeped down the walls of the mine in an attempt to satisfy their dying thirst. Days went by and still no rescue.  To stave off hunger, they ate rats, bugs, and eventually… their dead co-workers.

Despite their hopelessness, they scraped away at the rock and debris to try and dig their way out, confident that others would be digging from the surface as part of the rescue attempt.  They dug and they dug, day after day, frantically hoping to see daylight from the surface.  The days stretched into weeks and months.  The few men left alive lost track of time, and started losing their minds.

The survivors finally broke through, and made two surprising discoveries.  One: there was no search party.  The other miners had left before the Union army reached the area.  And two… all that time underground had affected their eyes.  Their eyeballs were all white, except for tiny black pupils.  And they could no longer tolerate sunlight. 

Being left for dead was bad enough.  Turning into some sort of white-eyed freak was too much.  They snapped.  In their rage they made a pact to hunt down every man who abandoned them in that old mine.  And soon after, mysterious instances of men being killed in the mountains around Coal Creek started.

The victims were usually found mauled, bloody, and torn.  The locals at first thought it was a bear or a cougar doing all the killing.  But, closer examination showed that the teeth marks on the bodies were from human teeth!!  One by one, those white-eyed freaks killed off every miner, and any other man they could find.   

You’re probably wondering what happened to those white-eyed miners.  They should all be gone by now due to old age.  Or at least that’s what everybody thought until a few weeks ago when an ATV rider was mauled up in Tennessee Hollow.  And on that dead man’s neck… human teeth marks!!!

As long as you’re in daylight or close to a fire, the light will scare ‘em away, but if you need to go into the dark…. beware of the white-eyed miners.

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