Friday, October 14, 2011

The Tommyknockers

October 1824, deep in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania, two miners are working alone in a small shaft.
"Where's my hammer?" exclaims Henry.
"I don't know!" replies John.
Henry fires immediately back "c'mon I got lots of work to do yet!"
"Seriously, I haven't seen it" John snaps back at his co-worker.
"Well it didn't just get off and walk away!" Henry shouted back.

Suddenly a obvious knocking sound was heard coming from the other end of the shaft.
Knock, knock, knock!
As the knocking became louder and closer, dirt began to crumble onto the top of the miner's heads. The supporting timber beams began to splinter and bend as the weight of the above ground was forcefully coming down. The two men eagerly grabbed their tools and hoped to make a quick retreat. Unexpectedly and out of nowhere the two men spotted a green gnome creature go barreling right past them. The startled pair stood in amazement and disbelief at each other as the weight of the earth came collapsing upon them.

The Tommyknockers are a greenish gnome-like creature originating out of Cornish folklore. They are closely similar to Leprechauns, except they primarily occupy mines, often seen working side by side with the miners. Tales of their existence in Western Pennsylvania began in the 1820's. As more and more immigrants descended on the area, the popular myths and legends from the Mother countries became more prevalent. The Tommyknockers name is derived from the knocking sounds miners would often hear before a cave-in. Many believed these impish trolls were actually the spirits of previous miners who succumbed to the industry.

The Tommyknockers were known to be a very mischievous bunch. They would often play practical jokes on the miners, often times taking the food from the lunches, as well as hiding their tools. Many in the mining field believed theses strange gnomes possessed the powers to change your life, for the better or worse. In fact, in some parts of the country miners were so fearful of the Tommyknockers that mines were actually closing due to overwhelming anxieties.

The Tommyknockers were known to do tremendous deeds. They would do favors and bring fortunes to those who believed. They were also known to cause mayhem, injury and even death to those who refused to believe!
(Art by Sam Thiewes)

1 comment:

Kathy said...

That's interesting! I didn't know about Tommyknockers.

Great blog! I'm from Pennsylvania and you've given me ideas for interesting places to visit. Thanks!