10 Interesting Facts About the Tommyknocker Legend


The tommyknocker legend has been around for a very long time. When miners hear knocks inside of the mine, it’s usually an indication that there is going to be a cave-in and more times than not they are correct in their assumptions. Many miners believe that the knocks come from tommyknockers, who are said to be small men who wear mining outfits. They are believed to be the spirits of deceased miners who are there to help their fellow miners but they can also be very mischievous if disrespected.

Since mining is one of the oldest and most dangerous jobs around, the tommyknocker legend is most certainly a fear that many of these men have. Unfortunately many men been buried alive in mines all over the world; therefore the superstition of these little creatures remain very powerful and very real to this day. Let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about the tommyknocker legend.

10. The Legend Of Tommyknockers

Tommyknockers have been around for centuries – basically as long as mining has been around. These little guys have been spotted in mines all over the world for centuries and have been accused of both causing the deaths of many miners, as well as saving them.

Tommyknockers are said to be small creatures that live in the back of some mines and even underground, and the farther back you dig, the greater the chance that you could encounter one of these little guys. When miners would hear knocking sounds coming from deep inside of the mine, it would be a warning that there would be a cave-in, so the miners would take that warning and leave the location immediately.

When tommyknockers have been seen, it was reported that they are usually around two feet tall and they are often seen wearing miner’s clothing. They are said to look similar to a gnome and are often perceived as green in color. They are also thought to be deceased miners who died tragically in the mines. Other people have reported seeing a small glowing light, followed by an odd mist that then turned into the form of a deceased miner. Whoever these creatures are, one thing is for certain and that is to never ignore a tommyknocker.

9. Are They Good Or Evil?


Many miners believe that tommyknockers have good intentions. They are convinced that their former mining co-workers tap and knock on the walls to warn them of impending danger (such as cave-ins) and to get out of the location immediately. They are also thought to bring miners wealth and favors.

They are also known to be rather mischievous and can play pranks on miners, such as eating their lunches, to hiding their tools, pinching them, and knocking their hard hats off.

A more disturbing theory is that they are in fact monsters who call out people’s names in order to lure them deep into the shafts. Others believe that the knocks people hear aren’t that of the tommyknockers warning the miners, but of the little monsters chipping away at the support beams in an evil manner of causing a cave-in.

8. Stephen King’s “The Tommyknockers”

When a lot of people think of the word “tommyknocker,” they automatically think of Stephen King’s book, although it’s completely different from the actual tommyknocker legend that haunts many mines around the world.

In 1987, Stephen King wrote a science fiction novel titled “The Tommyknockers.” However, his book was about aliens instead of the little gnome-like creatures that we are accustomed to hearing about. Then in 1993, there was a television mini-series based on King’s novel.

After last year’s huge success of the movie It, which was based on one of his books, King’s novel is now also being made into a movie.

7. The Cornish Folklore

Cornish miners from Cornwall, England were considered to be the leading people in mining technology and were thought of as the greatest hard rock miners in the world, therefore they were brought to America in the 1800s to help with the mining industry.

They were, however, known to be very superstitious when it came to their mining jobs. Their biggest superstition was that of the tommyknockers. The Cornish described these creatures as little people who were two feet tall, had big heads, long arms, wrinkled faces, and white whiskers. They believed that these little men snuck into the Cornish miners’ luggage before heading to America. There were very particular on listening to the knocks as they believed that two knocks meant “dig here” or “that’s it,” where three knocks meant “don’t dig here” or “it ain’t here.”

6. Superstitions

It’s no secret that miners are superstitious, especially working in such dangerous conditions. Some superstitions include that it is very unlucky to whistle inside of mines because it is offensive to the tommyknockers.

Miners also usually carry extra food with them in their lunch pails as a friendly offering to the tommyknockers. And after their shifts, when the miners would go to the bar and tell stories about the little creatures, they would make extra room for the tommyknockers to sit at the bar with them.

Miners also believed that it was bad luck for a woman to go into a mine, especially if she had red hair. Also, if a miner’s clothes slipped off the hook in the changing room, it meant that he was going to fall into a hole. Another superstition is that if a miner’s lamp didn’t burn bright enough underground, it means that his wife was out with another man.

5. Cripple Creek Tommyknockers

Legend has it that tommyknockers haunted the Mamie R. Mine which was located near Cripple Creek, Colorado. While tommyknockers are believed to be both good and evil, the fear alone caused countless miners to leave that mine and never go back.

Other miners who were much less superstitious worked at the Mamie R. Mine hoping to get rich. However, tragedy did strike that mine. A man by the name of Hank Bull was convinced that he heard the voice of a boy who was lost in a tunnel, but when he went down to search for the child, the ceiling collapsed, killing him. Another death happened when a bucket fell and crushed a miner’s skull. After those deaths, other miners reported seeing the ghosts of these two men in the mine. There were also reports of hearing whispers and seeing odd shapes moving around.

The miners, who believed it was the tommyknockers who were causing all of the tragic deaths, decided they finally had enough and left the mine for good. In January 1895, the mine closed.

4. Tommyknockers In Oregon’s Crescent Mine

The Crescent Mine in Sumpter, Oregon is a well-known hot spot for tommyknockers and there was even a show called Ghost Mine that ran for two seasons starting in 2013, documenting the strange experiences at that location. In addition to several experienced miners, two paranormal investigators also joined the team in search of what was haunting the mine.

The location was once a booming mining town until a fire tragically destroyed the mine in 1917. With a number of unexplained tragedies that happened in the mine, it received a bad reputation for being haunted and was closed down. It was again reopened at the time when Ghost Mine was filmed but was eventually put up for sale by the owners. It is said that there is still around $10 million worth of gold inside of the Crescent Mine, so maybe it’s worth dealing with the tommyknockers and ghosts.

3. The Hills Of Smokeshire

While most people want to stay on the good side of tommyknockers, there is one story where a group of miners mocked the little creatures and the end result was devastating. Around 200 years ago, there were seven miners who were working in the hills of Smokeshire at a gold mine when they heard tapping sounds from deep within the mine. Instead of listening to the warning and getting out there immediately, three of the seven miners started laughing and joking, saying that tommyknockers didn’t exist. They also provoked them by saying “C’mon then tommyknockers show us what you can do.”

Four of the miners left the area immediately, but the three who mocked the tommyknockers died in the cave-in. The four who escaped also said that they actually saw the tommyknockers as they were running out of the mine.

Although there is still said to be gold in the mine, nobody would go back in there to work and it was sealed up.

2. The Phoenix Gold Mine

The Phoenix Gold Mine is located in Idaho Springs, Colorado. The mine was originally discovered in 1871 and it has a tragic past. Two men were murdered close to the mine and there were remains found of two people who were buried inside. One of the two deceased people who were found was said to have been a witch who was into black magic.

The owner of the mine said that a visitor told him that they had a conversation with a person who then just vanished. In fact, many people who have visited the location have reported seeing two ghostly apparitions of men. Another claim is that people hear their names being whispered and many have seen the ghost of an old miner.

And yes, there have been several reports of tommyknockers believed to be in the mine, as well as people hearing knocks.

The Ghost Adventures crew did an investigation there and they caught some interesting evidence.

1. Are They Or Aren’t They Real?

The tommyknocker legend has been around for centuries and many miners believe in them. Is it simply coincidental that just before a cave-in, they hear knocking sounds? Perhaps, but it also could be a warning from the tommyknockers to get out. And it’s a little unnerving to think that when three miners made fun of the tommyknockers, they were trapped and killed by a cave-in while their co-workers took the knocking sounds as warnings and escaped unharmed. And we can’t discredit all of the eye-witness reports of miners seeing tiny men in old mining outfits.

Whether tommyknockers are just a legend or based on actual fact, one thing is for certain and that’s whenever miners hear knocking sounds coming from inside of the mine, it’s time to run out as fast as they can.

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