Rescuers worked around the clock to release Lindsay B. Hicks from his tomb in the Edison Tunnel near Bakersfield, California. Trapped there with five other miners on December 7, Hicks’ freedom finally came after his 15 day entrapment. He was the only survivor. On December 12, speaking through a pipe, Hicks told rescuers that he had survived on 40 cents of chewing tobacco. Victory finally came for his rescuers on December 22nd at 11:25 p.m.
Six Buried in a Tunnel
The Fresno Morning Republican, California
December 8, 1906
Bakersfield, Dec. 7. -- Six miners were entombed this morning by the caving of a shaft leading to the big steel pipe conduit which passes through a mountain 2000 feet at a high angle in the Kern River Canyon, at Camp No. 1, of the Edison Power Company plants, eighteen miles from this city.
The names of the miners are:
C. D. Robles
Lindsay B. Hicks
Reports as to the seriousness of the accident are conflicting and from the office of Glass and Fisher, a contracting firm, it was stated tonight that but seventy feet of shafting was caved in and that work on the line would be delayed about one week. Coroner Mullins has been notified of the accident, but will not go to the scene until two weeks, being instructed that it will take that length of time to reach the bodies.
The accident occurred while the miners were removing timbers from the shaft. It is supposed that the workmen had become careless, in their anxiety to make good time, and after removing a piece of timber, had neglected to block it in the usual way.
The falling earth gave impetus to the fourteen sections of the shaft and they fell like a card house, causing the cave in of the shaft and burying the six workmen under tons of rock and earth.
As soon as word of the accident reached town a score of miners were dispatched to the camp to assist in the work of clearing the shaft, in order to reach the bodies. This evening, wagon loads of heavy timbers used in shafting left for the canon and with the large force of men at its command the company will rush work night and day.
The plant at Camp No. 1 is nearing completion and it was expected that by the first of the year the transmission of power would have begun. The accident today will delay plans for several weeks at least, as the caved-in shaft had immediate connection with the huge steel conduit which will bring the water of the river through the generators in the power house.
Miner Hicks Rescued
The Daily Chronicle, Marshall, Michigan
December 24, 1906
Bakersfield, Cal., Dec. 24. -- Lindsay B. Hicks, released Saturday night from an entombment of 15 days in a cave-in tunnel, appeared well and happy after his gruesome experience, spending much time in receiving the congratulations of friends and neighbors, to whom he related, as best he could, the feelings he underwent within the dark, close quarters of his tomb-like prison near the dead bodies of five less fortunate companions, while scores of men worked like beavers, day and night, for more than two weeks to save him from death, by digging through many feet of earth and rock.
Hicks was once a soldier, and he is said to carry some Indian blood in his veins. His bravery under the trying conditions, won him the admiration of hundreds of persons who watched the progress of his exhumation. So strong was Hicks at the finish that he helped to scrape away the last barrier of earth, and crawled, with slight assistance, from death to life.
Hicks was not emaciated. He was so strong that the stimulants that had been prepared for him were not needed.
While working on a tunnel that was building by the Edison Power Company, near Bakersfield, on Dec. 17, the vertical walls of a deep cut fell in on Hicks and five fellow workmen. It was first thought, that all had perished under the hundreds of tons of rock and earth.
Three days later a tapping on the iron rail of the little tramway running through the drift gave the first intimation that a man, still alive, was buried beneath the debris.
A 70-foot pipe, two inches in diameter, was immediately forced through the debris. It reached the spot where Hicks was entombed. A heavy dirt car had become wedged in the debris in such a way as to keep the immense weight from crushing him.
When Hicks pulled the wooden plug from the iron pipe and called to the men above him, his voice sounded like one from the grave.
Through the pipe, the men working on top, learned that for several hours after the cave-in he had talked with his companions, but that they had become silent, and he believed they were dead. By means of the pipe, Hicks kept in communication with a big force of rescuers, at once organized. Milk was poured down the pipe. This was the only sustenance it was possible to give the man for nearly two weeks. During the first two days Hicks said he had existed on a plug of tobacco he had with him at the time of the cave-in.
In a narrow space under the car there was just room for Hicks to lie down. His prison did not allow the slightest freedom of movement.