A Nevada Ghost Story
S. E. Schlosser
A couple of Welsh miners came to Nevada to help mine the Comstock Load. They were quite a pair of tricksters, yes sir! It got so bad that no one would believe anything they said, 'cause if'n they did, the Welshman would make them look like a fool. But they were popular. The miners dearly loved a laugh after a hard day working in the mine.
Now one evening the two Welshman started down the stope of the Baltimore shaft. They were working a late shift, and as they descended they began hearing the sound of hammers striking a drill, punctuated with the sound of voices. Neither man recognized the voices, so they assumed it was some new chaps working the late shift. The men grinned at each other. They liked pulling jokes on newcomers.
The Welshmen followed the sound of the hammers and came into a shaft flickering with the light of a single lantern. The Welshmen were amazed to see two hammers floating in mid-air, striking the head of a rusty old drill that was rotating itself. They could hear a murmur of voices, but could see no one.
Giving a startled yell, the Welshmen beat a hasty retreat. Climbing to the top of the mine, they gasped out the story to a few of their friends. No one would believe them. It was just the sort of practical joke them men had learned to avoid.
Finally, the Welshmen grabbed two of their fellows and dragged them, protesting, down the stope. When the four men entered the shaft, the invisible hands were still hard at work, hammering at the drill as they talked to each other.
"It's the bucca," shouted old Ned, who hailed from Cornwall, England. The bucca (Tommy Knockers) were small imps or spirits who haunted mines. "I'm getting out of here!"
The miners ran out of the shaft and hurried up into the starlight.
The Welshmen were not so quick to play jokes on their friends after this incident. And they stopped investigating mysterious noises.
You can read more Nevada folktales in Spooky Southwest by S.E. Schlosser.