Sherman Egger's Close Call
Thursday September 15, 2005
By Craig Stillwell
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Mining ore is a risky business. But a cool head can save a miner from disaster. Sherman Egger, a Depression-era miner, had one partner who's quick thinking saved them both from an early grave.
Born in 1917, Egger was raised in the mining town of Waldo, Oregon, southwest of Grants Pass. He eventually worked for the Benton goldmine on Whiskey Creek. His job was to "shoot holes." He and a partner would descend the mineshaft to the lowest level. There they would drill a line of holes, insert explosives, and light fuses that would ignite the charge six minutes later.
On one shoot, when Egger was two fuses shy of lighting his share, he fell into a deep mud hole. He yelled for his partner, who, once informed of the situation, lit the final two fuses, and returned to pull his buddy out of the hole. But Egger was just out of reach. Unfazed, his cool-headed partner simply dangled himself down into the hole and let Egger climb up his body. Egger then pulled his partner out and the two scrambled out of the mine as the charges exploded behind them.
Both men got out alive-all thanks to a miner's natural ingenuity.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Craig Stillwell, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
"McCloud, Fred, "Shoot'n Holes: Sherm Egger on Mining and the Town of Waldo." In Patch Work: Memories of the Rogue Valley. Grants Pass, Oregon: Rogue Community College, 1975. P. 39.