Like a lot of people, I first heard of Tommyknockers from Stephen King’s book and the miniseries based on it.
Then I promptly forgot about it until we went on a hard-rock mine tour at the old Hundred Gold Mine tour.
Although first referenced by the Germans in the Middle Ages, the Tommyknockers were brought to the US (along with Cousin Jack) by the Welsh and Cornish miners. These little men (women are considered bad luck in the mines, hence all Tommyknockers are male–ergo no Tammyknockers allowed) stand about 2 feet tall, wear miner’s garb, and have beards. Originally, they were related to elves, but evolved over time to be the spirits of miners who were killed in cave-ins (Being crushed explained their short stature).
Like most otherworldly beings, Tommyknockers could be helpful or malicious. They are credited with saving miners by knocking on the walls before cave-in, giving everyone ample time to escape, and leading some to good veins of ore. They also liked to steal tools, shake ladders and blow out miner’s lamps.
A tool fell off this table, apparently cluing the guide in that he was supposed to make the introductions.
Have you ever been 1/4 mile inside a mountain? It’s very, very dark with strings of electric lights and the stuff of nightmares without it.
To keep on the good side of these little creatures, miners would make clay statues of them and toss the crust of their sandwiches or pasties to them at then end of mealtime. The miners also discouraged whistling as the Tommyknockers hated it. And if the Tommyknockers got mad enough, a cave-in was sure to follow.