Mines, both mysterious and treacherous are believed by the men that work there to be haunted. Sometimes these apparitions try to give a warning of pending disaster, other times they lure the living to their doom. In Grant Town, West Virginia the Federal No. 1 mine operated from 1901 until 1985 and was said to be haunted by a Russian miner.
In 1901, the Federal Coal and Coke Company built a coal mine in Grant Town. With its promise of work immigrants came from across the world to make a living, where they could find death from explosions or rock falls. They brought their customs and their ghostlore.
In 1961, Jimmy Dean performed a song "Big, Bad John" based on this character. In the song he was described as a very tall and muscular man. A quiet man, rumors were that he left New Orleans after killing a man over a Cajun Queen. He scarified himself when a timber cracked inside the mine, and he held it aloft so his coworkers could escape, however it collapsed before he could get out.
The other story is that he was a Russian, and lived closed to the mine in a little shack. One day he became careless with explosives, and blew his head off.
A few days later, a miner descending into the mine early one morning, heard someone breathe heavily next to him. When he turned around the light from his helmet shone on a terrible sight. It was a headless man, holding his head with a big smile on it under one arm. With nowhere to go, the miner just shut his eyes. He opened them when the cage landed, but the apparition had disappeared.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer