• Photo by Jason Barnett Photography

    Big South Fork

    National River & Recreation Area KY,TN

Mine Superintendent

Cack Slaven stands in front of a mine opening.

Joseph "Cack" Slaven, one of Blue Heron mine superintendents, stands in front of a mine opening.

National Park Service

The superintendent’s house structure in the camp because it was built for the camp superintendent. The original superintendent at Blue Heron, Claud Markam, was only in place a brief time. Lemmie Wright is most remembered as the first Blue Heron superintendent, it was for him the house was built.

The last superintendent at Blue Heron "Cack" Slaven also lived here with his family. Slaven took over the running of the camp after a year’s halt in production some say was because of a company attempt to "break" the union. Others say it was because business was bad.

The camp superintendent held sway over the tipple boss, the foreman and all of the mining camp workers. Hiring and firing, promotions and better positions within the mines were the superintendent’s to decide. Even which house a miner’s family lived in was in the hands of the camp superintendent.

The basic changes in mining between the Lemmie Wright period and the Cack Slaven period was small. The mining operation gradually moved to an all "machine" operation from a hand loading operation, and some say Wright was best a supervising a hand operation and Slaven at working men with machines.

The lives of the superintendent’s families were different than those of other mining families. More luxury and more mobility were the rule. The superintendent’s house had the first telephone in camp and the first television at Blue Heron—with its antenna high on the mountain in a tree.

In general, both Slaven and Wright were remembered positively. Some said Lemmie Wright got his supervisor’s job because his brother John ran the entire Stearns mining operation, but jobs in the region were often gotten through family connection.

Listen to memories of Blue Heron's Mine Superintendents.

 
To continue your visit through the Blue Heron Mining Community, choose the next "ghost structure" you wish to visit.
 

Did You Know?

Park interpreter presents program on Longhunters.

Longhunters were some of the first Europeans to traverse the Big South Fork region. It is said they were called longhunters either for the long rifles they carried or because the were typically gone on hunting trips for so long, sometimes up to a year.