Springhill residents are marking the 50th anniversary of one of the country's worst mining disasters with a plaque and candlelight service.

On Oct. 23, 1958, a seismic shockwave tore through the tunnels of the No. 2 colliery. The "bump" trapped 174 miners underground; 75 died.

Harold Brine was among two small groups trapped in the dark.

"I realized, boy, I don't know how bad this is," said Brine, one of only three survivors left. "We didn't know how many was dead, but we knew there was a serious problem."

The earthquake struck in the evening, around 8 p.m. Most of the miners made it to the surface.

Those still trapped were caught more than three kilometres underground in a nine-metre-long chamber that was only 1.2 metres high. There was no food and only half a can of water.

On the sixth day, determined rescue crews managed to find 12 miners. Three days later, they found another seven.

As part of the Remembering '58 events, the town is unveiling a plaque Thursday afternoon and holding a candlelight vigil in the evening. A concert is planned for Friday.