Hoping to find a rich vein of gold ore they succeeded in tunneling a distance of 171 feet. The two slept deep in their mine because it was the dead of winter. On January 13 a snow slide rammed snow and debris a hundred feet deep into the entrance of the tunnel.
The men had spent a couple of years digging rock and hauling it out of the mountain to make the tunnel. Now they were faced with digging a hundred feet of snow from within the mine to reach the outside world.
Burke and Llewellyn had food enough for six days. Water wasn’t a problem. They would not soon be short of melted snow. They began digging, carrying snow back into the tunnel behind them and dumping it on the rock floor. They dug to the point of exhaustion, toiling for five days.
The men were on the point of giving up when they saw a faint light in the snow. Minutes later a dozen miners broke through from the other side.
So thrilled were they with their rescue, that Burke and Llewellyn gave their rescuers equal shares in the mine when they struck a rich vein a few days later. It would be known from then on as the Rescue Mine.