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Ashe County Oral History

Collection of interviews with notable Ashe County residents

Johnny Sands, otherwise known as the Nashville Flame, was a professional musician and stunt man. He, along with Sheriff Eugene Goss, were lowered into the Ore Knob mine shaft to recover the bodies of Tommy Forrester and Lonnie Gamboa, victims of the infamous Ore Knob murder conspiracy. In this interview, Sands recalls the events surround the recovery of the bodies. 

Part 1

0:00 Family and background

2:30 Music and stuntman performance

3:45 Famous country acquaintances

5:34 Stunt work

8:35 Learning about Ashe County murders

11:22 Compliments about Sheriff Waddell

12:40 Making decision to go into mine

13:25 Inadequacies of initial search

14:30 Sheriff Waddell’s reaction to Sands

17:40 Preparations for rescue

21:50 Identification and description of mine shaft

24:45 Gear used during rescue

26:30 Emotions going into shaft

28:30 Description of mine shaft

29:50 Description of bodies


Part 2

0:00 Thoughts about potential for other bodies

5:00 Description of drawing

7:25 Condition of bodies

8:20 Thoughts about Gamboa and Forrester

11:13 Other rescue work

13:20 Sheriff Waddell’s involvement

15:43 Discovering the bodies

19:20 Bringing the bodies up

22:11 Reflections on Ashe County