Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, WV
Our first stop was to the City of Beckley where we visited the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, Museum, Mining Camp, the Mountain Homestead exhibit, and the Youth Museum. The admission is good for the all of the exhibits for the entire day.
Emily and Hannah looking at a kettle bottom which is a piece of petrified tree stump. The bark of the tree forms a seam of coal, but the wood turns to rock. Many miners were killed by kettle bottoms because they would fall out of the ceiling of the mines.
This miner's helmet was also in the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine Museum
Leroy was a miner for 28 years. His father was a miner for 49 years! He really enjoyed our children and gave our family special attention. We enjoyed speaking with this kind man, and his love for his job shows as he talks. While we met many wonderful people, Leroy was one of two favorites. I will introduce you to Buford in another post.
Coal miners had to pay for all of their own tools and dynamite. They even bought their own canaries.
Leroy told us his father started training in the mines by working alongside his father when he was 11. He was excited to have some boys in that age range on the tour to point to throughout the tour. He kept asking Joshua and Caleb if they were ready to work!
The tunnel on the tour is still considered an active coal mine and has to meet all safety regulations. This is a board showing when the fire boss went through to burn off any methane gas pockets in the ceiling. They also check for black damp which is the absence of oxygen. They also keep a count of how many people go into and come out of the mine on each tour...just in case.
The first thing the miners had to do was remove rock under the coal seam so the coal would have a place to fall. If they did not take the time to do this step, they would lose coal under the rocks. If there were too many rocks in their load, they would not be paid as much. "An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of perspiration!"