Search This Blog

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Our Mine Tour at Glace Bay - Nova Scotia

I will publish his name later. This miner gave us an excellent tour of the coal mines under the sea in Nova Scotia. Our ship docked at Sydney and we drove a rental car about 15 miles to the mines. 

All of the mines closed in Nova Scotia in 2001. There is plenty of bituminous coal there - but the market prices are too low to justify mining it. Mining was done with a deep elevator shaft. Then the miners rode an electric train about 5 miles out under the sea. They mined by the conventional room and pillar method - leaving pillars of coal to hold up the roof. They used drills to plant the dynamite charges - then they shoveled the muck into coal cars and were paid by the car. Later - they used saws and automatic mining machines - like big chain saws. 

Our guide worked as a miner for 40 years. He said that he had a little black lung - but it was not bad. He did walk with a cane. He was short - so it was easier for him to walk around in the low quarters. He was about 5 feet 5 - he said he was 6 feet 4 when he started  :-)

When he started out about how miners lived in company houses - shopped in a company store - I became emotional. But when he talked about kids being put in the mine when their Dad's health failed - that was too close. When my grandfather ran away - my Dad was indentured to work in the mine - to keep their company home. Dad worked from 1934 to 1959 - 25 years - in the Number 8 Mine in Coaldale. He was a very smart man - he had a chance to go to Girard College in 1934 as an orphan. When the neighbor's car was leaving to Philadelphia - Dad stayed on the porch. I always thought - what if.

The museum had a cute little miner's village - including a fantastic tiny restaurant. It reminded me of the Heisler's Waffle House - but in coal miner motif. 

Mining always intrigues me. I studied Earth Science for 40 years - and but for chance - I could have been sentenced to a life of dark wet hard digging - and an afterlife of wheezing with black lung. 

The book and movie - Pit Pony - were made about these miners in Canada - under the seas. Ellen Page as a child of 11 starred in the TV series.

Our guide - on the contrary - was waiting for the mines to open again. Even though he was 70 something - he said he would love to go back to work in the mines under the sea.

No comments: