We wanted to see a real coal mine and this is one of the few that we could do as a day trip. The drive there was long, tedious and windy and the entrance is not well marked, but once there, we got our tickets and were met for the tour within a half hour. It was given by a retired mine supervisor so we couldn't have had a better guide. At that time, we were the only ones there, so we had our guide to ourselves and could really take in the experience fully. He was very knowledgeable about the equipment, jobs and politics of the coal system. Some of the original tunneling and drilling machines were on display outside the mine. They were massive, loud, and dangerous to operate. We rode into the mine on a little train, which is how the workers went in, and once it came to a stop inside the mine, were allowed to get out and walk around in certain areas, heads bent. The donkeys that they used actually lived below ground and were used to the noise, smells, and constant heavy dust and debris that the coal created. Inhaling coal dust is very deadly but in those days they didn't have masks, goggles, nor earplugs to keep it out. Men, boys and animals could get very ill from the effects of black lung and some died in the name of progress from excavating tunnels in order to supply the high demand for coal in those days. This was a very real, eye opening experience and I would recommend it to any family or group.
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