March 6, 2009

Jr. Coal Museum and the SW Virginia Museum

We visited the Harry W. Meadow Jr. Coal Museum in South West Virginia. The mine was in operation from 1895 until 1995. The miners worked twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and sixty-two train cars of coal were removed from the mine every two days.

The steps to mining are to check for Methane Gas, drill a hole in the wall of the mine, stuff it with dynamite, light the fuse and leave the area. Then after the blast, the miners loosen the coal with a pick and load it into carts to remove it from the mine. In the early days, the miners were paid by the cart load of coal removed from the mine.

The majority of the miners came to town when a railroad line to the mine was built. People came from Germany, Scotland, Poland, England, Hungary, and many other countries. Free African Americans came too. They were all paid in company script which they could only use to buy goods at the company store.

Lizzie - The lunch bucket had three compartments in it. It had one for a sandwich, one for a drink and one for a dessert. The drink was in the bottom, and it was like a thermos thing. They used a scoop to scoop out the water and drink it. The sandwich went in the middle compartment and the dessert went up on the top. The dessert was frequently a piece of shortcake.

Several different kinds of animals were used in the mines. In the above picture, dogs were pulling a coal cart. We also saw pictures of mules and a cow pulling a cart.

The machine above helped clear out the walls in the mine.

Then we went up the street to the South West Virginia Museum. This museum is in the old Ayers Mansion which was built from 1888 to 1895. House Builders at that time charged 17 1/2 cents per hour, and the Ayers Mansion, which took 7 years to build, cost $25,000 to build.

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