Saturday, September 20, 2014

#70 Coal Portal 31, Lynch KY

This was one of those tours/roadside attractions that made an impression on us.  Maybe it's because it was our first time in a coal mine or it might be because as we were leaving a gentleman pulled up in his car to speak to Ronnie.  This older gentleman was a retired coal miner who worked in Coal Portal 31 for 42 years.  He handed us some photocopies of photographs taken in Lynch many, many years ago.  We didn't ask for them, he just handed them to us out his car window.  We chatted with him for about 15 minutes.  He told us about his job in the coal mine and shared some of his experiences.  It was a strange coincidence as we were leaving, feeling appreciative of what a coal miners' job involves, that we would suddenly meet someone who worked in that environment for all those years.  Click on the link below to learn more about the historical significance of this mine.  We thought the tour was great and for us, enlightening.
Coal Mine Portal 31, Lynch, Kentucky
Coal Mine Portal 31 opened in 1917 and the last coal mined here was in 1963.  The mine continued to produce coal until 1968 but through a bore hole process.  Tours of the mine began in 2009.  At one time, this was the largest coal mine in the world.
The mine entrance and exit, notice the safety slogan: "Safety The First Consideration".
Only the smoke stack from that time stands today.
A photo from when the mine was the largest tipple in the world.

Click on the photo to get a quick glimpse into the town's history.  At one time there were 10,000 residents in Lynch.  Now there are only 726.

This high school was built in 1924.  It was sad to see such a stately building abandoned.

The hospital is still standing, built around 1921 too.  The building appeared to be in use as a retreat for a nonprofit group.

The town had to relocate a section of Looney Creek.  Stone carvers used locally mined sandstone to accomplish this feat.  Again, all completed around 1917-1921 for the benefit of the mine and the town.

 The miners got their hardhat lights from this lamp house.

The mine office and shower house were located in this sandstone block building.  The block was mined from the surrounding area.

Ninety-three years ago this was a 30 seat restaurant for the miners, but now it's a coffee house. 

At a glance info board.

This is just inside the mine entrance and where one boards the tour cars.  Notice the animatronic man wearing the hard hat.  There were several of these in the mine for reenactment exhibits.

As were were entering the mine, I took this photo.  We were the only ones on this tour, we are getting used to this one-on-one attention.  There was a live human to drive the coal car.
Animatronic mannequins exhibit the use of a longwall shearer.

The past and present health/safety hazards for coal miners are numerous.  The memorial in front of the mine entrance is sobering. 
I learned about the number of horses that were used in the mines before electric cars, rail and conveyors were used.  I think I saw on a map, displaying the maze of mine tunnels, three horse stable locations..all underground. 
 Ronnie and I left Lynch with a new insight for the job and history of coal mining. 

Driving on Hwy 160 East, you leave Lynch and travel up Black Mountain, which is the highest point in Kentucky at 4,415 feet above sea level.  It is a scenic, curvy road and as you can see in the photo, the sun was finally shining.
More later.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. My maternal grandparents were immigrants to this country and my grandfather worked the coal mines for many years. It's a rough life.