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The Boy With the U.S. Miners
written by "Rolt-Wheeler, Francis, 1876-1960"
...chnical training and a big experience, to be anything of[Pg 54] a mine geologist. All I'm trying to do is to learn enough about it so that when I get to be a mine boss—if I ever do—I'll know what my chiefs are trying to do and I'll be able to help them. "Take Otto, for example. There isn't a better worker in the mine. He gets out more coal and less broken stuff than any other man below ground. But he'll never be anything but a hewer, because he doesn't want to learn. Why, just the other day, he was growling because the mine was shut down to repair one of the shafts, though the other shaft was working all right." "So were a lot of the men," Anton put in. "Why couldn't they go on working, with one shaft?" "Against the law," was the crisp answer. "That's the A B C of mining. And I'll show you why! All mines are required to have two shafts, in case of accident. That law was passed because of a famous disaster that happened in England nearly a hundred years ago. "In those days, colliers had only one shaft. One day, the beam of an engine which was directly over a shaft snapped, and a huge piece of ma[Pg 55]chinery, weighing several tons, tumbled into the shaft and stuck, not far from the bottom. As it fell, it ripped away the planking which lined the shaft and a whole lot of loose rock and earth fell on top of the piece of machinery, blocking up the shaft entirely and stopping any air from passing. There were over two hundred men and boys at work below ground. Miners Descending a Shaft. From an Old Print. Falling-in of a Mine. Explosion of "Fire-Damp." "With only one shaft, you can see what a mess that made! Before any digging could be done, the lining of the shaft had to be repaired, because dirt and rocks were falling into the shaft all the time. Miners—hundreds of them—were brought from neighboring mines, and they worked night and day on tw...

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