Non-public tour of Pioneer Coal Mine

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Post By: DRBill » Thu. Aug. 10, 2017 6:15 pm

My brother and I finally were able to schedule a non-public tour of the Pioneer Coal mine with its mine foreman. The tour was unbelievable. It was supposed to be a one hour tour of the mine. We spent two hours in the mine and two hours outside asking questions, not only about the technology of anthracite mining, but also the people the mine foreman knows, as well as his experiences as a miner. My brother and I were truly overwhelmed with all of the mine foreman's knowledge. So much so, that I hope we can retain even 10% of what he told us. Near as I can tell, he has been a miner for twenty years. I didn't realize all of the knowledge and experience that went into becoming a mine foreman. People may talk about dumb miners, but this mine foreman made us realize that the really good ones, such as he is, are underground engineers of the highest order. Hey, he has a post-graduate education based on courses and experience and, I think, it takes at least seven years to be able to take the test and be certified.

He also told us that The Underground Miners got shut down about 2012 by the feds for their pictures on Facebook. I didn't realize it was illegal to go into abandoned mines, even though they told all about the dangers and that no one should even think about going into an abandoned mine. Apparently, the feds told them to take it down, or the next time they would be in a federal prison. No trial, just prison.

I think Pioneer closes in October for the winter, but if anyone is interested in the technical aspects of anthracite mining, not the public tour, I suggest you contact Chastity at [email protected] She told me they could accommodate up to twenty people and the fee is $20/person. Well worth it if you are interested in technology. The mine foreman said he would like to do it again. He is an outstanding, personable, speaker, and a wealth of knowledge about the technical aspects of anthracite mining. He even said he would have had hard hats and cap lights had we not brought our own. Just remember, it is 49F. in the mine, so take a heavy jacket.

Well worth setting up a visit if you are interested in technology. You will be overwhelmed. It would appear that Pioneer has 300 years of coal left in the ground. They closed in 1931. We saw only the first level, and there are two more, each with its own entrance. The Mammoth vein is on the third level, one we did not see. Supposed to be fifty feet thick, but that includes slate in between some of the layers. Never knew that. The public tour, and most of what we saw is only a small area of the first level. It must extend for at least a mile east and west of where you go in.

As a personal aside, I might suggest bringing a flask of JD for the mine foreman. I'm sure any anthracite miner would appreciate it. It's a gift for all of the knowledge he passes on to you.


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Post By: NoSmoke » Wed. Sep. 06, 2017 6:42 am

I had a similar experience at Black Thunder Mine.

It is a bit different in that Black Thunder Mine is in Wyoming, but I worked for the railroad at the time and Wright, Wyoming was where I was stationed. In any case I set up a tour of this working mine, at the time the biggest working mine in all of North America. It was a strip mine, but still very cool to go see. We spent about 3 hours there and the knowledge base was unbelievable. So was production...

I asked the Maintenance Foreman how long it would be before they ran out of coal. He said at the current rate of production which was (7) 20,000 ton coal trains per day, they could last 30 more years on the land they currently occupied (and keep in mind 30 other mines operate in the area). But that if I meant the seam of coal itself, it extended from Wyoming, into Montana and into Alberta and at the current rate of production could last another 400-500 years.

The real question I had is; why aren't we using more coal then?

(I recognize bituminous coal is not as good as anthracite coal, but still, it has energy and we should use it).

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