Throughout history men have dedicated their lives to working in the mines to support their families. Children, women and men submerged into the darkness, knowing they may not come back. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s technology was farce, so modern equipment to warn theme of hazardous conditions, the hauling coal and picking the coal was limited and often done by hand. The first picture explores the hauling of coal by “pit ponies”. Extinct for modern machinery now, these ponies had by far the rotten part of the job. They had long work hours and could haul up to 30 tons of coal per day.
The second picture shows a shuttle car with a conveyer belt, which now hauls the coal out of the mines or known as “The Continuous Haulage System”. This is equipment designed and used to obtain continuous throughput of material from the mine face to the main mine load-out conveyor belts; unlike the pulsed, batch load throughput made possible by usage of shuttle cars and battery haulers. This essay will be describing how pit ponies and the continuous haulage system have proven or advancement in technology. Life in the coal mines has never been easy for the horses.
A pony would be bred, born, and put to work without ever having seen the light of the sun. Whether this confinement was insensitive or really more humane has been debated for some time. However, a pony in the mines received excellent care and attention throughout its working life. Luckily, the Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1887 contained the first national legislation to protect horses working underground. The section referring to the horses was minimal but it allowed mines inspectors to investigate the treatment of horses and consider whether haulage way roofs were high enough to prevent injury to the horses’ backs.
Injuries to pit ponies were common, and they had to be put down because of broken legs and their feet getting stuck or damaged in tub rails. To get the ponies prepared for the mines, they would have steel shoes on their hooves, shields covering their faces, and sometimes their mane and tale cut short. Many rumors concluded that the ponies would eventually go blind being in the darkness all day, but this isn’t so, most blindness in the ponies were caused by mere accidents. These horses usually worked till they were in their 20’s and usually exchanged seasonally.
The first picture gives off an emotion of tiredness, for the man and horse, and the astonishing amount of work to hauling this coal, with not much to rely on. It’s also sad, that a lot of those workings suffered tragedies, and the ponies, only a working life. The Continuous Haulage system proves the true advancement in technology is mind blowing. Its efficiency has saved many lives of men and replaced ponies. It’s most amazing machinery is the conveyer belt and shuttle car, eliminates any haulage from continuous miner operations. The conveyor belt allows more coal to be hauled out and the workers to be more efficient and safe.
It can be tailored specifically for each unique mine. It can go to up to and have bolts, to prevent spillage of coal and deliver more coal faster, than ponies could in a day. There’s also have machinery to cut the coal before it’s put onto the conveyer belts, called the hopper car. It consists of a loading station and driving station; which the miner is controlling with a remote. Shuttle cars are used for long wall mining, as seen in the second picture. They’re heavy duty, low wheeled vehicles used to haul refuse in the mines. They can be ran on electrical power or batteries and controlled by remotes as well.
They’re highest usage is for bolting roofs and other repairs, that weren’t optional in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Even with the advancement in machinery, they’re always risks, but this system makes it fifty percent safer. These pictures create the feeling of gratitude and suffering. Back in the 1800’s and 1900’s men, women, children worked their hands to the bone to support their families, with not much to show for it. Life was the mines, and in some of these rural areas where mines were located, not much other jobs where available.
Their equipment was all hand used and their ponies the only source of haulage. The first picture of the man, probably worked eight hours a day, loading and picking coal with a pick axe and guiding the his pony to land to unload, then back down into the darkness. At the end of the day, he put his pony into the stables and went home. The guy in the second picture probably clocked into work, road his shuttle care deep into the mines and repaired damages to roof or picked coal using only his remote and controlled the conveyor belt to load and haul the coal out of the mines.
The first man in could be in more danger then the second and the second making more money than the first man. The advancement in technology, whether it from ponies to the continuous haulage system, brings coal to our homes every night for electricity. It is possible that the advancement in technology could end up canceling out mines period, but no one should forget the hard work then man, women, and children put into their lives.