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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Early Technology

Boisjoli: Coal car and abandoned cable - Pat McCloskeyHistorically, underground methods were used to mine coal. When a coal seam was to be mined a tunnel was driven to access the coal. Branching off this main tunnel were smaller- tunnels that ran in the coal seam and allowed it to be mined. As time and mining progressed each name consisted of many miles of these workings. The earliest mines were usually worked largely by hand; the miners' using picks and shovels to dig and load the coal into one ton coal cars. "Pit ponies" pulled trains of coal cars on rails to surface, though in some, the miners pushed the coal cars themselves. These techniques were inefficient and by the 1900s, mechanization was becoming common in coal mining although in some mines, to reduce chances of sparks and explosions, hand mining continued for several more years.

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