By June 1916,
after Humberstone's major operation was opened, its manager, C.G. Skelton
boasted that it was one of the most up-to-date in Canada "being equipped
with a private electric lighting system, compressed air for machine mining and
the latest type of shaker screen." Although perhaps an exaggeration, it was
one of the most heavily mechanized mines within the city, producing over 100,000
tonnes from its eight-foot seam during 1917.
Humberstone Coal Company published a pamphlet detailing its mechanical mining
systems. When it had opened a mine in Clover Bar in 1900, Humberstone expanded
its Edmonton plant, installing a major shaker screen. Also, major coal-cutting
systems were put in place.
While most of
the coal is machine mined, there was still a portion of the mine where it was taken out with
an old-fashioned pick. The room and pillar system was employed
and the machines cut under 6 feet 6 inches, the width of the room. Two holes
were then drilled near the top of the seam at each corner of the room; these
were charged with monobel, which is a smokeless explosive. Then the coal was shot
down. From there, it was loaded into the cars and horses haul these cars from the
rooms to two central points or partings in the mine. These cars were there made
into trains by means of haulage engines and wire ropes are quickly brought to
the shaft bottom.
A new box car
loader was added during the First World War. At the coal face radialax cutters
were used, as were punchers, to undercut the seam.
By 1920, Mrs.
Humberstone was operating the mine due to her husband's poor health. The company
operated a sixty-acre farm, mostly to raise feed for the mine horses. During the
1920s, some 700 tonnes per day were taken during peak seasons. Some was shipped
to country points, but most was sold in Edmonton. In 1926, the operation closed.
By this date all of the many operations between the High Level Bridge and 92
Street were closed.
Kenneth Tingley. Coal Mining in Alberta: An Introduction to Changes in Coal-Mining Technology in
the Plains and Parkland Areas, 1872-1955. n.p.: Reynolds-Alberta Museum. With
permission from the Reynolds-Alberta