On our way to our campgrounds we stopped and had a little history adventure by engaging in a trip deep into the earth. (Apologizing for the pictures, mine are still on the old computer).
Descending down into the mine. We learned about how they dig/explode out the sections carefully to prevent cave ins. Our tour guide offered us an opportunity to see just how dark it can get deep down in there. He turned off the lights and you could not even see your hand in front of your face.
A laborer could earn up to $1.50 per coal cart they filled. These were not little carts that you could fill in one afternoon, it could easily take a day or even more. The carts weighed several tons and at the end of the day the foreman would stick his hand down into the cart. If the coal didn't reach his elbow, it was not considered filled. No $1.50 was paid. The cart we saw was pretty full, and according to the tour guide would not have passed the test.
When I visit places like this it always makes me think about the fortunate life we have today and how grateful I am to have things like labor laws, minimum wage, and safe environments to work in. I often think about what my life would be like, how awful it would be to have the foreman come to my home and to hear that my child had died in that dark awful place. I think about the daily dangers and again feel blessed with my life today. It was certainly an educational and interesting trip. I was so glad the boys were able to learn some thing about what America once was. The coal mines were one of this country's backbones to who we are today. Despite the truth about these jobs, we all enjoyed the day and were so incredibly happy to see the sun when we ascended from the deep dark.