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Sections of an English Coal Mine

Sections of an English Coal Mine.jpg Interior of a Silver mine in MexicoThumbnailsMiners Descending a ShaftInterior of a Silver mine in MexicoThumbnailsMiners Descending a Shaft

In some English and Scotch mines, and also in some of the French mines, where the seams of coal are thin, boys, who are called “putters,” are employed to draw small carts along a railway. They fasten themselves to the cart with belts around their waists, and draw it along, going sometimes on their hands and feet where the road is wet and rough. Sometimes one of them pulls the cart while the other pushes it. In some of the Scotch mines girls formerly performed this work; but of late the laws do not allow women to work under ground.

Girls used to carry on their backs a basket fastened to a leather strap which passed around their foreheads. A lamp was attached to the strap, and in this way they carried their loads up the long ladders and through the inclines, sometimes a distance of several hundred feet. If a strap broke, a block of coal fell, or a bearer missed her footing, those below were seriously hurt, and many fatal accidents occurred. This primitive mode of raising coal was abolished by law. The owners of the mines had become so careless in regard to the management of their laborers that the government was obliged to interfere.

The Underground World - A mirror of life below the surface
By Thos. W. Knox
Published 1872
Available from gutenberg.org and books.google.com