Charles McIntyre - Shallmar Mine
Andrea Hammer: Charles, I've never seen a mine, so could you take me on a mental tour of the Shallmar mine?
Charles McIntyre: You mean on the inside of the mine?
AH: Yes, please. Starting from the outside, what I would expect to see and moving in.
CM: When you went in the Shallmar mine, they had a lot of this cribbage, that's what they called it, they had it built up on the face of the mine so that the mountainside would not slip down overtop of it. They had this cribbage, and they had a lot cemented at the top as you went on in.
Then, they had a fan, a big fan, there that was forced air and they had air courses that moved that air back in the mine as far as they could, then they used braddish cloths where they would drop down to change the course of the air. If they want the air to go up this course where they were working a heading or change to go up a heading the other way and they would always used the braddish cloths, it was heavy canvas. The men called them braddish cloths, why they called them braddish cloths, I don't know.
When you went on into the mines, you went into what they called the main heading. Then there were branches in the mine that branched off where they had sections where the men that used the pick and shovel. This is where they'd shoot the coal, put black powder in it, and shoot it then load the coal by hand. They'd use a pony to pull their car out to the main drag. Then the motor men would take that and hook it on to their line of cars and take it on outside.
Of course, you had the machine coal where they had a machine that had auger bits all around it and would go underneath the face of the coal and it would cut it and drop it down so that the men could take it out. That was then the fastest way of mining, it was almost like a continuous miner they have today that just keeps cutting the coal and bringing it out all the time. Of course they had their slate and rock that they had to handle. The men in those days had to handle lots of stuff for nothing.
AH: Why is that?
CM: The company just didn't want to have to pay for it. But if they loaded too much rock in their cars when they came out and they got down to the tipple with it, the guy down there would inspect it and think it was too much rock in the car, they would sometimes give the guy two days off from because he loaded too much rock. But that's what they wanted was to get the rock out of there, so a lot of fellows got that. Because they wanted them to load clean coal. See, that went out the main heading, they'd pick it up at the trip, what they called the trip, and the motorman would hook. He had an arm fit on this metal line overhead, it was powered by 250 volts and it was very low. They used generally smaller men to run those motors, and they'd have a man in the back. When they'd bring that out from the mines, why, that guy would make sure that that thing was touching the thing to get power until after they got outside then they didn't have to worry. But they would come out of the mine, I’m telling you, they really run it, the dust and everything would just fly. They’d go on down to the tipple, and they'd let the cars loose. They had a siding where the motor would go on one side and back up and hook up to empty cars they had left before and pull them cars continuously. The cars were taken back into the mines just as fast as they could make them to bring out more coal.
AH: Did this continue around the clock?
CM: They generally started around six o'clock in the morning, and they'd generally quit around six in the evening. Of course, now, in later years then they started what they'd call the night shift. The night shift… They didn't work the tipple on the night shift. The men just worked in the mines, preparing coal and getting coal ready and pulling everything up so the next day the tipple had a start, so there would be something they could dump. Then those guys would have to dump all that.
Then they had a picking table. It was a shaker that shook the coal. It would go across that. Then they had what they called slate pickers that would get $1.44 a day for ten hours and they’d pick that slate off of there. My brother did that when he got out of high school.
Charles McIntyre, Gail Hammer
Photograph from the collection of Charles McIntyre. It shows Shallmar from West Virginia, across the Potomac
Garrett College, McHenry.
Coal miners--Maryland--History; Coal miners--West Virginia--History; Garrett County (Md.)--History; Allegany County (Md.)--History.
Western Maryland, 1930-1980