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A Year in a Coal-Mine (1911)

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Pages: 62

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:8/4/2009 - General Books LLC

By: Joseph Husband

Excerpt from book: Ill UNDERGROUND CITY THERE was comparatively little gas in the mine. Each morning, as we entered our room, we made a rough test for gas, for occasionally during the night some door down in the entry was accidentally left open and the air-current, short-circuited, might fail to reach up into the room and clean out the ever-generating gas. And so, as we left the entry, we would take our lamps from our caps and, walking one before the other, holding them out before us and slowly lifting them above our heads, watch to see if a sudden spurt of blue flame from the pit-lamps would disclose the presence of " firedamp," the most feared of all mine-gases. There is always some gas up under the roof at the head of a room or an entry, and when the cars were loaded we would sometimes burn it out, holding our lamps high up against the roof until the gas up in the end of a drill-hole, or in a hollow of a rock, burst suddenly into a soft blue and yellow flame that puffed out against the roof and down toward our hands. There was never much of it, but once in a while where the drill bored through into a pocket, there was more gas than the men anticipated: and twice I have seen men come staggering down the entry, holding their faces in their hands, when the flame had swerved suddenly down and caught them. We could always hear it — the trickling, like water running over pebbles: and sometimes, too, as we sat and waited, we could hear far up in the strata above a sudden crackling as the pressureof four hundred feet of solid stone bent beneath its weight the supporting timbers and pillars of coal that held up the roof of the mine. Old miners call these noises the " working" of a mine: and often, where the rooms were close together and the walls of coal between them were thin, there was a consta...  

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