When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Lethbridge Colliery

Lethbridge Colliery, Alberta, N.W.T. 1885

In the Lethbridge colliery there are two seams of coal separated by a thin layer (about one inch) of slate. These seams are undulating and very regular, their combined thickness being about five feet two inches.

The system of working is that of laying off “rooms” at right angles to the double "entries" (each being nine feet wide) which are driven “over the butt” of the coal. The "rooms" are run nine feet wide a distance of 15 feet back from the "entries" when they are then widened out to 20 feet. By this means all the coal is extracted, leaving pillars 15 x 24 feet along the sides of the "entries" to support the roof.

Pamphlet: Agreement between The Lethbridge Collieries Limited and Their EmployeesThe company has introduced six American coal mining machines and two air drills; these machines greatly facilitate the mining and enable the company at any time to greatly increase their output, should the demand require it.

The power employed to work the machines is compressed air manufactured by a Norwalk compressor 20-inch cylinder with 24-inch stroke and weighs about 15 tons. In connection with this compressor, there are three reservoirs for storing the air, about 5,000 feet of five-inch main pipe and about 5,000 feet of one-and-a-half-inch pipe for the purpose of conveying the air to the various workings of the mine. The compressor is situated in the same building with a 60 H. P. hoisting engine, which hauls the trucks out of the valley, 2,200 feet up an inclined railway on to the "Bankhead", where the coal is dumped into chutes and discharged into the railway cars, which stand on scales below. Compressed air is also utilized for pumping water out of the mines, running the emery wheel for sharpening tools and [running] the forge in the blacksmith's shop. Three large tubular boilers are employed for making steam for the hoisting engine and compressor.

Total expenditures during the year [1885] on Capital Account amounts to $38,283.00 while Working Expenditure was $177,480.00. Total expenditure up to 31st December 1885 [presumably from April 1882] on Capital Account amounts to $175,180.52 while the Working Expenditure up to the same date amounts to $201,323,85.

C. A. Magrath
Lethbridge, Alberta

Lethbridge Its Coal IndustryThis article is extracted from Alex Johnston, Keith G. Gladwyn and L. Gregory Ellis. Lethbridge: Its Coal Industry (Lethbridge, Lethbridge: City of Lethbridge, 1989), Occasional Paper No. 20, The Lethbridge Historical Society. The Heritage Community Foundation and the Year of the Coal Miner Consortium (of which the City of Lethbridge is the lead partner) would like to thank the authors for permission to reprint this material.

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