Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

October 12, 2006

New Block Coal Co. west of Streepyville

(Continued)



The next mine along the railroad going west was the Ballard Coal Co. located in the east part of Section 17, just west of where the big curve on the Numa road begins. It started out to be the Heavlin Mine in 1936, then the Enterprise Coal Co. in 1938 and closed as the Ballard Coal Co. in 1940. It was a shallow mine for this area with only a 60 foot shaft. After the Ballard mine was closed, some boys were looking at this abandoned mine. One of them was 17 year-old Thomas Lyons. He succumbed to the deadly black damp or monoxide poisoning.

I want to apologize for my terminology is some of my articles in the past. Sometimes I talked about drilling a new mine instead of digging a new mine. Actually any drilling might be limited to a test hole to find out if there was coal below and how deep and how thick it was. This might be done with an 8-inch auger.

The shaft of a mine had room for two elevator cages. Each cage had room for a coal car to get on it on its rails. The coal car was about 4 feet by 7 feet. The two hoists had to have a wood structure built on the side walls to hold the guide tracks around the cages as well as between the two cages. There was usually a quarter hole dug along one end to provide a passage for flow of fresh air. All in all the hole was probably about 12 feet by 16 feet.

I talked to some of the old miners to find out how they dug these huge, deep holes, this one 160 feet deep. The basic answer was by using the pick and shovel method. Then, of course, they had to lift all the dirt out of the mine with buckets and ropes, possibly using a windlass or horse power on the surface. If they ran into quicksand or water, they had to seal it off with wood planks. If they hit rock, they would have to use dynamite. This all meant a huge, time-consuming construction job, even before the first shovelful of coal could be dug.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

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