A while back, one of my young students asked me if I had ever been down in a coal mine. I played it positively cool and stated, "No, I have never been underground."
He told me that it was, "Soooooo cooool!", both literally and figuratively. I didn't admit that I have always been scared stupid when the idea came up. What if the mountain collapses? Look at what happened in 1903 at Turtle Mountain... The Frank Slide...people killed, houses destroyed! An area one kilometre wide, 425 metres long, and 150 metres deep was covered in giant limestone boulders from the crest of the mountain! No way, I wasn't going into a coal mine, ever!!!!!
Well.... I changed my mind this summer. I decided out of the blue, that I was ready to take the plunge and it became reality this Sunday, August 19th. I had just been to Cowboy Church in Pincher Creek, and I guess I earned some courage. The message was, "You are never alone, just ask for help."
So I said, "Okay, Lord, don't let me down!" and down I went!
The outside temperature was 32 degrees Celsius and I was ready for a break from the heat after two days of sitting in the heat with sweat running down my back at the rodeos. What better way to cool off than going into a mine shaft where the entrance temperature was 2 degrees Celsius and 300 metres in O degrees Celsius? Gulp!
|I am actually going in there!|
|2 Degrees? Burrr!|
|They believe in safety first! Phew!|
|Okay, the beams look fairly strong!|
|I don't know, those beams look haphazardly placed? Gulp!|
|Really? That's holding the up mountain?|
|Will hard helmets and little headlights really be enough?|
|Why am I walking crooked?|
|What's that sound? Flood water! Why is water dripping down the sides?|
|Hey, that rock is beautiful!|
Okay, I have admit, it was cool being in the mine. We got a sense of what it would have been like to work in the cold, dark mine, how heavy the tools were to get the coal out and how much work and time it would have taken to take out tonnes of coal out of the mountain. The tools made so much noise that the people in the houses above could hear the miners' tools below their floors!
I actually wasn't that creept out, I was slightly exaggerating! I was also amazed that my camera could take such clear photos with a headlamp on my helmet and my flash! I had a positively cool mining experience in the Bellevue Mine! I am sure glad I wore my hoodie though! My fingers were still cold fifteen minutes after in the gift shop! I did feel absolutely refreshed once outside again! COOOOOOOOL!
The photographs are soul property of Renee Dowling.
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