The Underground Coal Mine Adventure

Published 10-07-2010 8:26 AM | Mark D. Birdwhistell  

I have to admit, I never dreamed that when I came back to UK HealthCare I would be venturing down into a coal mine in West Virginia. Last week my good friend, Dr. Raymond Wells, UK College of Medicine class of 1965 and now medical director of Alliance Coal presented me with an opportunity that I could not resist. Dr. Wells and I traveled to Wheeling, West Virginia to visit one of his clinical sites at the Tunnel Ridge Mine. I was very impressed with the clinical operations of Alliance Coal, which I will talk about in a later post. However, today I will focus on my trip down into the mine. I have to admit that as a result of this experience I now have the utmost respect for the hard work and dedication of those who work in the coal mining industry. See below for pictures of this journey and how the pictures tell the story.


Preparing for the journey down under.


Miners outside of Tunnel Ridge mine.


It was comforting to receive training on the use of the breathing devices strategically located throughout the mine.


Thanks to new technology, the hard hats are now equipped with tracking devices for safety. Once again I was comforted by the fact that someone knew where I was located.


Dr. Wells and I suited up and ready to head down.


Tracy Gilbert driving us into the coal mine.


Tracy Gilbert and Dr. Wells. Notice how relaxed Dr. Wells is. Apparently he has done this not so much.


The Entrance... no turning back now.


In case you can't tell, this is Dr. Wells and me down under. We are now in the mine.


After making sure the camera flash wouldn't cause an explosion, we took another picture.


The journey back out of the mine. Notice the reflector lights on the left along the wall. When they reflect blue you are traveling in the correct direction to exit the mine. When they reflect red you are traveling into the mine.


It may be hard to see, but there is a number 2 engraved on this golden coin. I was given this coin before entering as a way of identification of my remains in the event of an accident. Unlike the breathing devices, this was not comforting.


The face of the mine. This was to prove I actually made it to the end point.


Outside of the mine, the coal travels to the Ohio River to be loaded onto a barge for transport.


The coal is stored in the silo pictured above, waiting to be transported.


Thank you, Tunnel Ridge, for the experience and your hard work.

Page last updated: 1/30/2015 2:51:24 PM