Friday, November 24, 2006

This Mine's too tiny!...not

On Friday November 18th, after a couple of cancellations, the Grade 3 classes from Christopher's school went on a much anticipated field trip to Mine # 2 on Bell Island. I was one of the parents who volunteered to go along, and it was a very interesting trip.

We left the school around 9:00 by bus and headed to the Ferry terminal in Portugal Cove, after a very short Ferry ride we landed on Bell Island and set off for the Mine. After an unscheduled short tour of Bell Island we arrived at the "Historic Underground Iron Ore Mine and Museum".

The group was split into the 2 classes and Christopher's was the first to go underground. Before we entered the mine we were issued hard hats:

Our tour guide, Karen, informed us of the safety rules, showed us a model of the mine and the path we would be taking and then passed around a sample of iron ore.

Then we entered the mine!

As we started down the slope we saw niches carved in the walls where candles (and later oil lamps) were placed to light the mines.

Father down we saw a feedbox for the horses that were used to haul the ore cars from the ore face to the base of the main slope where they were hoisted to the surface. The horses actually lived in the mine in underground stables. The guide told us that when the horses were taken above ground they had to be blindfolded until their eyes became accustomed to the sunlight again.

Here's Christopher standing in front of some mining equipment:

And here's a very interesting artifact. It's a metal damper from a stove pipe. The miners would take some grease from the axle of an ore car, smear it on the metal damper and use it to fry an egg!

After we emerged (safely and a little tired) from the mine we spent some time looking around at the exhibits in the museum.

The museum also includes an awesome collection of photographs by Yousuf Karsh.

We had lunch and then rode the bus back to the Ferry terminal and spent a few minutes on the beach in the beautiful November weather waiting for the Ferry.

After another short bus ride we made it back to the school around 2:00, it was a great day and I would definitely recommend a trip to Bell Island and a visit to the Mine and Museum.