June 7, 2016
On our day off we took a train trip from Stearns Ky. down into the area of Blue Heron coal mine.
I couldn’t help but think about my own family that grew up here, my grandmother was born in this very town (about 1910). The train station below is an original building built in 1902 when the town was first established. I imagine my family walking through this building when it was first built…now, over 100 years later I’m walking in the same building.
The only disappointing part of the train ride was that it was not a coal fired steamer…none the less, it was a fun ride.
The thought went through my mind about how these same mountains heard the hustle and bustle, the train whistles and the excitement of a mining camp. My mind went to that time as I walked around looking at the foundations of the different buildings here.
This was an entrance to mine 18, aka Blue Heron Mine. It makes my Appalachian blood a bit proud to remember that my grandfather worked in such a mine, either this one or one somewhere within a 50 mile radius of here.
The train and mine area are now owned and maintained by the National Park Service, kudos to them for keeping our history alive for future generations to see and understand a big part of our nations history.
Tennessee Ernie Ford sang the old song 15 tons. Some of the words go: “You load 15 tons of number 9 coal and the straw boss says, ‘Well bless my soul’…”
I can’t imagine loading 15 tons of coal on my hands and knees…especially since loading 15 tons of coal would earn about $4.65 at 31 cents a ton. Makes about any job I’ve had seem like a cake walk.
It was good for my granddaughter Anndee to see and experience a bit of family history. I was proud that she was interested, and I wondered what was going through her mind as she watched the mountains go by on the train ride.