Light in the Darkest of Places

20a8986c0Wondering what they used for light in the mines? You came to the right place. In the coal mines there were many different types of light sources that were used. The miners would use carbide lamps, stick ‘em tommy's, oil lamps, safety lamps and eventually electric lamps. A carbide lamp is a cannister of gasses that sits on your head. You release some of the gasses into your hands and then light them on fire. Once this process is done you are left with a flame shooting out from your head. These lamps were very bright but at the same time they were not the smartest things to use in a methane filled coal mine. Because the light is coming from your head you cannot see whether or not the light is adjusting to any type of gasses which lead to many explosions in mines throughout the world. A stick ‘em tommy  is a metal contraption that holds a candle. You take the metal portion and nail it into a timber than place a candle into the metal piece. These were used to light up different routes in the mines in order to see what is around you. Because the flame is out in the open it was dangerous but the wax from the candle would also melt away at a relatively quick pace so you always need to have to replace the candles. The oil lamps you use just like a stick ‘em tommy but the oil does not need to be replaced as often. The safety lamps were still used in many of the underground mines even after the electric lamps came out. A safety lamp is a lamp that contains a fire but the fire cannot exit the lamp. It is a very cool device that can still be used to test methane gas levels. The miners would use the safety lamps as a source of light and a methane tester until the electric lamps became apparent. The electric lamps were used but they  could not test the methane levels so the fireboss continued to use safety lamps as a tester. All of the different types of light sources can be found at the Bellevue Underground Mine! Come down and check them out in the museum at the back.

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