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Archive for December 16th, 2016

Originally published in The Seattle Times, December 16, 1973

By Stephen H. Dunphy

It’s dark as a dungeon
And damp as the dew
Where the dangers are double
And the pleasures are few
Where the rain never falls
And the sun never shines
It’s dark as a dungeon
Way down in the mine.
                    — Merle Travis

Joe Ozbolt had finished a day’s work in the mine and his face showed it. (Photo: Jerry Gay.)

Joe Ozbolt had finished a day’s work in the mine and his face showed it. (Photo: Jerry Gay.)

BLACK DIAMOND — Three, four, then five miner’s lamps came into view as the man-car climbed the 1,300 feet to the surface of the Rogers No. 3 coal mine near here.

There was Tony Basselli, 42 years in the mines. And Joe Ozbolt, black coal dust creeping under his cap like a reverse of the hair he lost years ago. And John Costrich, wrinkled, coal-black hands clutching a battered black lunch bucket. And Bud Simmons, the supervisor, a miner since 1928.

And George. George, with his usual six-feet-at-a-stride pace, was gone, down the hill and toward home before anyone could even say good night.

The day shift at the state’s only remaining operating underground coal mine was ending. The night shift—Grover Smail and Lou McCauley, both with 40-plus years of experience, and Jim Thompson—was ready to go “downstairs” to the eternal twilight of a coal mine. (more…)

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