The southern part of Poland is noted for its coal mining industry, Katowice especially. In Zabsze, a city west of Katowice, is a mine which they have made into a touring attraction in this area. It was a fascinating experience for us, and we learned a great deal about coal mining in days gone by and modern day mining. The mine was established around the 1860′s, was closed and reopened several times, and now is a mining museum.
Alex, a university student here in Katowice who is from Ukraine and is in our English class at church, was our guide for the tour. We have certainly enjoyed getting to know him during our 8 months in the city. He will study next fall in the Czech Republic.
Mining is a dangerous occupation, but being in a mine itself, you realize just how hazardous it really is. Our hats off to these hard workers around the world.
We are getting ready to go into the reception center for the mine. The tall structure is used for lowering the elevator down into the mine – kind of a bumpy, noisy ride. (We had to wear our P Day clothes for this excursion – a coal mine isn’t very clean!)
The huge wheel holding the cable for the elevator.
The tunnels are all reinforced with metal and wood since it is a tourist attraction. Only wood was used for reinforcement during the earlier days of the mine. This is looking toward the elevator shaft where were descended to the first level.
Horses were used to pull the coal cars through the mine. They had their own stable in the mine and lived there around the clock. They were blind because of the lack of light, but they knew what to do from sounds they would hear.
We descended here to one of the lowest levels in the mine, about 320 meters underground.
This is one of the drills to cut coal from the wall of the tunnel.
Alex was a great translator for us during the tour. We rode on a modern “people mover” for a short distance in one of the tunnels..
The mine experience was unique and extremely interesting, and we were glad that we could see what is such an important part of the economy and culture of this southern area of Poland.