Last week Ela, one of our Branch members, invited us to spend the day with her and Nathan, her son, in Tarnowskie Gory, the town where they live which is about a half hour drive from Katowice. She had asked us some time ago if we would like to see the silver mine in her community, and we took her up on the offer. Nathan, who is seven, is the boy Sister Reed teaches in Primary, and he is learning all about preparing for baptism from the Primary 3 manual lessons. It is so much fun to teach him, and he is a willing learner and seems to love the gospel. We have gotten to know Ela and Nathan quite well, and we are so thankful for this great blessing of friendship in our lives.
The mine was another fascinating experience for us (this country is full of fascinating experiences, we have found). The Poles have preserved, and now exhibit, their culture and heritage extremely well.
We started our tour of the silver mine by walking through a damp, cold tunnel. This was only one of many as we went through the different areas of the mine.
As in the coal mine which we previously saw, this work was also grueling and extremely dangerous to human life. As one of the figures shows, there were even some women who worked in these mines.
Saint Barbara is the Saint who offers protection for the miners. In each mine there is at least one shrine with her statue and other symbols of worship.
These are the modern day pylons used for support against cave-ins.
Many of the areas in which the miners did backbreaking work were so low they couldn’t stand up and almost had to crawl into the space to be mined.
Here are some old original wooden pylons and an old mining car which was pushed through the mine by the miners themselves.
We rode in a boat to a different part of the mine by floating in the water drainage tunnel. Water in the mine was always a big problem, and sometimes the miners were working in water up to their knees. They continually tried to find new ways to pump it out or drain it to other areas.
Ela and Nathan in the boat in the aqueduct that drained the water from the silver mine. The water is pure and has “magic power”, as the folklore of the country says.
We were sitting right by our guide in the boat so we had a chance to talk with her. She is a student at one of the universities in this area and has worked as a guide for about 4 months. She was a delightful young woman and did a great job as a guide.
After traveling though the mine via the aqueduct, we came to an area which showed several more types of support pylons against cave-ins. In the foreground we see a wood and rock support, and in the background just to the right is a piled rock support.
This is an original wooden support used when the mine was fairly new. The calcium deposits can be seen on the wooden logs. All of this was such labor intensive work for the miners.
In the reception area as we exited the mine, there was a mural depicting an image of the mine.
At the entrance to the park next to the mine, we saw one of the old wheels used to pump water out of the mine. This was run by manpower, a man walking inside the wheel for 12 hours a day.
This is a panorama of the park next to the mine which has historic mining equipment ranging from pumps to train engines. The equipment was mostly steam driven in that early mining era.
We had to get this picture for our grandson, Talon, who loves trains. Talon, wish you were here to help us drive this train!
This old steam driven crane was particularly interesting to us, and Nathan was trying to figure out how it worked.
After this mine experience, we went to Ela’s home for a delicious lunch. We then went to an underground aqueduct not far from the silver mine which was dug as a drainage system for that mine. We rode a boat through this aqueduct which was about 25 meters under the ground. The entire day was wonderful and another choice experience to be with some of our most favorite people and to experience another part of the rich Polish heritage found in this fascinating country.
The lush, green forests of Poland have been wonderful to walk through in the various places we have visited. We walked a ways through these woods to the entrance to the underground aqueduct. These memories of beautiful Poland will always be in our hearts.