Aladdin Tipple - Coal Production/The Coal Miner - Aladdin, WY
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member QuarrellaDeVil
N 44° 38.321 W 104° 09.750
13T E 566421 N 4943155
A sign in front of the tipple at the Aladdin Tipple Historical Interpretive Park, Aladdin, WY, provides some background on both the mine and the miners who once worked here.
Waymark Code: WM12PY3
Location: Wyoming, United States
Date Posted: 06/28/2020
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member jhuoni
Views: 0

There were once signs at the gate, one simply identifying this as "Aladdin Tipple Historical Interpretive Park", and the other reading "Crook County State of Wyoming". For whatever reason -- probably related to the precipitous nature of the tipple, but maybe it was just vandals -- those signs are missing, although the gates are open to the public, with barbed wire fences to protect both the tipple and visitors. There are multiple signs warning of the tipple's instability, so see this one safely while you still can. The county probably placed the interpretive signs that can be see throughout the park, both in front of the tipple and at the end of the trail at the top of the hill.

This sign is one of several behind the fence in front of the tipple, but it is not difficult to photograph or read from outside. Below the text is a photo of a coal miner from "back in the day", and it reads:

Coal Production

The Aladdin Coal Mines began operation in 1898. One of the earliest descriptions of the coal operations at Aladdin is provided by this 1899 Wyoming Coal Mine Inspector report:

Aladdin No. 1 - This mine is situated at Aladdin and is owned by the Black Hills Coal Co., the superintendent being Andrew Johnson. The average number of men employed in the mine is 35; the present number is 80. The production for the year ending Sept. 30th, 1899 was: 6,913 tons of lump, 334 tons of nut; 215 tons of slack; totaling 7,402. The capacity of the mine is 160 tons per day. This mine is supplied with natural ventilation. There was one non-fatal accident during the year. This mine has developed considerably during the past year having been supplied with new machinery. A dump and tramway have also been built (December 31, 1899).

From 1898 to 1916, the coal mine inspector's report showed production from the Aladdin Mine peaked in 1901 at 40,000 tons and dwindled to 1,000 tons in 1911.

The Coal Miner

The coal miners were often European immigrants seeking a better life. However, Italians, Swedes, Scots and other immigrants faced many dangers working in the Wyoming coal fields; roof falls and risk of explosion from the extremely volatile coal dust were common and often fatal occurrences. Mining of coal was a systematic, laborious process. A miner would first undercut the coal face with a miners pick, then hand drill the charge holes to a depth of approximately 8 feet. The hole would be scraped out and fitted with a hand rolled paper cartridge filled with blasting powder. A fused cartridge was "touched off" at the end of the shift to "shoot down" the coal. After the dust settled, the back-breaking task of hand shoveling the coal into cars was required. The honest toil of these miners was an essential factor in the development of Wyoming. (The mine entrance portal can be viewed by taking the Summit Path, east of the Tipple).
Marker Name: Coal Production/The Coal Miner

Marker Type: Rural Roadside

Addtional Information:
There are a total of eight signs that provide information about the tipple. All but one are protected by the fence that protects the tipple -- and you -- but all are readable. Together, they include some vintage photos and provide enough information for a narrative:

The coal tipple is at the site of old Bakertown, and Aladdin is the last coal mining settlement of those that included Barrett Town and Hay Creek. This was "Aladdin No. 1", which began operation in 1898, operated by the Black Hills Coal Co. A train line carried coal from Aladdin to nearby Belle Fourche, SD and then to parts elsewhere.

Of course, it was common to use immigrants from all over as labor, not only because they worked cheaply, but also because language was often a barrier to communication, which impeded their banding together and unionizing. An 1899 report indicated that the average number of men employed was 35, but that year, they had 80. Coal Mining 101 is basically that a miner would "soften up" a coal face with a pick, plant charges, blast, and then shovel the coal into cars for transport out of the mine.

The tipple consists of two parts: The coal bin is the large gable-roofed structure, where coal was received and sorted, while the chutes would further sort and carry the coal, using gravity, to the bottom. The remains of a catwalk are visible on the east side of the tipple, and an operator on the catwalk would help to guide the coal as it made its progress downwards. You can get a peek at the entrance and hoist house by following the path up to the top of the hill. You'll also pass the old fan housing, which was installed in later years to improve ventilation.

The mine had its peak year in 1901 when it produced 40,000 tons of coal, but by 1911, it was down to 1,000 tons. Focus had shifted away from industrial production by 1911, and later efforts were for domestic use such as heating and cooking. By the 1940s, operations had ceased, and the mine entrance was blown shut by the end of the decade over obvious concerns about an open adit. Besides Mother Nature's normal wear and tear as she attempts to pull down the tipple, there is an interesting sign at the top of the hill about bioremediation and how the coal waste ("slack"), fungus, and trees on the site are all working together to clean up the mess that mankind left behind when the mine was closed.

Group Responsible for Placement: Crook County, WY

Web link(s) for additional information: [Web Link]

Date Dedicated: Not listed

Marker Number: Not listed

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