Visit to E4-1 Elkhorn No. 4 Mine hosted by
TECO Coal Corporation
(Photos below)

Did you know that it takes 2.3 pounds of coal per hour to operate your computer? 

Did you know that coal provides 52% of the electricity used in the USA?

These are just some of the facts about coal that we learned on Tuesday, October 21, 2003, when representatives of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Knoxville News-Sentinel, and the Knoxville Actors Co-op toured the mining operations at TECO's Elkhorn Mine in Hazard, Kentucky.  Dave Blankenship, Director of Safety & Environmental Affairs arranged the educational tour.  The trip was for research purposes.  Fred Brown, Senior Writer, and Paul Efird, Photographer, are writing an article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel about the coal mining industry.  The Knoxville Actors Co-op will be writing and performing an original play about the Fraterville Mine Disaster in Coal Creek that happened in 1902.

See the article on TECO as featured in World Coal magazine

For more facts about mining, visit the Kentucky Coal Association web page.

Link to Fred Brown's article on the trip

Check out a few of the photos from our day in Kentucky:

Click on image to enlarge

Our lesson began at the mine offices in Perry County, KY.  Craig Mullins, P.E., Operations Director, enthusiastically explained the layout of the mine using detailed mine maps. The group received the required safety training to enter the mine.

Before going to the E4-1 Elkhorn No. 4 mine, Dave and Leonard "Ditter" Davis took us to the entrance of one of the oldest mines on their property that opened in 1902.

Cars are brought out of the mine loaded with coal and processed to remove impurities before the clean coal is sent by rail to a power plant.

Tour attendees left to right:
Paul Efird, Ditter (TECO), Amy Hubbard, Dave Blankenship (TECO), Kara Kemp, Alan Gratz, Sarah Campbell, Fred Brown

Ditter Davis and Vena Maggard distribute our safety equipment All suited up for our learning adventure into the E4-1 Elkhorn No. 4 mine which started operations last year.
Boarding the "Mantrip" to ride down the slope into the mine

Looking down the slope

Looking back up the slope
This mine had some very low roof levels at some points.  We learned the reason the mine roof is low is because the miners only want to mine the actual seam of coal.  If the seam is only 32 inches high, that is all you want.  You don't want to mine rock because it would have to be separated at the surface and disposed.  Also, we thought the walls of the mine would be black like coal.  They are coated with white limestone rock dust that assists with fire prevention and coal dust suppression.
Miners in the TECO mines make between $60,000 and $80,000 per year.
Foreman Danny Sorrells gave us detailed descriptions of the equipment and electrical machinery underground.   Danny is college educated and has worked in the mines for 30 years.
Roof bolts that are installed to prevent roof collapse.

Danny explains the use of the chalk board to the group.  At each shift change, a miner will check the condition of the air and other safety criteria and then write his name, date and time on the chalk board.

We exit our ride to explore more of the mine on foot.

Two and a half miles underground, we came upon Shannon and Kelly.  They claimed to be the very best looking miners in the whole mine!   Until... we turned the corner and found...

Josh, who claimed he was the most handsome.  Coal miners are not "hicks with a pick".  They are skilled mining machine operators.

The group at the end of the tour.  What a great bunch all of these TECO folks were for allowing us to spend so much time learning more about the process and value of mining.  We left with a new admiration for what coal miners do, so we can enjoy life's conveniences that electricity provides.

Clinton Courier News article written after touring
TECO's surface mining operations in Kentucky and Tennessee.

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