Your history students will have an exciting, hands-on experience and learn how coal was mined to meet the steel making furnaces in Pittsburgh during the American Industrial Revolution. Your Pittsburgh history field trip will begin at our “Coal School” where students will hear how immigrants from all over the world and all nationalities traveled to America and were recruited to mine coal for a living. Coal was the energy source to meet the demand to fire furnaces in Pittsburgh and across the country for steel making, glass manufacturing and electricity. Your students will learn how coal companies built houses for miners to rent. They provided company stores where miners had to shop for food, clothing and other necessities. The mines extended credit during slow times so they can keep the miners working at their mine. Ever hear the song “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford? He sings about miners plight and in one famous verse he sings; “I owe my soul to the company store”. This is because miners were paid not in US Currency, but in company scrip. This scrip was used like a currency, but was only good at that particular mine’s store or to pay their rent. It seems no matter how hard coal miners worked they were deeper in debt because of what the coal companies were charging for rent and necessities to live.
But this did not stop the American Dream for many immigrants. Miners from Eastern Europe, Scotland Ireland, Italy, Russia settled in towns and had to learn a new language and new customs, all the while trying to hold on to their traditions. Coal mining towns were truly a melting pot of nationalities. America grew stronger with coal miners’ contributions.
Tour-Ed Mine’s history school field trips are instructed by actual coal miners who will showcase and demonstrate the type of coal mine equipment used in the 1800s and today. Your students will enjoy a ride ½ mile beneath the earth’s surface in an actual coal-car called a man trip. Here, the mine instructor will incorporate the history and science behind how coal mining was accomplished then and today. In the 1800s a miner would fill a cart with coal and identify his load with a numbered brass tag he would attach on the side of the coal car. A donkey would pull the cart back up to the surface of the mine where the mine boss would weigh the coal and mark the amount next to the miner’s brass tag number in his record book and send the cart back down to the next miner. At the end of the day the weight would be totaled to indicate the miners pay. Students will also experience the operation of todays coal mining equipment and how far coal mining has come both in the mining process and how miners are compensated for their work.
Tour-Ed Mine & Museum is one of the best and most unique history-filled school field trips in Pittsburgh for elementary and grade school students. We have created a one-of-a-kind educational adventure combining history and science with an exciting attraction that will keep the attention of all and provide a learning experience they will remember throughout their lives.
The Tour-Ed Mine & Museum has been modified for maximum visitor safety and comfort. The mine is inspected and certified annually as an attraction. Please see our tour information.