This 1928 silent educational short produced by Eastman Classroom Films depicts operations at a coal mine near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, showing minecarts, simple tools, and harsh working conditions (TRT 14:55).
Opening titles (0:10). Coal miners riding in a mining car exit the tunnel of a coal mine stenciled, “Be Careful Today.” The men’s faces are grim as they pass by, wearing headlamps and hats (0:14). The miners climb out of the mining car (0:29). A line of miners hand in buckets and headlamps at a small window with instructions posted on either side (0:38). A map of the Midwestern United States. A circle encompasses the borders between Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. A closer look pinpoints Pittsburgh. A black mass indicates coal country (0:48). A wide shot of a minecart loaded with men, entering a coal mine. A POV closeup entering the darkened mining tunnel. Intertitle: “Entering a Mining Shaft” (1:23). Workers march into an elevator in single file, as a man counts them, holding two others back. The elevator descends (1:55). A large mine shaft elevator pulley system spins, winding cable (2:22). Down the elevator. A man waves to an approaching minecart. A crew of men march in under small, fluttering United States flags (2:35). POV riding a minecart. The cart pauses at an intersection, allowing for another cart, piled high with chunks of coal, to pass (2:54). A man operates a large, motorized chainsaw, which cuts into a wall of coal. A team of two men operate a hand-cranked drill (3:42). Dynamite is inserted into the drilled hole. A man with a lamp and a pickaxe inspects the wall (4:30). The fuse is lit. The wall explodes (5:17). Title: “Air in a mine is kept pure and clean.” (5:34). A ventilation fan spins near a sign: “Danger, Keep Out.” A sprinkler car on the mining rail tracks sprays the walls of the mine down with water (5:41). Men shoveling and lifting large chunks of coal into a cart. A parade of carts filled with coal (6:08). An exterior shot shows the ascent of a cart of coal up an elevator shaft and into a silo (7:16). Older workers sort coal on a conveyor belt (7:35). A mechanical sorting machine filters the coal by size. Large pieces continue down a conveyor belt and into railroad cars (7:46). Title: “About half the coal is used for making steam” (8:22). A steam locomotive carries over 20 carts filled with coal along a railroad track near a riverbed (8:25). Title: “Making coke from coal” and another procession of railcars (8:49). The following sequence depicts the process by which fuel is heated and distilled into fuel. A machine rotates. More conveyor belts (9:21). Finely ground coal is ground and washed with water, then rushes uphill on another conveyor, which passes a man in a suit, bowtie, and hat for scale (9:55). Title: “Beehive coke ovens” and an elevated exterior shot of smoke pouring from large ovens as workers walk by below, and a large cart drives on rooftop tracks (10:23). The finished product is raked out of a stone oven. A man with a trowel seals up an archway on the side of the massive oven (10:48). Title: “Modern retort coke ovens” and a wide shot of the same. Four large vessels head towards the camera on rails. “Coal is changed to coke in twelve hours” (11:17). A closeup of the retort ovens’ semi-automated process (12:14). A glowing hot slab of coke is dumped into a hopper car, bursting into flames on contact. The camera traces the car’s path to a cloud of smoke rising into the air (13:03). The finished product is dumped into a large pile by men operating large levers (14:12).