History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia
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Dept. Mines



The increased demand for coal, which in the Autumn gave opportunity for the display of much energy in the other coal mining counties, has not been attended by a similar result in Cumberland.

Although much attention has been drawn to Spring Hill by the opportunities for carrying on a profitable business, which the opening of the Intercolonial Railroad from Truro to Amherst afforded, as yet no active preparations have been commenced for mining in that most promising coal field.

On the areas owned by Mr. Livesey, a persistent search by boring has been conducted, but up to the present time no seam of much value has been found. The prospectors have, however, succeeded in tracing the main seam a quarter of a mile further to the westward, on the General Mining Association's property, and consequently their hopes of proving the further extension of the workable beds to the westward, have been considerably raised. Much difficulty is met with, in proving the extent of the field, on account of the great depth of the superficial deposits, and the great expense attendant on sinking trial pits.


The Joggins colliery has been further developed and the facilities for an increased output prepared. During the year 12,291 tons were sold, an increase of 1877 tons over the preceding year's operations, The new slope has been continued to a depth of 690 feet, and the low levels from it open a new winning of 315 feet to the deep of the present water bord. At the eastern end of the workings, a mile and a quarter from the shaft, the old system of bord and pillar has been abandoned, and a longwall system with 40 feet faces of work has been introduced. Both divisions of the seam are worked and the intervening parting of fireclay which there is not so thick as to the westward, is thrown back into the waste. The change in the system of working has been attended by the replacing of the skids hitherto used, by tubs of moderate capacity. On the surface, preparations have also been made for an increased business. The wharf has been extended 100 feet and blocks for 200 feet have been built at right angles with the main wharf which afford additional protection to the shipping. An expenditure is returned as follows :--

  Slope          $2809
  Levels          2000
  Surface Works   2802
  Houses           200



The returns from this mine state that 118 tons have been raised during the year and that the sum of $15.00 has been expended on levels.


At this colliery mining has been on even a more reduced scale than in former years. The quantity of coal mined was 844 tons and an expenditure is shown on

  Adits and Levels     $287.40


The Spring Hill Mining Company has been formed to work the Macfarlane areas. It is expected that during the ensuing year works of a permanent character will be established. For the present, a slope 115 feet deep worked by a horse gin yields the coal that is supplied to meet the local demand. 1000 tons have been sold. The returns show an expenditure on--

  Levels           $201.13
  Surface Works     365.00
  Houses            500.00
  Machinery          30.00


On the Black areas $446.60 have been spent on prospecting.

A branch from the Intercolonial Railway about four and a quarter miles in length is now being built, which will, when complete, put the mines in communication with the markets of the numerous towns and villages on the line of the railroad from Truro to St. John.


The four active collieries in the county, were worked with vigor, up to the close of navigation, and helped in a great degree, to swell the increased total output of the country. They are now making further preparations to meet the expected greater demand of the coming season.

In the eastern and western sections of this coal field, prospecting has been conducted with renewed energy, but has as yet met with, but indifferent success. From the


98,865 tons were sold, an increase of 21,732 tons. At the Foord Pit, the only pit now being worked in the main seam, the levels to the northwest have been much extended and room made for an increased number of men. To the rise of the workings and below a heavy barrier of coal left to dam back the water lying in the old workings, an air shaft nine feet six inches square is in course of being sunk. At the mouth of this air shaft a Guibal ventilating fan 30 feet in diameter will be erected, and also a steam engine by the aid of which the shaft now 345 feet deep will be continued 270 feet further; at which depth it is expected to reach the coal.

All the old workings to the westward in this seam are now shut off, and as heavy after damp finds its way through the cracks of the measures, and falls along the crop to the surface, in the neighborhood of the Forster Pit, in all probability fire still smoulders over an extensive portion of the workings in that district:

By some means unexplained, the after-damp suddenly found its way into the old workings of the deep seam, and in such volume, that a large district had to be walled off. In the deep seam operations have not been very extensive, but preparations have been made to greatly increase the capabilities of the Cage Pit, by extending the incline and driving levels. Coke continues to be made of the slack from the main seam, and meets with a ready sale at remunerative prices. The returns show an expenditure as follows :--

  Shaft         $4669.66
  Machinery      6394.15
  Houses         3208.72



The regularity that in previous years characterized the working of this colliery, is again observable in this year's returns. The quantity of coal sold, 123,063 tons, exceeds the sales of the previous year, 19,056 tons, and is the largest output from any one mine in the country. The system previously pursued has been continued. The slope, having been extended 370 feet, has now a total length of 1190 feet. Another set of levels are in course of being driven to develop the new lift. In the upper lifts the levels have been driven to the boundary, and the pillars robbed to such an extent, that the roof has crushed in over a large area of the workings. From the experience gained by working the pillars, it is expected that in future operations of a similar character, a much larger proportion of coal will be won than hitherto; especially when the robbing is conducted in a regular manner.

There has been erected, during the year, a new set of three boilers made of 3/8 plate, thirty feet long and 34 inches in diameter. Also, a force pump of six in. diameter and 7 ft. stroke to replace, one having only half its capacity. An expenditure is returned as follows :--

  Machinery        $7852.19
  Surface Works      540.50
  Houses             218.89



Sold 105,545 tons; an increase of 54,058 tons over the total quantity mined during the previous year. At this colliery, the slopes have been continued to a depth of 1440 feet, developing a new lift of 451 feet, and the mine put in an efficient state for a further extension of its capacity. The driving of the slope took 47 days. A shaft 342 feet deep, in size 14 feet by 6 feet, was sunk in 132 days. It is, for the present, to be used as a downcast for the air. A stone drift has been driven through the trouble, an upthrow of twenty-five feet, that at present bounds the workings to the east, and the extension of the levels in that direction continued. On the western side of the slopes, the levels have been driven to the boundary, and a return air course has been cut up the side of the barrier rib.

A branch road two and three quarter miles long (to connect the colliery with the provincial railroad) has been constructed.

The returns show the following expenditure on

  Shafts          $ 5942.69
  Surface Works      443.16
  Houses            2930.06
  Levels            1433.26
  Machinery         1795.27
  Railroad         20678.76



Sold 60,590 tons; an increase of 48,072 tons. By perfecting the arrangements previously made, without a much further expenditure of capital, this colliery was also enabled to largely increase its business, and with the other establishments on the Acadia seam, find a ready sale for its product in the general market. The construction account is returned as follows :--

  Houses          $3525.00
  Surface Works    1787.00



This colliery has been planted on the McBean areas, to work the deep or 8 foot seam. Two slopes now 160 feet deep are being driven on the inclination of the seam, an angle of 30 degrees. The main slope is 16 feet wide, and the travelling way 8 feet wide. Strike of the seam N. 58 E. Mag. A pair of winding engines 12 inch cylinder and 18 inch stroke, built by the Acadia Foundry, New Glasgow, have been erected. Three plain cylindrical egg-ended boilers, 30 feet long by 38 inches in diameter, are in position, and the flues from them lead into a stack 60 feet high, 3 feet 10 inches in diameter.

Seven double houses for workmen and the necessary shops and offices are already built.

Preparations are now being made to construct a railroad, about 6 miles in length, to connect with the provincial road at New Glasgow. The expenditure stated in the returns, is as follows :--

  Slope            $3568.00
  Surface Works     4208.75
  Machinery         4437.00
  Houses            4078.00
  Prospecting         66.12


On the MITCHELL and BARTON area, an adit has been driven through the measures about 300 feet, on to the extension of the same seam now being opened at the Vale colliery. The workings are as yet very limited, and the extraction small. The seam on this area is found to be 14 feet thick. The returns show an expenditure on

  Adits             $249
  Surface Works      135
  Prospecting         17



have made no returns for the year. Their operations must, however, have been very small, and it is understood were chiefly in the fire-clay. The quantity of fire-clay shipped, is said to have been 40 tons to Montreal, and 29 tons to Halifax.

The Pictou Mining Company expended $453.17 on prospecting their area.


The collieries in this Island experiencing equally with those of Pictou County, the effect of the increased demand for their product were, during the later part of the season, worked to the utmost of their restricted capacity. Their capacity was restricted, not by the want of facilities for extraction or means of transportation from the pits to the shipping wharves, but by the scarcity of manual labor at their command. Skilled workmen were not to be had, but of ordinary labor, except in the height of the season, there was sufficient.

This question of labor, will, in all probability, be the most serious of' all that will engage the attention of agents anxious to profit by the expected increased trade of the present year.

In the County of Inverness, the


Colliery was alone worked. The shipments from which still remain small, through slightly in excess of the previous year. In the mine, the lowest level has been extended to a distance of 800 feet, and faces of work have been carried from it to the full rise, each about 30 feet in length, succeeding one another at a distance of 10 feet. One of' Cameron's special steam pumps, No. 6, keeps the mine free from water.

It is proposed to greatly extend the breakwater, and form within the cove a shipping basin to afford greater protection for vessels against the prevailing northerly winds of Autumn. The expenditure on surface works was $50.00; and on levels, $150.00.


102,691 tons sold. A decrease of 3,203 tons. This slight decrease was occasioned by the heavy snow storms in December blocking the railway and retarding the shipments. And had it not been for the want of men the shipments would have been largely in excess.

The workings were conducted in the same systematic manner, employed for many years. More attention, however, was paid to the pillar working which was carried on upon an increased scale.

At the new winning at Loyd's Cove the sinking of the pumping shaft was continued to a depth of 266 feet when a feeder of salt water, 160 gallons per minute, was struck. The sinking was then discontinued, and the lower 32 fathoms of the shaft lined with cast iron tubbing weighing 162 tons.

The complete sinking set of 20-inch pumps, with spears, ground spears, crabs, sheaves, &c., were erected, and 29 fathoms of 3-inch plank brattice with oak buntons, guides, &c., were put in and other arrangements completed to combat with the feeder and continue the sinking. The staple shaft which stood at 140 feet was continued to a depth of 280 feet, and 25 fathoms of its depth were cased with cast-iron tubbing weighing 72 tons. In his last report Mr. Brown states that the sinking was progressing satisfactorily, and although the feeder had more than doubled in volume hopes were entertained that the water-bearing strata would shortly be pierced, and the feeder tubbed back. The returns give the following expenditure:

  Shafts          $14,541.21
  Surface Works       518.67
  Machinery           902.68
  Houses             2283,84



19,222 tons sold. The levels in the mine have been extended to the West and the lower one has reached a distance of 22 chains.

The accommodation for workmen has been increased by the building of several blocks of double houses. expenditure is thus shown:

  Levels           $9546.11
  Surface Works       55.50
  Machinery          158.13
  Houses            5973.22



38,404 tons sold. An output largely in excess of late shipments.

At the Barrasois the slopes are kept free from water but no means of shipment or transportation have yet been provided. The level under the sea has been extended about 4 chains. An expenditure is returned as follows:

  Levels           $2,343.72
  Surface Works       528.60
  Dredging          3,621.57



The crop workings have been abandoned, and a shaft 12 feet, by 9 feet is in course of being sunk, which should it is expected reach the coal at a depth of 200 feet. The upper 15 feet of the shaft have wooden walling, below, the measures are sound and require at present, no lining. The position of the shaft is convenient for shipping by the International Railroad, to Sydney Harbor.

Preparations are being made to erect a powerful winding engine, build workmen's houses, shops, &c. The expenditure is stated to be:

  Shafts           $9,833
  Houses            7,016
  Machinery           895
  Surface Works       343
  Railway branch      855



This colliery is now fully equipped to work the crop coal of the Phelan seam. Two slopes, 10 feet wide, have been driven to a depth of 810 feet and levels won out on either side. A single horizontal engine, 22 inch cylinder, 3 feet 8 inch stroke, geared one to three with the following shaft, on which drums 5 feet 8 inches in diameter, are driven by friction gearing. Five boilers 30 feet long, 3 feet in diameter, of half-inch plates, well fitted, each with two safety valves, water gauges, &c., erected in an adjoining building, supply steam for the hoisting engine, machine shop, and for the steam pump at the bottom of the mine. The flues from the boilers lead into a stack 53 feet high. A more than usual amount of attention has been given to the dwellings of the workmen; each is supplied with an out-house, a necessary adjunct for the comfort of the people, but one, unfortunately, not always so considered by the builders of mining villages. Neat picket fences surround the plots of ground set aside as gardens for each household.

The narrow guage railroad connecting the Lorway, Emery and Schooner Pond Mines with this colliery, and the shipping pier at Sydney is equipped with three of Fairlie's double engines and 200 wagons. Each wagon, 12 feet 6 inches long by 7 feet wide, is fitted with side doors and pitched floor, and has a capacity when heaped of 4 tons.

The following analysis was made by the Manhattan Gas Light Company, New York:

  Charge, 2240 lbs. Time 3 h. 50 m.
  Maximum yield per ton               9950 ft.
  Illuminating power at 9500 ft       13.17 candles.
  Coke, per ton, 38 bushels           1520 lbs.
  Gas purified by one bushel lime     2380 ft.

                        New York.            London.
  Volatile matter          34.50              36.26
  Fixed Carbon             59.50      Coke    62.74
  Ash                       6.00      Water    1.00

                          100.00             100.00

  Carbon                                       77.41
  Hydrogen                                      5.47
  Oxygen and Nitrogen                           9.30
  Sulphur                                       2.47
  Water                                         1.00
  Ash                                           4.35


In the returns the expenditure is given :-

  Levels          $9767.60
  Houses           6973.65
  Surface Works    6916.49
  Machinery        1590.85
  Prospecting        96.40



A shaft 66 feet deep, 11 feet by 9 feet, and divided by a bratrice, has been sunk to work the crop coal until the pair of pits now in course of sinking have developed the seam. A single horizontal engine 14 inch cylinder two foot stroke, geared one to three with drums five and a half feet in diameter is used for hoisting. Two boilers of the same construction as those at the Reserve supply the steam. The pit frame is 45 feet high and the pulleys 7 1/2 feet in diameter.

The sinking of the permanent pits gets on but slowly as there is a great deal of water to contend against. The pumping shaft is now down 110 feet. Two portable engines of 10 and 16 horse power are in use for hoisting and supplying steam for two steam pumps 7 inch cylinder and 12 inch stroke.

The construction account is returned as follows :-

  Shafts          $14,459.90
  Levels             5145.52
  Surface Works      8159.80
  Machinery        11,347.17
  Houses           17,688.02
  Prospecting         794.45



Operations were suspended at this colliery at the close of the previous year and were not resumed until September. The business in consequence was much below that of the preceding year. An additional engine has been connected with the single horizontal engine hitherto used for hoisting, but in other respects the arrangements have not been changed. The preparations made in the previous year to increase and regulate the supply of fresh air passing through the workings here not been carried out; and should it be considered desirable to work the mine extensively and uninterruptedly during the ensuing summer a furnace or fan should be forthwith built.

The following is an analysis of the coal made by the Manhattan Gas Light Company, New York, January 10th, 1871.

  Maximum yield per ton                  10,106 feet.
  Illuminating power at 9500 feet        1703 candles.
  Coke per ton                           38 bushels.
  Coke per ton                           1440 lbs
  Gas purified by one bushel of lime     2314 feet.

  Ash in coal                            5.0 per cent.
  Volatile matter                        38.5 per cent.
  Fixed Carbon                           56.5 per cent.


The expenditure is returned as follows :-

  Shaft              $340.00
  Surface Works       177.00
  Machinery          3140.00
  Levels              885.47



30,715 tons sold; a decrease from last year of 8,800 tons.

Hampered by the want of labor when the demand sprang up, this colliery was unable to increase its output beyond the limited quantity stated. No changes in the method of working or in the general arrangements at the Hub have to be noticed.

The crop workings on the Harbor seam having extended so far from the Little Pit, it has been thought advisable to prepare for a new winning 500 yards to the deep, and the sinking of two shafts about 100 feet apart has been begun. The pumping shaft, l0 feet in diameter, is walled with stone three and a half feet thick to a depth of 19 teet. The" Sterling" to be used as a hoisting shaft is similarly walled and is 10 1/2 feet by 11 feet. The coal is expected to be struck at a depth of 230 feet. The Hub seam is so easily wrought that the average quantity of coal cut per man per day is 6.5 cubic yards. An average unusually high, and, I believe, not surpassed by the cutters in the thick seams of Pictou County. The expenditure stated in the returns is as follows:

  Shafts           $3307.50
  Levels             225.66
  Surface Works      272.75
  Machinery          819.17
  Houses            1260.71
  Railroad           529.00
  Piers              703.38



44,186 tons sold; an increase of 19,531 tons.

Shipping from this colliery was steadily pursued for nearly the whole season, and although the daily yield was small the sum total amounted to considerably more than in any previous year. In the mine, the levels have been extended and more rooms broken off from them. A headway has been driven to the crop which is to be used as an intake for the air during cold weather, so as to relieve the pumping shaft and keep it free from ice. The lodgment has been enlarged, and has now a capacity of three or four day's water.

The pit-tubs have been fitted with end doors to save breakage of the coal.

At Port Caledonia the water has been deepened by dredging, and vessels drawing 17 feet have been loaded.

The returns show an expenditure of $1,479 on levels, and $1,500 on houses.


2,606 tons sold. --Late in the Summer arrangments were made by which the product of this colliery might be shipped at Port Caledonia. A railway about half a mile in length was constructed and a shipping berth erected. The establishment, the returns stated, was put in order by an expenditure on

  Shafts              $204.50
  Levels               128.00
  Surface Works       1051.50
  Machinery            550.00
  Railway             8020.50



This colliery, connected with Sydney Harbor by a branch of the Glasgow and Cape Breton Railway, is in course of development.

The following are analyses of the coal made at the Royal School of Mines, London;

  Carbon              78.10.        Volatile matter       35.43
  Hydrogen             5,48.        Coke                  61.90
  Oxygen, &c }                      Water                  2.67
  Nitrogen   }         7.81.
  Sulphur              2.49.                             100.00
  Water                2.67.
  Ash                  3.45.


A slope 10 feet wide with side slopes 6 feet wide are being driven to the deep. Nine blocks of workmen's houses, the necessary workshops, offices, and requisite hoisting and pumping machinery are being built and erected at an expenditure for the year, the returns state on

  Slopes             $7,615.60
  Surface Works       1,859.72
  Houses             22,946.14
  Machinery           4,112.91


42,748 tons sold. --Active operations were resumed during the Summer at this mine, and a fair amount of business transacted. The operations were of the ordinary character with this important addition that pillar working, in two districts of the pit, was commenced and so far conducted with success. As a large area of the seam now stands in pillars the immediate further extension of this class of work should be seriously considered.

The shipping wharf has been strengthened at an expense of $3,000.


46,602 tons sold; an increase of 4,171 tons.

A new shaft has been sunk three quarters of a mile from the Odiorne pit, on to the extension of the North-west levels. It is to be used as a hoisting shaft and is 12 feet in diameter, lined with wooden cribbing to the depth of 24 feet.

Before sinking was commenced a borehole to carry of the water was put down by the aid of a portable engine and a manilia rope used in place of the ordinary hand-rods. The Breakwater has been further extended and is now 1,430 feet in length. The total cost of the structure, it is stated, has been $90,000. The construction account has been returned as follows:

  Shaft            $2,610
  Boring              450
  Levels              270
  Surface Works       235
  Machinery           450
  Houses              350
  Breakwater        2,020



1859 tons sold. The resumption of work in the mine was undertaken late in the year, but the temporary character of the loading wharf preventing shipments being made, necessitated a further suspension.

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Last Modified: 99-05-24

Originally Printed by: The Citizen Publishing Company

The information contained on this site is not provided for the purpose of factual
representation. Instead, it is provided in an historical context. Every effort has
been made to ensure that this information represents the actual content
of the published Nova Scotia Department of Mines annual reports.
Nevertheless, no warranties are provided in any respect.

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