• October 2012

    Big South Fork

    National River & Recreation Area KY,TN

The Bath House

Miners Bath House

Typical miners bath house with clothes hung from baskets.

National Park Service

Having a public bathhouse would seem a strange idea to any who were not familiar with life in a mining camp, particularly a coal camp. The miner's public bathhouse was not only a convenience but also an essential to the sense of well being to both miners and their families.

Coal dust, wet and mud are all normal conditions of mining, but they impose hardship on the household if the miners have to travel home before cleaning up at the end of the shift. Changing in and out of work clothes and showering before going home kept up a man's morale and kept some of the coal dust out of the house.

The Blue Heron bathhouse was hard won by the miners. The first bathhouse was much smaller and wholly inadequate for a camp that often worked over 200 men. To get the company to build a better bathhouse, the miners went on a two-day protest strike. The men got their new bathhouse. They later found out that their pay was deducted for the time "out on strike".

The coal mine bathhouse was not only a place where one got respectably clean on leaving work, however, it was a place where men talked and gossiped, told tales and played pranks on one another to lighten the load of hard daily work. The men still remember a good bathhouse with pride and the pranks played there with humor.

Some said the miners were too dangerous to "pull pranks" while working, and the bathhouse was a welcome relief.

 
To continue your visit through the Blue Heron Mining Community, choose the next "ghost structure" you wish to visit.

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