Experimental and Safety Research Coal Mines

View of explosion at a mine entrance
View of explosion at a mine entrance

Photographs by David Price and Mary Beth Reed, courtesy of Department of Health and Human Services

Quick Facts

Location:
West side of Cochran Mill Road, approximatelv 2 miles south of Bruceton
Significance:
Education, Engineering, Science
Designation:
Listed in the National Register – Reference number 100001250
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
No
The Experimental and Safety Research Coal Mine is significant for its association with 20th century government research that directly enhanced the safety of the mining industry. Research in the mines led to breakthroughs in understanding the physical and chemical characteristics of coal dust and methane gas and how they interact with explosives and electronic equipment in a mine environment. Staff applied mine research to produce new explosives that replaced the dangerous use of black powder with a list of permitted explosives that prevented mine explosions. Also developed through mine research were a multitude of new electronic equipment, headlamps, lighting systems, and other safety equipment that reduced the possibility of explosions and increased the likelihood of miners surviving a disaster. The sum of this work led to the prevention of mining disasters and the creation of a safer and healthier work environment for coal miners in the twentieth century. The period of significance begins in 1910 with the construction of the Experimental Mine and ends in 1982 when significant experimentation related to the coal industry ceased at this location.