Immersed in suffocating dust and darkness, coal miners still arguably face some of the harshest working conditions in the world. Indeed, the warren of tunnels crisscrossing the coal-rich hills of the U.S. was largely dug before workers’ rights emerged. And this collection of historical images reveals what life was like for the men who toiled in those early mines.
Now whatever may be said of the mining industries and their negative impacts, coal has fueled incredible social transformations. Before the adoption of oil as a major energy source, coal was widely used to power houses,and drive steam engines. Moreover, without coal there may never have been an industrial revolution.