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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Where the Sun Never Shines: 1908

Where the Sun Never Shines: 1908

October 1908. "Drivers in a West Virginia Coal Mine. Plenty boys driving and on tipple." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Son of a Miner

Those are oil lamps on their heads, not candles. They also used carbide lamps. Don't feel too badly for the horses (usually mules), my dad said they typically worked shorter shifts. He worked in the mines at about this same era as a boy, from around 1910 to 1955.

The lucky ones

These lads and their pony are being photographed near the bottom of the shaft - they have room to stand up! The guys who cut the coal (hewers) would work on their knees or lying on their hips, swinging pickaxes for hour after hour, and breathing in all sorts of dust. Don't ever let anyone romanticise coalmining. I come from near Newcastle, and I know that the earth under my feet contains the bones of centuries of colliers. Horrible!


I think this photo will give me nightmares. Just creeps me out.


Those are candles on their heads? Send the expendable ones down first!

[Gasoline or oil headlamps with open flames. More here. - Dave]


About to be immortalized on film, and the one on the left shuts his eyes. It looks like he led a bit of a miserable life; shame he couldn't even get the photo.

Poor horse, too, of course.

[Both his eyes are open -- and closed -- in this time exposure. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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