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Been a Miner: 1939

Been a Miner: 1939

January 1939. "Unemployed miner. Herrin, Illinois." Medium format negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

        Williamson County, Illinois, once produced 11 million tons of coal per year, and led the state in output. Since 1923, output has steadily declined until now it falls short of 2 million tons. At one time, sixteen mine-whistles blowing to work could be heard from the center of Herrin. Now only two mines are running and those will probably be abandoned within the next year. The Herrin office of the United Mine Workers of America was once the most active in the state. Today it is no longer self-sustaining. These pictures were taken in the Herrin UMWA office on a day when the mines were not working. They show the type of miners still employed in Williamson County but faced with the almost certain prospect of being discarded by the industry when the last mine is closed. (A.R., Jan. 1939)


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Mine whistle blowing

Growing up in a bituminous soft coal mining town. The mine whistle blew every evening at 7 to tell the union miners there was work the next day. Hasn't blown in a long time. But I can still hear the whistle.

He paid his two bits

I had to zoom into the full size to make out the stubble on this guy. He might not have much in life, but he has access to a good razor.

Yikes! Looks like Dad!

The man in the picture looks a lot like my father. I know it's not him, because in 1939, Dad was in the Civilian Conservation Corps building shelters at Yellowstone Park.

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