Production in the Gilded Age for the United States was booming. However, this brought many problems with the rising of business competition and fight for power. Competition and production went hand in hand as the labor of the people were used to its fullest extent. A good example of mass production and decreasing value in working conditions was that of coal. Coal was absolutely explosive showing growth rates of up to 800% between 1865 and 1898. With this increase, there was certainly a significant amount of labor needed to meet the demands of a country with new market segmentations and needs. Business owners sought faster production for coal with machinery. Faster production is synonymous with faster profit and revenue. With such a huge demand for products, the need could only be fed with fast access to its supply and a faster process with means of production. Machinery could solve only a few needs for coal production, such as cutting. The digging for coal was a still unaddressed need with regards to machinery. The work of a coal miner in the 1870’s was not an easy task.
A coal miner in the 1870’s had few tools to assist him. The a sledge eight to ten pounds in weight, several steel wedges six to eight inches long, three to six picks from two and a half to three pounds in weight, with handles twenty-eight to thirty-two inches in length, a set of drilling tools, to wit: A drill, a scraper, a needle, and a tamping bar; frequently the drill and tamping bar are made of one piece, one end being used for a drill and the other for a tamper. Two miners work together in rooms and entries while they keep each other company and assist in setting props. One watches while the other works in dangerous situations, and if one is caught the other can raise the alarm and call in adjoining comrades to the rescue. Another serious danger to the coal miners was the prevalence of water in the mines. This problem would arise due to the depth of the digging to extract coal from underground.
All mines have water in them. In many drift mines, particularly in those in which the workings extend to the rise of the strata, the water is discharged by gravitation. In slopes and shafts natural drainage is impossible, and the waters of the mine must be pumped or lifted out by steam power.
In Lackawanna County, Wisconsin a coal miner field in which 4,500 people depend on coal mining for heat and power was providing for the community as well as business in America was intended, or so they thought. During the news crew’s visit to the mines, they discover that many young boys are being employed by the coal mining company. Although there are laws to protect boys that work under the age of 16 with paper work and parent’s permission, this was rarely the case behind the underage workers. These laws are not protected due to the greed for economic and political advancement by the State’s representatives who are solely responsible for the regulation of these laws.
The article continues to describe an area of the coal mining fields called the breaker. This is where most of the young boys employed would be stationed. The breaker is deafeningly loud and would smash a small child to bits. One would think that the children are rough around the edges and miserable, but the case it quite the contrary. Boys would be full of appetite and often bicker with each other during work. But, due to young boys curiosity would often lead to injury or death. In some cases, a boy would wander too close to a chute and be smothered by coal, or inhale excessive amounts of coal dust which is extremely cancerous.
No industry in the State is so demoralizing and injurious to boys as the anthracite coal industry. For the last half a century these