« AnteriorContinuar »
colleges can form a union from which all of us may receive much benefit. At first the weaker will derive more assistance than the stronger, but as time goes on the situation will tend to equalize, and mutual aid and assistance will result.
PRESIDENT MARSTON.—This discussion on engineering extension work began with Pennsylvania, and the formal part of it closes with a report from West Virginia by Dean Jones.
MINE EXTENSION IN WEST VIRGINIA.
DEAN C. R. JONES, MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA.
When Dean Bissell asked me to discuss the subject of engineering extension work, I replied that none of the subjects listed came within our experience and that the only contribution that I could make would be a review of the progress which we have made in mining extension.
The work we are doing in West Virginia is in the organization stage and I did not realize, when I made the promise, that this meeting would be held before any actual results of class instruction could be obtained. I can only give you at this time a brief outline of the conditions to be met, our working plan, and the reception thus far accorded to the men in the field.
The coal operations in the northern part of the state are principally confined to the rich agricultural and grazing sections of the Monongahela and Ohio valleys where the land was cleared and settled long before the beginning of the commercial development of the coal seams. The people who live in this section are of hardy pioneer stock and compare favorably with those in any other section of the country as regards intelligence, culture, education, morals and standard of living. The mining development was gradual, consequently there is a large percentage of native element among the mine workers. The foreign element coming in in relatively small numbers at one time has been quickly absorbed and assimilated. No matter what their previous living conditions may have been, close contact with a superior civilization very soon had its effect upon the manners and living conditions of the new comers. This developed on the whole a desirable civilization.
All of these mining communities have access to well organized common schools and most of them are in reach of good high schools. The actual demand for extension schools in this part of the state is not pressing, though such work is being called for.
In the southern part of the state the coal operations are in rugged mountainous sections where the valleys are narrow, the hill sides almost precipitous and the ridges sharp. In fact, the topography of the country reminds one of the saw-tooth form of roof construction. Here agricultural development before the coal development was confined to a few clearings here and there and the population in many communities being limited to a few simple mountain folk. The coal development was rapid, almost phenomenal in fact. The operators who bought up these coal lands built railroads up the valleys, established mining camps far away from the influence of any previously established civilization. At least two-thirds of the miners had to be imported, and as one might expect, they are composed of a mixture of races. Of course, there is more or less migration, but in a general way these people are not in close contact with the outside world and in many localities are ignorant of the modern living conditions.
The operators and the Industrial Y. M. C. A. have been making
strenuous efforts along many lines of improvement, but their efforts are often misunderstood. Without actual contact with the outside world their progress, until recently, has been slow and insistent calls for educational assistance have been made.
(Note.—There are many exceptions to this general statement, both north and south. Occasionally one sees a splendid old mansion even in the mountain district, where may be found all the refinements possible to country life. Since this paper was read before the association the writer has made a ten-day trip through the Kanawha and New River districts and is pleased to note that both the operators and workers are making rapid strides toward making living conditions in the mining communities as good as those enjoyed by the skilled worker in other lines in the larger towns.)
We have selected as a beginning point a portion of this latter field, namely the Kanawha and New River districts. Eight centers have been chosen as follows: Ramage, Burnwell, Dacota, Montgomery, Raleigh, McAlpin, Stotesbury and Athens. These centers have been selected because of their accessibility from nearby towns.
Briefly speaking, the objects sought in the extension movement are:
1. To promote opportunities of the young men and even mature men, of the mining sections, for advancement and improvement which are now denied them, or of which their environment has kept them in ignorance.
2. To promote the mining industry by supplying better miners, foremen, fire bosses, and superintendents.
3. To spread the welfare movement among the mining population.
4. To promote the adoption of more efficient methods of mining, such as will result in the recovery of a larger percentage of coal and add to the safety and efficiency of the mining operations.
The proposition has been studied from various angles and many conferences have been held with representatives of the Industrial Y. M. C. A., operators and engineers, but it was not until last spring that we succeeded in securing the services of a man qualified to undertake the work. In looking for a man we used the following specifications. He should be:
1. A good mixer, a good organizer, and a fairly good speaker, who can talk to miners of all classes.
2. He should know coal mining from a practical standpoint and be familiar with West Virginia conditions.
3. It is desirable, though not essential, that he be a college man, and if he possesses a degree of mining engineering, it would add to his prestige.
After studying the qualifications of many applicants, Professor Robert S. Gatherum was finally selected. He made a start in the mines of West Virginia as a trapper boy when 14 years old; later he fired the furnace used in mine ventilation, and as he grew older he took to mining and wielded the pick for eight years, some of this last period being spent in the mines of Scotland. In this way he accumulated sufficient money to secure an education as civil and mining engineer at West Virginia University and followed this by experience in engineering in the New River and Kanawha fields. For the last three years he has been a teacher and head of the department of mathematics and sciences at Concord State Normal School, located at Athens, near these mining fields. For a long time he had been making a study of his own on how to introduce extension work in the mining fields.
With only one active man in the field it would be impossible for him to accomplish much work alone, making it necessary in order
to secure results to co-operate with the local forces at each center. At the Normal School at Athens, where the students largely come from the mining sections and who expect to teach in their home communities, classes in mining have been organized under the supervision of Mr. Gatherum. The preparatory school at Montgomery has a small appropriation for secondary work in mining and the plan is to employ a practical mining man who will work under the direction of Professor Gatherum. He will conduct night schools for the miners and give instruction to the day pupils. He will also render some assistance in the field at points near Montgomery. At other centers the regular class work will be conducted by the Y. M. C. A. secretaries, by teachers in the public schools or by resident mining engineers.
The work may be said to be divided into two different parts. (1) Illustrated lectures and demonstrations by the field man, which will be open to all, and (2) the organization and supervision of the regular night classes.
The first step in the progress of organization at any center is the arrangement for a lecture and motion picture demonstration. In making these arrangements, the field man personally visits the towns selected, consults with the operators, the Y. M. C. A. secretary, if the operation supports such an organization, and any others who may be interested, in order to gain as much information as possible in regard to opportunities for work and the needs of the community. This is followed up with a lecture at the close of which the plans for organization are discussed and arrangements are made for the formation of classes.
At later visits he shows lantern slides portraying the proper and improper methods of performing mine tasks, views showing improvements in sanitation, play grounds, well kept yards and gardens around mining villages, etc. The next time it may be a demonstration of mine gases, such as fire damp, black damp, white damp, and stink damp. These gases will be carried by the lecturer in tanks under high pressure. The demonstration with fire damp will consist in showing by means of a small balance that it is lighter than air, that it is not a supporter of combustion or life and that mixed with a certain proportion of air it becomes explosive. With the same balance will be shown the higher specific gravity of black damp, its failure to support combustion or life and its incombustability, and the percentage at which lights go out. The extreme danger that lurks in white damp is shown by introducing a small amount in an air tight box in which birds or mice have been placed. Similar interesting tests will be made by using stink damp.
At subsequent periods, first aid methods will be shown, proper methods of sounding roof for loose slate, setting of posts, caring for explosives, etc. In the lecture work technical terms will be avoided and the terms of the miners substituted as largely as possible. The pictures and demonstrations will be largely of a character that foreigners who do not understand English will get through the eye what they fail to understand through the ear.
The plan is for the field man to visit each center not less than twice a month at which time he will carefully check up the work for the time during which he was absent and plan the work for the next period. In addition to the public lectures he will give special talks to the night classes adapted to their stage of development.
As the mines must be kept in operation, methods similar to those adopted by the Agricultural Experiment Station which consist of institutes of one or two days duration and schools from four days
to two weeks in length are not practical. To be of great value to the individual miner the work must continue over a considerable period of time and done at night. Consequently, while it will be the part of the work of the field man to organize classes of instruction in each place visited, the work must be carried on between visits by some local man who is qualified for the work. The courses of instruction, the instructional papers will be those prepared by or recommended by the Department of Mining of the University and will be chosen for their special fitness to the conditions. Subjects of the most elementary character will doubtless have to be taught in addition to such subjects as mine gases, mine ventilation, mining methods, first aid work, etc.
There is also a fertile field for rural extension work, and social settlement work. Correspondence is now under way with the Department of the Interior for education in home gardening. It is also expected that the Departments of Home Economics and Agriculture at the University will render assistance along their appropriate lines.
The equipment provided so far consists of motion picture machine and 4,000 feet of film, showing the mining of coal from the examination made by the fire boss to the loading of the coal under the tipple; 400 lantern slides showing the safe and unsafe manner of performing mine tasks, how accidents may be avoided; views on sanitation and general welfare conditions pertaining to mining. All the types of electric lamps now approved by the United States Bureau of Mines; first aid cabinet to demonstrate first aid treatment; all the apparatus required for the generation of the different gases common to mining and material necessary to demonstrate their properties to the miners. Annemometers, water gauges, hygrodeiks, barometers, etc., necessary for the instruction of future mine foremen.
The progress of the movement can be best illustrated by typical extracts from the reports of Professor Gatherum. It should be stated here that owing to sickness in his family, Professor Gatherum did not get started until late in September.
The first report bears the date of September 22, 1914, and gives the result of Mr. Gatherum's first visit to a point from which calls for educational assistance had been received. The officials and the workmen of the company operating at this point are somewhat estranged owing to recent labor agitations. The town is not far from Charleston and is favorably located for spreading all sorts of propaganda. The miners read and discuss literature of a character which keep them in a state of unrest. I do not know the issues at stake and would not have you draw the conclusion that the miners are at fault. These facts are merely mentioned for the purpose of throw. ing more light on the extracts from the report:
The superintendent says "the men are somewhat discontented and a little hard to handle. He has some who are anxious to improve themselves and he is anxious to help them. The situation is this. To the miner, anything that the operator introduces or promotes is something they should avoid. He cited me instances of his trying to do something for them and which they turned down.
“He says he will do anything to help the work, will teach himself, will arrange for the pictures and have the principal of the school help out too. There is one condition though that he mentions and that is, the men must make the first step and come to the front and show their willingness to go ahead.
“We went out to see the man who runs a moving picture show and arranged with him to run the films. I agreed to have them there at the time decided upon. The man is to run the pictures and just before
the last reel I will call a meeting of all those who are interested in the work, and set the ball rolling then by enrolling them and getting classes started."
The remainder of the report deals with the situation at Montgomery which has already been considered.
To this part of the letter Professor Zern replied:
"Your letter from Montgomery at hand. I am not surprised that you found things rather upset at
as I am aware they have been having trouble there for some time. I think your plan for meeting the situation is very good. I would suggest in talking to these men that you make it clear that our work has not the least connection with any operation; we are partisan to neither operator nor labor union, but the friend of all. I believe I would also make it clear that the acceptance or rejection of the help offered rests with the workmen. We are willing and anxious to do our share, but this is more than a one man proposition. Co-operation is essential. The superintendent's experience is the experience of many who have attempted to work; the laborer suspects graft or gain for the company in anything that is offered him—and usually this attitude is predicated upon something that has gone before. It would be well, I believe, to find out who the influential men are with the workmen, and see them personally, and solicit their co-operation. In that way perhaps it will be more emphasized than any other that we are allied only with the educational side and in league with no one. appreciate that the situation there is delicate, but that makes the opportunity all the greater and eventually must lead to a better understanding on both sides.”
The next report relating to this point is dated November 2: “The first mining town the films were used at was
The superintendent seemed to be very anxious
get the work started there but seemed to think that the miners would have to make their way alone. He suggested that there were some few young men he would like to help, and that after the work was well started he could give some aid. He also stated that everything the operator advocated the miners avoided.
"I talked with one of the mine foremen (a man whom I had known for the past eighteen years and who can neither read nor write), and he first wanted to know how the superintendent felt about it. In talking with the men, some expressed themselves thus: 'It is a good thing, but no use for me now. Some said it was not any use study. ing for mine foreman as they were not on the favored list, etc., etc.
"The superintendent was to have had a banner advertising the pictures but he did not. However, we had a full house and I stated my purpose in being among them and asked those who were interested to meet me the following night at Miner's Hall. Next night only one man appeared at the hall and that one was myself. It should be stated that the night was very stormy.
“Possibly the strike they had there lately and the trouble regårding the coming election had something to do with the condition of affairs there. Although seven men later agreed to take up the work, various delays have made it necessary to postpone work at this point and it is not included in the list of centers mentioned.”
The situation at Burnwell, September 28, 1914:
"Referring to Burnwell: Quin Morton's first words were: 'You have struck at an inopportune moment.' He went on to say that the work was wanted and that he thought things could be arranged 0. K. if he could get some orders for coal, but that they would have