About: Historic Bessie & Flat Top Coal Mines
I had the opportunity to do some maintenance work at both places in the early 80's. The underground mining was still going on at Bessie and reclaiming the fines from the washer at Flat Top was also going on then. I remember at Bessie the people telling me that the drift mine that was in operation then was the fifth (and last) entrance to the coal seam. Each opening was so they could mine in a different direction. I also remember them telling me that the name Bessie came from the daughter of the family that owned the land that was sold to Sloss. The agreement was as long as there was a mine she would have a job. By the 80's she had retired and did not work there anymore. I walked into the drift once while I was waiting to get unloaded and walked in as far as the light would go. I saw the bent timbers holding up the roof and heard strange noises in the dark of men and machines. I remember at Flat Top the hoist house and the timbers around it holding up the dirt it was sitting on. I walked on the foundation of a building that had bars on at my feet that was the roof of the jail cells below that guards could look down onto the men inside. They told me the men from there could walk in a tunnel into the mine and never really be outside in the open. The wooden sides of the building was gone but the stone foundation was there and I've always wondered if it still was or if the history police had it covered over. There were numerous air shafts with bars on the top around the area. One was pointed out to me and I was told that new prisoners thought they could climb up several hundred feet to the top of the air shaft and escape. They would get there and realize they could not escape and then call for help from the guards to unlock the bars to let them out. The guards would not let them out and make them climb back down into the mine. Several fell to their death I was told and the ones who made it down got punished for trying to escape. I really wish I would have taken a camera and recorded these places when I was going there then. I appreciate the pictures of this video to show me what it looked like before I got there.
these mines were worked by prison inmates at one point yes? them are the same tracks that ran to the maxine mine i know of a tunnel under the power line over that way