|Bert Morrow Jr.
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The Coronach area has been blessed with several excellent coal deposits, which were extensively mined during the first part of the 20thCentury. Several mines popped up in the 1930s, as settlers looked for new ways to bring in money during trying economic times.
The first recorded mining in the area was at the NWMP post at Big Muddy. As more and more settlers came in, there was a greater demand for coal, and several mines began to pop up.
The Morrow Mine was started in 1934 by Bert Morrow Sr., who filed a lease for a coal mine in the Big Muddy Badlands. The mine was started along with Charlie Chartrand, whose father John, also lent assistance. Several of the Morrow boys also had a time working in the small mine. The tunnels ran roughly one-quarter mile back, with many rooms branching off from the main shaft. The main coal seam was located about 90 feet from the top of the hill and measured 20 feet thick. Using mining powder, the coal was blasted out. The coal was then hauled to the surface with a small cart with men pushing it or the small pinto mare named Dot pulling it.
In the 1940s, a slide covered the entrance but once that was cleared away, mining continued. After a few cave-ins in that decade, the mine officially closed in 1948.
In 1931, Austin Lee and his sons opened up the Lee Mine, which mined lignite coal. The earth was removed using a plough and scraper drawn by a series of horses. The ground was stripped to a depth of about five feet. As time went on and the coal went deeper, the men dug deeper and deeper into the hill. By 1944, a tractor was brought in to scrape away the Earth, to access the coal 20 feet below the surface. In all, 1,000 tonnes of coal came out of the mine before it was officially closed in 1949.
In 1927, Jesse and Esther Fister bought a mine that had been started earlier, but had been abandoned as the tunnels were too lengthy, making removal of coal difficult. Jesse had worked in the mine years ago, and upon purchasing the mine he began to open up new entrances further in the valley. The mine had one long tunnel with several small rooms leading from it. Two air shafts were dug to vent fumes, and the coal was loaded by hand into half-ton cars that were pushed to the entrance, or pulled, by the mule Jack. The track was sloped, allowing for a gentle push to send the car back down into the mine without needing to push it all the way. Most of the coal was mined using picks and shovels, with some mining powder used. The coal was a popular lignite that was very much in demand. As time went on and the rooms became unsafe, Jesse hired men with horses and fresnos to strip the top soil off the mine, going down 60 feet. While there were many dangers in the mine, no one ever died. The mine eventually closed later in the 20th century.