« FöregåendeFortsätt »
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL.
STATE OF MISSOURI,
} To the Hon. HENRY BLACKMORE, Labor Commissioner, Jefferson City, Mo.:
SIR-I have the honor to submit this the eighth annual report on tbe coal mines of Missouri, for the year ending June 30, 1894.
The past year has been the most disastrous to the business and to the miner ever experienced by the coal industry in this State. The alarming and serious conditions growing out of the business stagnation, and the prolonged, universal and unprecedented strike, are too well known to you to justify me in further mention of them. I desire, however, to thank you for the timely and lively interest displayed and exercised by you during the season of unrest, uncertainty and alarm, and for the personal aid and assistance rendered me in many of the trying and perplexing situations which we passed through. I am, above all things, truly thankful that the troublous times passed with so little of violence, and that the miner 8 of the State have acted so wisely and prudently. Mr. J. W. Marsteller deserves special mention in connection with this report. He has at all times shown a deep interest in everything pertaining to tbe mining industry. He is accurate in calculations and adept as a draughtsman, and to his fidelity and capability much credit is due for the statistical presentation, and his suggestions bave been valuable in other directions; all of which I take pleasure in acknowledging. I thank you, and through you your office assistants, for very many favors shown me.
State Mine Inspector.
During the fiscal year ending Jane 30, 1894, I have made over 300 inspections, with reference to the safety, sanitary condition and ventilation of mines, and to sacure an escapement for the miners in case of danger.
The mines have been visited as often as the condition seemed to require. Where a deficiency in the ventilation was found, or the safety of the miner neglected, instructions were given to have the evils remedied at once; and with very few exceptions, where orders have been given, they have been complied with in a reasonable time, although some of the mines had to be visited the fourth time to enforce a compliance. The hardest and most difficult task I had to contend with during the past year was to secure an avenue of escape for the miners in case of accident, and was compelled to close down several mines for non-compliance with the law.
My experience with quite a number of the coal companies of the State, within the last year, in the matter of escapement shafts, has been a very trying and annoying one.
The beginning of the fiscal year found many coal companies in the position of having already, and for too long a period, violated the law with reference to the time when escapement shafts should be sunk.
Feeling that I had no discretion in the matter, but must obey the law, I determined that all coal mines requiring escape-shafts, in accordance with law, must either be supplied with such escape or be closed. With this in view, every effort has been made to have an escape-shaft sunk where required.
A glance at the table on improvements in this report will show more escapement shafts sunk during the past year than the record of any two previous years. Out of 365 mines operated last year, there is but one mine which has neglected to comply with the demand made for an escape-shaft, and in this case suit has been ordered against the operator. Among the many shafts ordered sunk, there were a number that had to be sunk from two hundred to nearly five hundred feet deep. With those familiar with this kind of undertaking, the importance of such work is easily understood, as it contemplates the employment of more men, more power and machinery, and the expenditure of thousands of dollars. For any company such requirements may well be considered a serious matter; and, unfortunately, in the prosecution of this work, parties were required to sink such shaft, whose financial abilities were not equal to such undertaking. I call to mind instances where the coal companies were laboring under the disadvantages of deep shafts, faulty and uncertain coal, the price of mining in excess of competitors; the hard times of the past year resulting from a strin. gency in money matters; strikes, with the attending expense of keeping the mine in repair; with very little business or income, and when business was offered it was met by the sharpest competition; in fact, these mines were simply paying labor and operating expenses. The men interested in these mines had their little all of hard-earned savings tied up in a business producing no revenue, and with small prospect of ever receiving any; yet, from a hope inborn in man, they were anxious to proceed, trusting to some chance or change by which the situation might be improved. Then, to be faced with the threat that the shaft, which they have no ready means to sink, must be sunk or the mine closed, is indeed a serious matter-knowing as they did that to close the mine was ruin, and to sink the shaft was to borrow or go down in their pockets and throw more good money after bad.
The appeals from these men for more time (with a full knowledge of the situation), to me were most reasonable ; and had the enforcement of the law been left to my discretion and judgment, I would have been only too glad to say to them, “Go ahead, do the best you can, and sink the shaft when times are better.” This feeling was fortified by appeals made by the miners for whose especial benefit the law was enacted; they would come to me and insist on not shutting down the mine; times with them had been extremely hard, work was slack everywhere, they know not where to go if work was shut off, nor did they have the means to take them with their families to other points. This placed me between two fires, but I am consoled in the reflection that the law is a good one and should stand, and that while its provi. sions may work a hardship on a few isolated cases, yet the great body of miners throughout the State are made safer and healthier, and it is better that a few members should suffer, rather than the entire body.
The sanitary conditions of the mines have been greatly improved during the past year, as will be seen by reference to the table of im. provements in this respect. Twenty-four escapement-sbafts and 15 second air.shafts have been sunk, 6 fans have been erected and 18 fur