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Tipples and Head Frames

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In the early underground coal mines, the most obvious structure at the mine site or "pit head" was the "tipple" and, at some mines, the "head frame." These structures were usually built on a railway siding so that coal from the mine could be loaded into railway hopper cars for shipment. The head frame was a tall structure, often with large wheels at the top, over which cables, from a large winch, were run into the mine. These were connected to the mine "cage" or elevator which was used to transport the miners and the coal from the workings deep under ground. In the Crowsnest, where many of the coal seams ran at an angle from the surface into the mountain sides, the mine often did not need the large head frame buildings and elevators.

The tipple was the large building that usually included a rotary dumper for emptying the mine cars that were used to bring the coal and waste rock up from the mine. From the dumper, the coal was moved on conveyors to screens where it was sorted according to size and quality and waste rock was removed from the coal on a "picking table." Much of the work on the picking table was done by hand, often by older miners, injured men or young boys.


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