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Canoes In Mines?

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Benson Gray, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The Maine chapter recently had a meeting with a display of model canoes including an eight foot one as shown in Bob Bassett's pictures below. Ed Howard mentioned that he had heard of half sized canoes being used in mines on occasion. This led me to go search for any build records to document this. I didn't find any indications of any eight foot models being shipped to mining companies. There was an 11 foot long fifty pound model canoe that shipped to the Blue Bell Coal Mines of Dover, Ohio in 1943. This might have been small enough to have fit down some mine shafts. The fancy design number 43 as shown at with the name "Kitty" in gold block letters on the left bow and right stern was probably too nice to have been purchased as a working boat. A fifteen foot long flat bottom wood boat was purchased by the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company of Lucerne Mines, Penna. in 1946. This is more of a working boat but seems a bit large to be of much use in tight spaces. The State of Maine's Mining Bureau purchased a 15 foot long lightweight model canoe in 1966 but there aren't many underground mines in Maine.

    Please reply here if you have any more information about canoes and their use below ground in mining.


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    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
    1905Gerrish likes this.
  2. fred capenos

    fred capenos Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I’m not a miner, but I’ve lived in coal mine country my entire life. I know that all deep mines in this area pump water to the surface. The water goes into impoundments where it stttles out. My guess is a canoe could have been used in maintaining these ponds. Although a dingy might be a better choice.
  3. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    It could be that a canoe bought for private use, not business use, was shipped to a workplace where there would be a shipping/receiving dock and someone to sign for it, or was shipped to a business name for some other purpose. Before I retired, I often had merchandise I ordered by phone/mail/internet sent to my office because there was someone there to sign for it and to keep it secure until I picked it up (during the day, there was no one at hone to sign for anything, or to take it inside). I think this is not an uncommon practice (though I never had a canoe delivered to my office).

    Are there build records that show other delivery points that seem unlikely places for a canoe to be sent?

    Note that the address on the first build record above is in a thoroughly residential neighborhood -- and the canoe had the name "Kitty" painted on it in gold.
    Note also that the last build record above shows that the canoe was not delivered to a mine, but to the Maine State Office Building in Augusta.

    I rather doubt that either of these canoes ended up down a mine shaft or in any other business use.
  4. OP
    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Yes, my search for "coal" located many canoes that were shipped to local retail coal distributers. It was not unusual for a canoe to be delivered to a business for all of the reasons you stated and more. It is less clear why a canoe would be shipped to the "Blue Bell Coal Mines" at a residential address. Another mystery,

  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Oh, sometimes things like that are done to make something look like a business expense -- taxes, don'tcha know :rolleyes:
  6. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I'd contacted with Benson with a PM with this information, and he has encouraged me to post to the group, so here goes:

    Dover, Ohio, is not at the center of the Ohio coal country, but there is coal nearby. Deep shaft mines are rare, but there are thin seams of coal that stick out from hillsides. Some of my relatives cut coal out from these seams, bagged it, and hauled to town to make a buck during the depression. Coal mining in this region of Ohio was more frequently done by strip mining, where the 'overburden' was removed, then the coal scraped out. This left behind hundreds of small lakes. Some previously strip mined land some miles south of Dover has been opened by American Electric Power for recreational purposes:

    I have both paddled a wooden canoe and fished in strip mine lakes. After 50 years, the forest has done a remarkable job of reclaiming this land. It is not 'pristine', but it is OK. There are other lakes not far away from Dover as well as the Tuscarawas river, and Sugar Creek, all possible paddling locations for the Kane family. My guess is that Kane ordered the canoe for recreational use, not for mine use.

    So I also looked up Thomas L Kane on familysearch and find him in the 1940 US census where he is listed as a coal strip mine engineer, and as an owner. He and his wife, Margaret, are 45 with a 15 year old daughter, Carol, and 7 year old son, Kendall. Although it is not obvious which of these people might have had the nickname "Kitty", it is possible it was the wife or daughter.

    And while reading the census form for Kane, I noticed the very next name below, their next door neighbor, is in my extended family tree. Mervin McQueen is listed as a truck driver and owner. Did he haul coal away from the Blue Bell mine and deliver it to an AEP coal fired power plant to make a living? I don't know, and there are few left in the family who might know the answer. It is not likely that more of this story can be uncovered, but if I find out anything, I'll post it. Tom McCloud
  7. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Tom.
    I grew up in that strip mine country( Coshocton county Ohio) as we talked about before. We spent much of our youth ramming around those unreclaimed mine lands, a maze of dirt roads, high walls, and mine ponds. We swam, fished, and canoed those youthful summer days away. Kind of an ecological disaster but made for some fond memories.

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