A Familiar Place

By Ed Sandene

The sign describes the role this shaft played in the rescue of the miners trapped as a result of the Pabst G shaft cave in. I knew the H shaft only as the place where I worked. Visiting this site again after so many years brought back a lot of memories and feelings. It is especially rewarding to see the historic recognition of a familiar place. Unfortunately this part of the H shaft history was unknown to me at the time.

During the years that I worked there the shaft was used only for lowering the wood products and other materials used under-ground . It also served as sort of sub shaft to hoist ore from the 31st level to the 29th level. The ore was dumped into the loading sub on the 29th level and that’s where I loaded it into cars to be taken to the East Norrie shaft where it was hoisted to surface.

I was in this shaft every day that I worked here and took the cage every day to the 13th level. This was to grease the bearings on the counterbalance skip wheels. Only one skip was used to hoist the ore this short distance, the other one was needed to keep the skip cables tight. At the main shaft 2 skips were used, so when one was being dumped on surface the other one was 2900 feet below being loaded. With well over 3000 feet of thick cable being involved it could not all be coiled onto a drum, only enough of it was on the drum to hold the loaded skip. A picure looking down the shaft shows a skip cable, or rope as it was called in the mine

In this picture I’m standing very near the spot where I stood almost 50 years ago. Just before the Penokee mine closed a couple of us had to take the cage up to bring something to surface. It was put near the shaft, not far from here. The mining heritage is an important part of our history and should not be forgotten.