Penokee Mine Memories: A Shining Moment

By Ed Sandine

My work station was on the 29th level at the Pabst H shaft which was located near Jesseville, just east of the Bonnie road. The shaft was an incline shaft instead of vertical as some of the others. The slope was about 70 degrees to the North which put the 29th level loading sub where I worked, about 2900 feet below the old County Road.

All of this is leading to something which is related to the incline of the shaft. During the day shift the air tool mechanic was at his work station at the end of the drift not far from my work station. He told me to go to the 29th level station around noon on this certain day. This was the day and it was clear and sunny and I was on day shift. If there was a lot of dirt I was prepared to signal the hoisting engineer to stop the skip. My motorman joined me and we waited for the moment to arrive.
The picture shows Jim Forslund and I at the 29th level station. Behind us is the shaft which is all important in this event. There was some lighting in this area because it was a work area at times. It was where the supplies from surface were unloaded and where men got on and off the cage. The miners and others who worked on the 31st level boardedhere as did I when I went to the 13th level to grease the counterbalance skip. The general lighting in the main drifts was dim, just barely enough to see objects and people.

Sometimes during the summer a thunderstorm would cause a power outage. And all of the lights would go out. This is when it becomes obvious what real darkness is. I often turned off the light on my helmet just to experience this, it was DARK! One thing I didn’t realize until now when I think about this, there was no way we could have got to surface during these times. With no electricity, everything, including the cage, skips, tuggers etc stopped. It seems scary now.

When it was near noon we went to the shaft and waited All of a sudden, the shaft and the whole area around us lit up as bright as it was outside. The sun shone directly into the shaft for a brief moment and then faded. Soon it looked like a mining scene again.

This happened during the summer when the sun was at just the right spot so that it would shine directly into the shaft. The angle of the shaft to the South was the contributing factor to this phenomenon. This unusual scene was visible only in the area close to the shaft. I saw this only that one time and will never forget it. It’s another one of the fond memories that remains from those days.

An article in the July 10, 1946 Daily Globe described this same event happening at the Anvil Mine. It states that it lasted for several minutes and a newspaper could be read without the aid of artificial light. This happened during the week of July 10 and lasted for several days. The Anvil shaft was a vertical shaft while the Pabst shaft was an incline shaft. As mentioned earlier the incline was at an angle from the South to the North. The sun would therefore have shone earlier at the Pabst shaft because of the angle toward the South.