Edwin Ryan, Retired Coal Miner, Newcastle Bridge

I was born in Minto in 1915. My dad was a coal miner. I was about 14 years old when I started in the mines. Starting in coal mining was very simple. If you wanted to eat you had to work, that's that. I started oiling boxes at a shaft for the Minto Coal Company. I got a dollar a day. I didn't work there very long, then I went wheelin. After that a fellow just graduates into diggin. I've done just about everything in a coal mine, I guess. I even helped dig a few fellows out that got buried.

It surprised me that I worked in so many shafts. The shafts weren't deep and they had to move them every so often or sink a new shaft. Instead of making haulages to haul the coal, they would just sink another shaft about 3000 or 4000 feet away and just start all over again.

I retired three years ago. When I retired I was hauling coal, trucking. You made more money trucking but I kind of missed the underground. Trucking was easier and you were in the fresh air all the time. There is something about mines, once you've worked in them, you miss them. One thing is – it's the guys that work in them – a great gang. When they had all the shafts here and the different companies, you could always get a job somewhere. Take a good miner, he never had to worry about his job.

I worked 58 years in the coal industry in Minto.