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This story from the AEP Fuel Supply "Coal Courier"

Vol 7 No.10 Oct 1983 Pages 12-21.



AEP's oldest affiliated mining operation traces its history back to 1899. One of the oldest continuously operated mining concerns in West Virginia, Windsor Power House Coal Company traces its roots back to 1899 - an era when mules were used to pull coal out of the mine and a natural draft furnace was used to provide ventilation underground.

Since the founding of Windsor Coal Company in 1919, the Beech Bottom mine - located approximately 10 miles north of downtown Wheeling - has produced more than 40 million tons of coal for electric generation, and has earned a reputation as one of the most stable and efficiently operated mines in the Ohio Valley.

Throughout its history of more than 60 years, Windsor Power House Coal Company has combined above average productivity with a superlative effort in safety. The company which presently has an annual production capability of about 900,000 clean tons, has not had a fatal accident since 1957, an achievement almost unheard of in the mining industry.

At least a part of Windsor's safety achievement can be attributed to the Beech Bottom mine's unique "family atmosphere" that sill pervades the mining operation today. Among Windsor's 350 employees are a number of second-, third and even fourth generation miners whose fathers and grandfathers were employed at the Beech Bottom mine.

In recent years, approximately $20 million has been invested in modernizing the coal-washing, coal handling and environmental aspects of the Windsor operation. These improvements, a new acid mine drainage treatment plant, a new coal conveyor and barge loader on the Ohio River, plus reclamation of two old refuse areas- have given the AEP system's oldest affiliated mining operation a brand-new look for the 1980's.


Though the Beech Bottom mine began production in 1899, it was the construction of the AEP system's first "super" generating station, Windsor Plant, that provided the impetus for the present-day mining operation.

Actually, Windsor was conceived built, operated and owned jointly by two companies; the American Electric Power System's Ohio Power Company (although it was then the American Gas and Electric System's Central Power Company) and the West Penn Power Company (which today is part of the Allegheny Power System). Such an arrangement was unprecedented at the time.

AEP Pres. Richard E. Breed wanted to build a large, new plant that would serve the system's properties in eastern Ohio and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. He learned that West Penn also wanted to build such a facility to serve its customers in western Pennsylvania and also in the West Virginia panhandle. Breed proposed that they join hands and build a bigger plant that would benefit both, and West Penn agreed.

Construction of the Windsor Plant was begun late in 1915. Its original design consisted of four 30,000 kilowatt generating units, two per owner. The first of the four was placed in service in 1917, during World War I, and being an Ohio Power unit, its output was delivered over a new 138,000-volt transmission line to Canton, Ohio, a major industrial center 55 miles to the northwest.

It wasn't the first case of building a power station near the coal and water and transporting the energy in the form of electricity - rather than transporting the coal to a distant power plant - but, at the time, it was the first large-scale use of this "coal-by-wire" concept.

Windsor, incidentally, was named for the tiny community in which it was located. And it was John B. Garden, general manager of nearby Wheeling Electric Power, who served as AEPs agent in buying the land for the plant.

Construction of the Windsor Plant marked the beginning of the end for the local, small-plant approach to electric power supply that had been the rule since the 1880's. A number of tiny, local power plants were able to pass into retirement after Windsor went into service.

AEP and West Penn began their involvement in the coal industry in 1918, when they formed the Electric Mining Company and purchased property from Beech Bottom Coal Company.

The following year, AEP and West Penn purchased the Richland Block Coal Company and changed its name to Windsor Coal Company. Richland Black had leased reserves from Beech Bottom Coal as far back as 1913.

In Sep 1920, the Penn American Company was formed for the purpose of acquiring an additional 7,000 acres of coal reserves from James Paisley. Then in Dec 1920, the two utilities formed Windsor Power House Coal Company for the purpose of consolidating the properties owned by the Electric Mining Company, Windsor Coal Company and Penn American Company.


When the Electric Mining Company took over operation of the Beech Bottom mine in 1918, the mine's portal was located in Schoolhouse Hollow, just behind what is now the Windsor maintenance shop.

Coal was transported from the Beech Bottom mine to the new power plant by means of a steeply sloping track that snaked its way down the hollow and crossed West Virginia State Route 2 at a point about a half mile south of where the company's barge loader is located today.

Just a few feet away from the portal of the mine itself, a giant winch lowered the loaded cars down the incline to the power plant, then pulled the empty cars - sometimes filled with mine supplies- back up the slope.

Electric Mining, and later Windsor Power House, always used electric-powered vehicles known simply to miners as "motors" for pulling coal from the mine, but oldtimers say the mule barns from the very early 1900's remained on the property for several years following the changeover.

In 1921, the coal company began construction of a new means for transporting its product to the power plant - a tipple, perched on the hillside across the highway from, and just south of, the generating plant, plus a conveyor belt system.

When the Windsor Power House Coal Company's new tipple was completed in 1922, it was considered a marvel of engineering. The mine-car dumping system, which unloaded the coal, featured the most up-to-date technology. A large shaker table enabled two workers to hand-pick large pieces of rock from the coal before it started the downward path to the power plant.

The rock which was hand-picked from the streams of coal was shipped to Schoolhouse Hollow by means of an aerial tramway - a 6600 foot skyway (round trip) with 26 buckets which were pulled at a rate of 340 feet per minute.

Operators inside the tipple could load nearly a ton of rock into one of the 400 pound buckets, each of which dumped its load inside the hollow once it reached an automatic tripping device.

Later, after the community of Windsor Heights was built, a 56-ton house coal bin was installed near the last tower of the tramway. The miners' supply of house coal was replenished from time to time by diverting lump coal into the chute that normally carried rock from the picking tables, and adjusting the tripping mechanism so that the tram buckets emptied into the coal bin.


In 1923, an addition to the Windsor Plant increased its generating capacity to 180,000 kilowatts and boosted the demand for coal. But mechanization in the coal mines was unheard of during the "Roaring Twenties", The system of mining was a back-breaking and time-consuming method known as "hand-loading". During the hand-loading era, employment at the Beech Bottom mine reached its peak, with approximately 700 men on its payroll.

Under the hand-loading system, cutting machine operators would enter the mine in the evening, often around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. and would cut the coal in 20 to 30 different working faces (there normally eight faces, or entries, in a section) preparing it for drilling and shooting.

After working 10 to 12 hours ( a cutter's pay was based strictly upon his output), the cutter left the mine, and in the early morning, the hand loaders began their work. Under the "buddy" system, hand loaders normally worked in pairs, with two men to a room. This "buddy" system was often the manner in which fathers introduced their sons to the mining business. They would drill and shoot the coal that had been cut the previous night, then load it into the mine cars with shovels.

The hand loaders, who had to pay for their own shooting materials, normally worked under what was called a "clean-up system". That is, if the hand loaders did not load and "clean up" all the coal that had been cut for them, the coal cutter would not cut any additional coal for them the following night.

On paydays, however, the miners were usually intent on getting out of the mine as quickly as possible. It was not uncommon, on payday, for hand loaders to ask the coal cutter to give them a "short-cut" - perhaps only three feet deep - so they could leave work earlier.

As the hand loaders filled their mine cars ( and tagged them so that they would get credit for the tonnage ), an employee known as a "snapper" would attach a rope to a filled car, so that a motor could pull it out of the section. Scurrying from face to face and hooking up mine cars, snappers were among the busiest workers underground.


Beech Bottom mine was one of only a handful of mines in the Ohio Valley that kept working throughout the Depression years. Despite the stock market crash and the closing of many business and industries, the mine was able to keep on working three days a week.

For Windsor Power House Coal. 1932 and 1933 represented the worst of the Depression. Faced with the necessity of making a layoff, coal company officials decided to furlough the younger men on the payroll who were living at home and giving a portion of their paycheck to their parents. Men who had family responsibilities, for the most part, were able to stay on the job.

But even that layoff was short-lived. The younger miners were furloughed in 1932 and recalled in 1933, the same year that the United Mine Workers local was organized at Windsor. When the UMWA local was formed at the Beech Bottom mine, hand loaders were earning 54 cents a ton.


Windsor was one of the first coal companies in the Ohio Valley to introduce mechanization into the underground mining. The Depression had caused relatively little disruption and displacement of the work force compared with the advent of conventional mining at Beech Bottom in 1938.

Introduction of the coal-loading machines substantially reduced the number of employees needed at Beech Bottom. Work crews were set up for the conventional mining process, with different individuals assigned to handle the cutting machine, the loading machine, the drill, the short firing, and the timbering. Because of mechanization, the Windsor work force was reduced to about 400 employees.

At that time, however, conventional mining was carried out with track-mounted equipment. That means that the track in each face of each section had to be extended every day to enable the production equipment to reach the workplace.

Mechanization of the Beech Bottom mine was carried out at about the same time that Windsor miners were switching from carbide lamps to the battery-powered electric lamps that are used today. Miners, of course had to buy their own carbide lamps and flints to provide light to work by underground, and until the 1943 contract between the UMWA and the coal industry, miners were charged a few cents each day for rental of their battery-powered lamps.

The years of mechanization also correspond with the changeover in miner's hats. Up until the mid-1930's, miners wore cloth caps that afforded very little protection. Then, miners began using hats with a harder surface; known as "turtle" caps, that were the forerunner of today's hard hats.


After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Sunday December 7, 1941 dozens upon dozens of Windsor employees flocked to their local draft board to enlist in the Army or Navy. Many of them were rebuffed.

The nation needs coal, they were told. Miners were more valuable in the mines than in foxholes or on the front lines. The Windsor Plant had been expanded two more times - to 240,000 kilowatts in 1939 and to 300,000 kilowatts in 1941 - and its appetite for coal increased proportionately.

During the war years, the Beech Bottom mine worked six days a week, and the mine posted annual production totals (slightly over a million tons per year), that still stand as records today. By contrast, the mine averaged about 800,000 tons per year in the 1930's.

In order to provide a higher-quality product for the Windsor generating station, the AEP system's first coal-washing facility was completed in April 1944. It was designed to wash only the coal with a diameter of three-eights inch or larger, yet still was able to produce clean coal with a heat content of about 12,000 BTU.

By 1946, after the war had ended, the Beech Bottom mine had extended so far that the active working faces were far removed from the portal in Schoolhouse Hollow. To reduce the amount of time needed to transport employees from the surface to the active mining sections, a new portal and bathhouse were constructed just west of the village of West Liberty, W VA.

The new West Liberty building, located above the mine's Nine South section, housed the company's offices and contained an 85 -foot shaft with an elevator to take employees from the surface to the Pittsburgh No. 8 seam below. The mine workings are under less cover at that point than at almost any other location throughout the company's reserves.


Coal production at the Beech Bottom mine in 1951 was a healthy 972,871 tons, but in 1953 it dipped to 912,977 tons and continued to fall steadily for the rest of the decade.

There were a variety of reasons, among them a somewhat lesser out-put of electric power from Windsor as newer generating stations such as Muskingum River and Philip Sporn came on line. There was also an economic recession to contend with in Pres. Eisenhower's second term, and a general slump in the coal industry.

For Windsor Power House, the bottom came in 1959 when the company's production amounted to only 143,807 tons. There were substantial layoffs in 1958 and again in 1959, reducing the size of the workforce to just 100 employees.

Despite the slump, the company did not hesitate to invest money in improving the mining operation. Cumbersome track-mounted equipment was eliminated in 1958 as the company acquired rubber-tired cutting machines, loading machines, drills and its first shuttle cars.

Trackless mining provided a significant boost to the mine's productivity. Though the shuttle car still had to load onto mine cars, the time-consuming task of extending track into each entry of each section was eliminated.

Introduction of roof bolts in the early 1950's was also significant advancement. Although miners were highly suspicious and skeptical of the new devices at first, roof bolts afforded a great deal more protection for miners than the old practice of timbering.

The company's production began to rebound in 1961 and improved steadily throughout the remainder of the decade (reaching 659,881 tons in 1968) but the effects of that decade-long slump can still be seen on the mine's seniority rolls today.

A look at the company's seniority list for UMWA personnel shows none with dates of hire between 1953 and 1968. For the most part, Windsor's new hirees in the 1960's, as production improved, were simply recalls of Windsor employees who had been laid off earlier.


Under the agreement between the two utility owners, Ohio Power had operated Windsor Plant, while West Penn operated Windsor Power House Coal Company. In January 1971, however, Ohio Power purchased West Penn's 50 percent interest in the coal company.

While negotiations for the purchase of West Penn's interests were proceeding, the AEP system was moving forward with plans to expand the Windsor coal reserves. In 1970, the company leased from Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Company a 7,952 acre tract containing 30-million recoverable tons. Windsor is actively mining those reserved today.

After more than a half-century of service, Windsor Plant was deactivated in 1973. The coal company entered into an agreement with a contractor, Crain Brothers, to load Windsor's Coal onto barges for delivery to other AEP system generating plants. Today, Windsor's coal is shipped across the river to the nearby Cardinal generating plant, or downstream to the Gavin generating plant.

Mining methods continued to change in the early 1970's. The first continuous miner was introduced at Windsor in 1972 to drive additional entries to the 73 West ventilation shaft.

In May 1974, Windsor's first continuous miner unit initiated development of the company's present 44 Hollow (so named because it once was stop 44 on the streetcar line between Wheeling and Wellsburg ) operation. It began by driving three entries from outside into the barrier pillar between an area of old workings from the 1910's and 1920's and the Tipple Hill Mains, providing access to the newly acquired Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel reserves.

A second miner section was added at 44 Hollow in 1975, and the five portals servicing the present-day 44 Hollow facilities were cut to the outside during the winter of 1976-77. The 44 Hollow bathhouse was occupied in Sept 1977.


By the fall of 1978, the problems involved in hauling coal via mine cars from the Nine South area to the company's tipple had compounded to the point that the situation was unworkable.

Coal from the company's active working sections had to be moved nine miles via underground haulage, and, in the areas closest to the tipple, mine cars had to squeeze through 10 and 12-foot-wide entries that had been mined many years earlier. (The Beech Bottom mine today utilizes 18-foot entries.)

An additional problem was the fact that the fine coal produced by continuous miners could not adequately processed in the company's antiquated preparation plant.

As a result, the company closed its active sections in the Nine South region, retrieved its mining equipment, and sealed the portal. The continuous miner units in 44 Hollow were removed, and three conventional sections were installed in their place. Some 84 Windsor employees were furloughed in the process.

The changes were also needed to improve the BTU content of Windsor's clean coal production so that it would meet the requirements of the AEP System's newer generating stations. One advantage of conventional mining is that a careful crew can produce a cleaner raw coal than it possible by continuous mining. A conventional mining crew is able to avoid loading the top and bottom material that a continuous miner often takes inadvertently.


The latest chapter in Windsor's lengthy history began in 1980, with the announcement that a new $14-million coal-washing facility would be built in 44 Hollow.

Completion of the new facility, which was dedicated in formal ceremony on October 20, 1981, enabled Windsor Coal to return to continuous mining. The new plant, which has a rated capacity of 600 tons per hour, incorporates froth flotation cells for the express purpose of cleaning the particles of fine coal that are produced by continuous mining.

The new plant was AEP's first to have a filter press system for dewatering fine refuse. The filter presses reduce the moisture content of this refuse sufficiently to allow the material to be compacted in a manageable and environmentally acceptable manner. This eliminates the need for slurry impoundments.

Windsor's new prep plant was also AEP's first to have a computer-assisted control facility. The computer system continually scans the status of key components inside the plant and responds appropriately to any change in their status.

Thanks to the new coal-washing plant, the heat content of Windsor's clean coal has returned to the 12,000 BTU range. Ash content has been reduced from roughly 20 percent to just 11 percent, and the sulfur content has been marginally reduced as well.

At its dedication, W.S. White, Jr. AEP chairman, stressed the importance of providing {a consistent, high-quality coal that will minimize slagging and maintenance problems in our generating units, improve performance, and aid in meeting environmental standards".


While Windsor's new coal-preparation plant was being built, a number of environmental projects were launched around the 44 Hollow area.

A comprehensive acid mine drainage (AMD) treatment program was initiated for 44 Hollow, including a holding pond along State Route 2 and a treatment plant located just north of the office and bathhouse complex.

Windsor's new AMD treatment plant, completed early in 1982, has the capacity of treating 500 gallons of water per minute. Sludge which is removed from the water is pumped back into the Beech Bottom mine and deposited in abandoned, worked-out sections.

An old refuse area in 44 Hollow, which had been used by the power plant, and the refuse area in Schoolhouse Hollow, which had been used by the mine, have both been fully reclaimed and revegetated.

In recognition of its efforts, Windsor Power House Coal Company received one of 17 coveted reclamation awards presented by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources and the West Virginia Surface Mining and Reclamation Association in 1982.

Windsor's work was judged as the best overall reclamation project in the state in that year's awards competition. The company, the Department of Natural Resources said, was deserving of the "exceptional statewide recognition for extensive efforts and reclamation achievement in the total transformation of a 60-year- old refuse pile area to one of environmental integrity.

"This effective rehabilitation is now enhanced with a new preparation plant as well as an advanced mine drainage treatment facility, both of which assures the future of this industrial complex, " the DNR noted.


For the past five years, high-flying satellites have helped Windsor officials improve roof control plans inside the Beech Bottom Mine. Using a remote sensing program, America's three LANDSAT satellites have been able to discern linear features in the earth's strata that correspond remarkably with the patterns of roof falls and "bad top" in underground mines Continues such as Beech Bottom.

In 1978, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration contacted Windsor Coal's management and suggested that perhaps linears- fractures in the earth's strata - could be a factor in the mine's periodic problems will roof falls and bad top conditions

When a linear map of the West Virginia panhandle area was overlaid on a map which plotted the locations of roof falls at the Beech Bottom mine, the correlations were remarkable. And since that time, officials have found that the presence of linears affects mine roof conditions about 80 or 85 percent of the time.

The linear maps gave Windsor officials advance indication of areas where special roof control strategies should be utilized. The company commonly uses truss bolting in areas where linears are present. Truss bolts takes somewhat longer to install and are more expensive than resin bolts or mechanical bolts, but they have a significant advantage; they are anchored in strata above the pillar of the mine and not the entry.


Within the past year, Windsor has begun operation of an impressive new clean coal conveyor and barge loader. The conveyor, which crosses West Virginia State Route 2 at a point 136 feel above the pavement of the highway, leaps 676 feet to carry the coal over the roadway, then leaps another 300 feet to send the coal above the railroad track that runs along the bank of the Ohio River.

With the construction of the new 600-ton-per-hour barge loading facility, Windsor employees began coal-loading operations for the first time in the company's history. The company's agreement with its contractor, Crain Brothers, was terminated.

Soon after the new $2.5 million conveyor and barge loader were placed into service, demolition of the old tipple, old conveyor line and old preparation plant began.

Also within the past year, a fifth working section has been added at the Beech Bottom mine. However, during the two-week miners' vacation period in the summer of 1983, Windsor's last remaining conventional section was changed over to a continuous miner section. It had been the last conventional section operating anywhere on the AEP system.

Continuous mining may not always be the way coal is produced at the Beech Bottom mine. Engineering studies have shown that the company's reserves are suitable for longwall mining, and that option is being seriously studied for the future.

Those reserves, incidentally, were recently extended when Windsor Power House Coal entered into a agreement to acquire approximately 2,000 acres of coal reserves presently held by the neighboring Valley Camp Coal Company.

As a partner in the AEP System's first mine-mouth generating facility, Windsor Power House Coal Company will always have a prominent place in the history of the electric utility industry.

AEP's success in locating a generating plant at the fuel source and transmitting the electric power to the service area, saving costly coal transportation charges, led the System to incorporate that practice with other generating stations, such as the General James Gavin, Philip Sporn, Muskingum River, Mitchell, Kammer, Clinch River and Breed Plants. It also convinced other utilities to adopt that practice.

Today, with its gleaming new facilities, Windsor Power House Coal Company stands among the premier coal operators in the Ohio Valley. And with its combination of modern coal technology and proud, lengthy tradition, Windsor is meeting the challenge of providing quality coal for electric power generation at a competitive price. Remember this story was written in 1983

This concludes the history of Windsor Mine. There are additional stories of the Village of Windsor Heights and the early settlers in that area. Our Brooke County genealogy group has tried to collect these histories - along with genealogy stories of families who worked and lived here. If you have any information that connects to this area, why not share it with our group?

Winsor mine closing


This story is from the Herald Star of Steubenville, Ohio
Sunday March 28, 1999
By Matz Malone

Windsor mine keeps century-old industry tradition

      The Windsor Coal Mine has gone thru quite a transformation over the past 100 years.

      It's gone from the pick, shovel and drilling and shooting days of another era of coal mining to the state-of- the- art longwall mining operation of today.

      The Windsor mine has provided work for thousands of miners during the years of its experience in Brooke County.

      The history of the mine goes back to a hole in ground that was dug shortly before the turn of the 20th century to recover the black gold that provided the heat for homes and a steam driven industrial base

      The Windsor mine has been digging at the same seam of coal for more than 100 years. It's the oldest continuously operating coal mine in Wet Virginia.

      Through the years, the Windsor mine has moved its portal more than a couple of times. For most of its history, the portal or opening to the miles of tunnels and rooms underground, was near the village of Windsor Heights.

      There's a wealth of history surrounding the Windsor mine. Around the turn of the century, the men who dug coal from the early were mostly immigrants who came seeking a better life.

      The coal mine was a melting pot of nationalities.

      Talk with someone who grew up in a coal mine camp and you will hear stories of people from different lands learning to communicate through a common language.

      There will be stories of different ethnic traditions mixed in with stories of men coming home from the mines and their wives and children beating the coal dust out of their clothes.

      It was hard times for tough people. Miners and their families had few luxuries and few pleasures of life.

      It's been said by many people who were born and raised in the coal mine camps of West Virginia and Ohio around the turn of the century that the mules and ponies used to pull the coal cars from the mine were probably treated better than the miners.

      It was hard work in poor conditions. Miners would be forced to spend 12 hour shifts on their knees shoveling the coal from a seam that was less than three feet high. There was the constant dust from the cutting and the constant fear of a roof fall. The fear was always present for black damp, or coal damp, also known as firedamp, an explosive gas found in coal mines. This fear is still present but greatly reduced because of much better ventilation systems and air handling measures in coal mines.

      The men were paid by the ton and if stone was found in a car of coal coming from the mine, the entire car was rejected and the miner wasn't paid.

      Stories abound from the old-timers who toiled at the Windsor mines. There was a time when young boys would only go to school a half day then go to the mine to help their fathers load powder, timbers and mine equipment for the next day's work. `

      In the old days the miners paid for their own tools and supplies. The coal miners lived on "script" or company issued paper, that was traded at the company story for groceries and other necessities of life.

      A coal miner in the 1920s-30s and even through the 1940s really did "owe his soul to the company store" to take a phrase from the song "16 Tons".

      While the Windsor mine began production in 1899 with a portal into the hill near Windsor Heights, the village to take the name of the mine, it was actually the construction of the AEP system's first "super" generating station, the Windsor Plant, that provided the means and impetus for the mine.

      This was the beginning of a new concept of coal delivery from the mine to the power plant.

      The Windsor Plant was built operated and jointly owned by two companies: AEP's Ohio Power Company, then known as the American Gas and Electric System's Central Power Company, and the West Penn Power Company.

      The revolutionary concept of having a "captive mine" one owned by the same company that produces the power, was a milestone in the industry. This came about when the power plant, built where the former village of Power was, went into operation in 1917.

      The Windsor Plant was one of the crown jewels of the power generating system for nearly six decades. Even when the newer electricity generating stations were built, the plant at Power was operated because it could be brought up to capacity output relatively quickly in the event of an outage at one of the other stations or a rapid demand of electricity was needed.

      The plant was demolished in the mid-1970s. Some of the artifacts from the plant were preserved by historical groups. All that remains of the old Windsor Plant at Power are a few maintenance buildings. ( Note in 1999 these are all gone)

      The Windsor Plant began a trend toward "mine-mouth" generating stations, whereby the generating station was built in direct relation to the coal supply.

      This, in effect, continues today at the Windsor mine. Coal mined from under the earth in Brooke County is transported on a more than 13 mile conveyor belt system from the fact of the mine to the Ohio River and loaded on barges that transport it to supply the Cardinal generating facility at Brilliant, Ohio

      However, as with many things today, the barge loading system on the Ohio River is computer controlled.

      In 1921, the mine started construction on a tipple to more efficiently transport the coal to the power plant. The tipple was completed a year later and was the forerunner of the coal transport system that is used today.

      Th Windsor mine was one of the first coal mines in the area to introduce mechanization into underground mining. Conventional mining replaced hand loading.

      Because of mechanization, fewer coal miners were needed and this resulted in a considerable reduction of workers. At one time 800 and 1,100, after mechanization, the workforce was down to about 400 workers.

      The mine's workforce was reduced in a close proportion to the technological advances made in mining equipment.

      In 1981, a $14 million coal preparation plant was completed at Windsor's 44 Hollow. This is where the coal first sees the light of day on its journey to the power plant. The coal preparation plant features a computer assisted control center and flotation cells to clean extremely fine coal. The washing process reduces sulfur content of the coal, enhances hear content and improves the efficiency of generating plant boilers.

      Windsor was the first mine in the AEP system to build a computer-assisted coal preparation plant.

      Windsor had a portal at 44 Hollow until the late 1980s when the portal was moved to its present site on state Route 88, near West Liberty in Brooke County.

      Today, there are 280 workers at the mine, including hourly and salaried people.

      "Machines became more efficient and replaced people," said Charles Kellam, personnel manager at the mine.

      "People are still the most valuable resource we have here at Windsor, " he said, "Longwall mining at Windsor is state-of-the-art. It's the safest and most productive means of mining today," Kellam said.

      The longwall mining operation started at Windsor Coal Co. in 1989.

      In Windsor's longwall mining system, panels of coal measuring 750 feet wide and 8,000 feet long that had been exposed by other mining systems are extracted. These blocks are removed by continuous operations, using self-advancing hydraulic jacks to provide roof support during the mining operation. These jacks, also called chocks, advance as the coal is mined, allowing the roof behind the jacks to collapse. Longwall mining machines cut the coal parallel to the coal face. The broken coal falls into a chain conveyor that removes it to a conveyor belt.

      The system used at the Windsor mine incorporates a 500 hp shearer and electro-hydraulic shields. The longwall mining operation has considerably increased the production capability at the Windsor Mine.

      "We will mine more than 2 million tons of coal this year," Kellam said.

      Mike Roxby, a 30 year veteran of the Windsor mine, is safety and health manager.

      "We've seen a lot of changes from conventional mining to longwall mining," Roxby said.

      "It's so much different today, there's so much technology," he said, noting that is better ventilation in the mine and much less dust than what the miners of yesteryear had to contend with.

      "It's just a lot safer," he said.

      To attest to the safety record of the Windsor Mine, Roxby and Kellam proudly pointed out that the mine had been the recipient of numerous safety awards.

      The 1998 Mountaineer Guardian Award for Safety Achievement was presented to the Windsor Mine, which is the seventh prestigious safety award the mine has earned.

      There is a trophy display at the entrance of the mine portal near West Liberty with all of the safety awards and citations the employees at the mine have earned.

      "We put a lot into our safety program," Kellam said, adding "Safety is an attitude. It's working smarter."

      Safety is more than more than just a slogan at the Windsor mine. Safety is a way of life for the men who work underground.

      "We want the miners who come to work here to go home to their families," Kellam said.

      The Windsor mine has worked without a fatality since 1957 and the mine has repeatedly received awards for working long periods of time without a lost-time accident.

      There is yet another aspect of the safety emphasis at the Windsor mine in its highly trained mine rescue team. The team is comprised of miners who volunteer countless hours to train for a call they hope never comes.

      Mine rescue teams are on constant alert if a mine disaster happens.

      Mine rescue teams are also part of a network that can be called into service to assist anywhere in the country in the event of a mine disaster or a natural disaster that may require the expertly trained group.

      The mine rescue team at the Windsor mine trains and competes in mine rescue contests and competes in the National Mine Rescue Contest in Louisville, KY.

      In 1989, the Windsor team placed 12th in the nation in the mine rescue competition.

      Mine rescue teams compete above ground in simulations of underground mine disasters

      Last summer, the Windsor mine competed in St. Clairsville (OH) against 24 other mine rescue teams from eight states.

      During the competition, which was held on a football field, the rescue team wore all the equipment that the members would wear during an actual rescue.

      During the competition this year, members of the Windsor team included, Bob Talbert, the captain; Bob Chappo, Pete Peluchette, Mark Pissos, Mike Shreve, Jim Talbert, alternate.

      Dave Zatezalo, general manager of the Windsor mine, watched the seven-member team as it worked to solve the rescue problem.

      "There's a lot of pride and dedication in that team. They put in a lot of their own time studying and practicing."

      He said each team member has to be able to know what each of the other team members will do and react in a given situation.