WHEN COAL WAS KING: Rogers No. 3 mine the coal seam lay nearly vertical

At the Rogers No. 3 mine the coal seam lay nearly vertical. This meant the roof above the miners was all coal. In order to provide a safe workplace, sets of timber supported overlapping wooden planks which held the roof in place. In the damp environment underground, timber slowly decayed and relief sets were placed beside the old timber for continued roof integrity. Tony Basselli of Carbonado is shown working at the Rogers No. 3 mine in Ravensdale. After the two upright posts or props were in place, a timber beam was notched with an axe to fit snugly in place. To the right, unseen in this photo was a jack used to lift the heavy timber, helping Basselli guide this beam into place. Wedges made of angled 2”x4” wood further secured a setting as seen directly above Tony’s head. Even with machinery and tools, coal mining was still a back-breaking occupation undertaken by only the hardiest of workers.   

Basselli was born in 1912 in the East Pierce County coal mining town of Melmont, graduating from Carbonado High School in 1931.  He worked in coal mines for 44 years, the last 13 of which as fire boss for Palmer Coking Coal Company. Basselli also operated his own one-man mine, the Carbonado Coal Company before he was forced to shut down by ever increasing federal regulations. Tony Basselli died in 2003 at the age of 90. This April 24,1974 photo by Barry Kombol was taken after he’d completed his own shift working underground, then stayed a second shift to document the many tasks undertaken by coal miners on a daily basis.