Tandem Automatic Slate Picker, Scranton, Pa.
TANDEM AUTOMATIC SLATE PICKER, SCRANTON, PA.: Unless you know something of the history of coal mining, you cannot understand the value of the machine here shown. In the great breaker building the coal is first crushed. But the coal is not pure. There are minerals, especially slate, mixed with it. This must be removed before the coal is put into the cars for shipment. The labor of sorting out these pieces of slate and rock was formerly given over to boys. These were only lads of from 9 to 15 years, who sat all day long beside the small coal chute, working for a small sum of money per day. Here they sat, cramped and stooping, their little hands worn and tired, and their bodies aching.
You perhaps have heard of the term, child labor. Much has been written and said about it in the last few years. Every child should be given a chance to make the most of himself. In his youth he should be given an opportunity to learn about the things that other people do, and how they do them. Then, when he grows to manhood, he will be able to decide upon a business which he thinks he will like. The breaker boy had no chance to do this. Now laws have been passed to prevent children under a certain age, from working all day long.
Moreover, machines have been invented that make labor unnecessary in coal mining. The simple one you see here does the work of many breaker boys. As the coal slides down these chutes, the wooden jigs lift and let the lighter, fast-traveling coal pass by, but hold the heavier slate and rock. The machine is not at work, as you see it, but under each of the jigs is shown a pile of slate that had been caught. This slate is dropped into special chutes and removed from the breaker.
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