My husband's people were here , and we used to come visit and it was in 1927 when we brought the cows up and leased a place out on Red Mesa. And that's when he later took the mine. There was no mine here at that time. Our first son, Floyd, was just 17 days old when we moved up here.
We started in here the first day of October in 1935; we had some partners then, bought them out in 1948. We worked the ranch during the day and mined at night. I used a coal car for Floyd's bed while we mined, parked it in a side drift. We thought we could handle the cattle and a garden and hogs and chickens and the mine, but it was too much for us. So we had our sale and got rid of farm life and moved down to the coal mine.
We really loved coal mining, and I always felt a thousand percent safer there than out on the highway. I can go up there now and just enjoy it. A lot of people wouldn't have anything to do with a coal mine, especially a woman.
[Discussing coal mining] Well, we just had to get down on our hands and knees and take a pick and take a four-inch dirt out. Have to go back the length of the pick handle then bore holes with a hand drill, and then load them with power and shoot it out. It would come down in big chunks, but you had to do this to get it. Then we'd just load 'er up and take it out. In those days, we didn't grade the coal. People just bought it mill run or else. Then we finally got to the cutting machines; you had to hold your knee on it and keep it cutting. We used a mule or donkey for years to move the hoist to take the cars in and back. Then we finally got away from that and got to the electric motors
It was not very often that him [her husband] and I ever had anyone in with us because I had to work the odd hours with him and we'd work until late at night. Eventually he got some men to work.
[She also delivered coal] I would pull in up there at Mesa Verde with the truck all loaded, and you know they just couldn't get over that. The old Knife Edge road was pretty scary. That was the time that I had pretty much of an experience. I dumped the coal off there and turned the truck around and was coming back down and right there was the cutest little cub bear right in the road, not much bigger than that cat. I thought, I'm going to get that little bear and take him with me. So I jumped out of the truck and was trying to catch it when that old mama bear went "Rrrrr." I want you to know I just damn well made it to that truck.