Coal Pile & Hoist


Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum Proposal, New York, New York


The Hoist and The Coal Piles 

I propose to create the accouterments associated with a coal hole…another name for the opening to a coal mine. The associated equipment includes The Hoist and The Coal Piles. The actual hole will be absent. 

The Hoist or minehead serves to deliver the coal, broken from the earth in the mine to the surface. Wood-frame construction of the minehead precedes iron construction and is still used for coal mining in Schuykill County and the Anthracite Coal Region in Pennsylvania. Coal is the base material for coke which was integral to the expansion and use of iron as an industrial material thus spurning the Industrial Revolution in America. 

Coke, because of its geographical availability was mainly used in the iron industry surrounding Pittsburgh. Anthracite coal mined in eastern Pennsylvania in the early and mid 19th century was another source of fuel for use in the smelting of iron ore. Anthracite coal mining relied on the building of railroads and canals to serve the mines and the iron mills. The Industrial Revolution was dominated by a series of complex interrelationships, the key relationship being that of coal and iron. 

Andrew Carnegie, the most famous and richest of the Robber Barons is himself an embodiment of the Industrial Revolution. The Carnegie family emigrated from Scotland to Allegheny Pennsylvania in 1848. The Industrial Revolution, started in England and displaced Andrew’s father a handloom weaver from the factory system. Andrew Carnegie’s career began in Pittsburgh while working for the Pennsylvania Railroad. As the railroad expanded West, Carnegie invested in Pullman sleeping cars, and the unregulated railroad business. Of course Carnegie’s tremendous wealth and market domination came when he began transforming molten iron into steel thus creating technological progress and the Age of Steel at the cost of the skilled craftsman.