Saturday, June 28, 2008.
Cam-Plex, Gillette, WY
Devils Tower and Coal Mine
We got up early and got ready to head out on our HOP (Heading Out Program). Escapees has all kinds of little acronyms for things like that. The provided and early breakfast then we got on the bus at 8:30 and headed out.
We drove to Devils Tower first. After about an hour drive, we arrived at Devils Tower. Our tour guide took our group on a hike around the base of the tower. We got about a quarter of the way around and Rangers were shouting to clear the path. One of the climbers had fallen and were being carried out on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance. She looked like she was going to be OK but was pretty scratched up. As we walked around the back side of the tower we saw other climbers who were getting close to the top.
When we finished the hike, we jumped back on the bus and drove to a picnic area in the park. The tour company provided the group with box lunches then we drove back towards Gillette to one of the coal mines. This county has thirteen coal mines and is therefore very wealthy. The schools and other public facilities benefit from this a great deal.
The Coal Mine Tour was done mostly in the bus. We had a guide from the mine who explained the process of mining while we drove around. We were allowed to get off the bus at one point to observe what was happening in the mine below. We were fortunate in that we arrived just as they were preparing to perform a blast which happens about three times a day. We heard the signals go off then felt the blast under our feet before we heard it. It was really neat to see. Jonathan said that was his favorite part of the whole day.
Here are some coal facts for you.
1. The coal seam is 70-120 feet thick.
2. Wyoming coal is shipped to 36 states.
3. Eagle Butte and Belle Ayer mines provide enough coal to supply elecricity for
3,000,000 families for one year.
4. Average monthly electric bill for both mies in $450,000.
5. Five to six trains per day leave Eagle Butte. (The mine we saw.)
6. An average of 85-90 coal trains move coal out of the area daily to power plants
across the nation. Each train carries about 15,000 tons of coal in between 115 and 150
coal cars. Each train is over 1.5 miles long.
7. Nearly 2/3 of today's coal production results form surface mining rather than from
8. Wyoming, the nation's #1 coal producer for the past 18 years, produces 40% of the
more than 1.1 billion tons of coal produced nationwide.
9. 797 CAT 240-ton trucks. They have a fleet of 20 and normally run 7 in coal and 13 in
overburden replacing the dirt on top of the coal. Replacement cost is $2.5 million.
Fuel tank capacity is 1000 gal. diesel.
10. How the plant works -
a. Coal trucks dump coal into a hopper.
b. Primary crushers below hopper crush coal to 10-12 inch chunks.
c. Secondary crushers crush coal to 2 inch diameter final product.
d. Coal travels on a collection belt, and then to a storage belt to the top of the
e. Silo dimensions are 210 feet tall; 70 feet in diameter.
f. Silo holds approximately 10,000 tons of coal.
g. Trains travel through the silos and are loaded at a pace of approximately .6 mph.
h. Average train loading time with batch loading is approximately 2 hours.
When we got back to the campground, we drove over to the area where the Cam-Plex had collected old trucks, train engines and other pieces of large equipment and checked them out for a while.