Smythe Family On The Road travel blog

A distant view of Devils Tower.

Close view.


It is believed that Devils Tower is a volcano that never quite...

Deb and Jonathan walk along the path around the base of the...

Our friend Paulette whom we met at Rainbow Park in Livingston Texas...

Deb and Jonathan at the base of the tower.

A view of the back side of the tower.

A close up view. People were climbing the tower the day we...

Tom and Jonathan at the base of the tower. Prayer bundles were...

You can see what the elevation was in this area on the...

Back on the bus with Tom and Jonathan.

One of the huge coal trucks comes to dump coal in the...

The water truck comes along soon after to help keep the dust...

A shot of the open mine. The site moves as the coal...

The truck is carrying dirt back to fill the mine in while...

A shot of the mine.

We were lucky enough to be there when they did a blast....

And now comes the dust cloud.


Jonathan and Deb with the mine in the background.

A family shot.

Tom and Jonathan look out over the mine.

The coal is broken up into smaller pieces then sent up the...

The truck dumps the coal into the grater which is down under...

This was the equipment repair building. You can see the back end...

This conveyer belt takes the coal up to the tower above the...

This is the same tower but a better view of where the...

These bins load coal into commercial trucks that take it to more...

These silos were used to store coal that would be shipped via...

Another shot of the repair building but you can see the inside...

This shot gives you some perspective on the size of the truck...

Tom, Jonathan, Deb, Paullette and Barbara. A fun time had by all.

This statue is at the front entrance of Energy Hall where most...

There was an area on the grounds of the Cam-Plex where they...

Tom and Jonathan explore the excavator.

On to the diesel train engine.

This is a good sized truck I'd say.

Tom and Jonathan are smaller than the wheel of this dump truck!

Here's the view of the Cam-Plex out the front window of the...

Tom and Jonathan stand in the drag bucket of a crane. Pretty...

Deb and Jonathan stand inside a tire.

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

underground mining.

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.

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