2022 Mining History Association

 

Red Mountain Mines Tour
Tour Leader, Jeff Newman

Birmingham, Alabama
June 25, 2022

 

PHOTO GALLERY 1 of 2
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The Red Mountain Mines Tour visited the locations of the Redding/Wenonah No. 10 Mine and the Songo/Redding Shaft Mine.  The following description is summarized from the tour handout. 

 

In 1863, Daniel Hillman acquired the iron ore deposits in the Redding and Songo areas of Red Mountain.  Upon his death the property was transferred to his son Thomas Tennessee (TT) Hillman.  The Redding/Wenonah No. 10 Mine began operations in 1880.  It supplied the Alice Furnace Company which had been founded by Henry Debardeleben and Hillman (who owned the ore deposit).  A railroad spur was constructed on the north side of Red Mountain to transport the ore to the furnace.  In 1881, the Alice Furnace Company was sold to Enoch Ensley.  In 1883, Debardeleben and William Thompson Underwood started the Mary Pratt Furnace Company.  Through a lease arrangement they obtained ore from the Alice Furnace/Redding property.  In 1884 the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Birmingham Mineral Railroad built a branch line along the south side of Red Mountain.  In 1886, through a merger, Ensley transferred ownership of the mine to the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company (TCI).  The name of the Redding Mine was changed by TCI in 1905 to the No. 10 Mine in the Wenonah mining camp community.  The community housed workers for the TCI mines No. 6 ˝ through the No. 10.  CLICK HERE for a 1953 U. S. Bureau of Mines map of all of the mines in the Birmingham Valley.  In 1910, the No. 9 ˝ Mine was opened with a hoist house constructed next to the No. 10 hoist house.  In the 1920s, TCI upgraded the coal and steam driven hoists and compressors to electrical power.  The No. 10 Mine continued to operate until 1956. 

 

 

Tour Leader, Jeff Newman, met the MHA group at the High Ore Line Trailhead of Red Mountain Park (at the left, southwest, end of the park on the map at the right).  Jeff is one of the founders of Underground Atlanta that works to preserve Birmingham’s mining heritage.  The first stop on the tour is the foundation of the hoist house of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company (TCI) Mine No. 10, AKA the Redding Mine.
 



Red Mountain Park encompasses 1,500 acres of green space close to downtown Birmingham.  It has an extensive recreational trail system much of which follows old rail lines used to transport the iron ore.  The mines on Red Mountain supplied iron furnaces of the area for nearly 100 years.  Click on the map to view a larger version.


Jeff is holding a photograph of the original No. 10 Mine hoist house.
 
This aerial view shows the No. 10 mining facilities and company housing of the Wenonah mining camp.  CLICK HERE for a close-up view.


Located a short distance uphill is the foundation of the No. 10 Mine compressor house.
 
The historical photograph shows the lower door still visible in the existing remains.

MHAers investigate the concrete basement of the compressor house.

 
Along the trail, the foundation of the ore tipple of the No. 9 ˝ Mine is visible.

The MHAers got a up-close view of the notoriously invasive plant, kudzu, said to grow a foot per week and engulfing everything in its path.

 
The kudzu covered hill at the rear was the location of the miners’ change house for the No. 10 Mine.


(Above) The No. 10 Mine portal has been unearthed and gated so that park visitors can see how mining was done. The incline follows the dip of the iron formation which varies from18-35 degrees in the district.

 

(Right) The concrete entrance bears the “NO-10” Mine name plus the 1880 mine opening date and the 1932 date of the construction of the portal.  The mine continued to operate until 1956.

 


A view into the concrete lined inclined slope.  The slope aligns with the tipple and hoist house on the other side of the mountain.
 
Looking up the slope one can see several of the stone sleepers that once held the rails leading to the tipple on the other side of the mountain.



 

(Above) An abandoned compressor sits near the slope entrance.

 

(Left) Jeff explains the room and pillar mining system and points out the location of the Redding-Songo Mine property adjacent to the No. 10 Mine.  It will be the next stop on the tour.

 

For more information about the mining methods used on Red Mountain, CLICK HERE.

Jeff shows a picture of how an open cut mine continued until the cost of stripping overburden forced it to go underground.
 
An open cut mine pit has been completely revegetated since mining stopped.

Photos courtesy of Fred Barnard and Mike Kaas

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO GALLERY 2

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