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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Light at the End of the Tunnel (01/23/14)

TITLE: Under the Surface
By Richard L. Provencher


I left the thunder of early morning and descended into the bowels of our community copper mine, back in 1962, excited over my first full-time job as a miner. “Yer going down 2,500 feet into the tunnel,” said the foreman, except this tunnel or shaft was vertical and we were like sardines in a cage with ten, mostly youngsters like myself barely out of our teens. “Block yer ears,” and the painful air pressure helped us understand the warning.

Sweat exuded from our pores. Would the cage-elevator hold us safely? What if…? As if reading my thoughts the foreman cheerfully said, “This shaft goes down 8,200 feet.” Now fear added to ear problems. We pressed tightly together and worried even more. Our foreman called out, “500 feet, 1,000 feet,” until we arrived at a final destination of 2,500 feet.

All the way down the shaft, descending into darkness, we encountered a covey of dimly lit lamps attached to the walls. An array of lighting from the Crusher room was now difficult to adjust to. A group of men already lined up for a journey to the surface tempted me to turn around and get in line.

In the center of the room was a steel gear about fifty feet in diameter and rose like a behemoth, with wide teeth on its edge. Two smaller gears in descending size were fitted into its edge in order to power the larger one. This huge space was quite noisy as rocks from the copper vein were ground into much smaller pieces and returned to the surface to be melted down. We gasped in amazement.. “God, give me strength to last out the day,” I prayed. Especially since I suffered from claustrophobia and this was not really the place to be.

If only I was back on the surface. Our city of Rouyn-Noranda in Northern Quebec was 350 miles north-west of Montreal and dependent on this major employer, with 800 working men. I knew the mine opened in 1927, and later discovered it would operate continuously 24/7 until lack of mineral in 1976.

The day passed swiftly as we worked tidying up, and learning from seasoned workers by observing the operations we were being trained for.
Finally, a siren sounded and we prepared for the return journey. Hallelujah. After the huge space we worked in all day, our cage seemed fearful. It seemed to sway with effort as it slowly climbed this tunnel of darkness. My eyes followed dim lights showing the way. Up and up the tunnel we went, until a brilliant light filled our cage. We were home. I am sure it will be like that when we travel through the tunnel of life, and Jesus is waiting to welcome us home---for He is the Light.


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This article has been read 198 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Francie Snell 01/30/14
Very interesting with great descriptions. You did a wonderful job on this one. I felt like I was there.
Larry Whittington02/01/14
Interesting addaptation of a true to life story to the theme.

The concern was felt as expressed.

The story was easy to follow as read.

The conclusion might give readers hope of rising from the depths of their situation.
Judy Sauer 02/01/14
Having had been inside of a mine excursion in Cripple Creek, Colorado, many years ago, I could totally relate to your descriptive language.

For those of us not in the mining business, it would have been helpful to explain what 'the Crusher room' is used for, how it got its name, etc.

Keep up the descriptive writing.
C D Swanson 02/04/14
Wow! I was with you the entire time I read your excellent entry. Great job with this piece.

God bless~