National Geographic : 1954 Apr
weave an erratic, undu lating course. Ventilation and gas removal are not serious problems since the mines are of average depth for Europe-1,500 to 2,000 feet. The deep est shaft in the Saar is 3,000 feet. In near-by Belgium, some miners must descend 4,000 feet into the earth. Dropping into a Saar Coal Mine With two French offi cials I visited the new Franziska mine near Camphausen, a few min utes' drive from Saar briicken. There I was outfitted in mining clothes, from woolen underwear to coveralls, hobnailed safety shoes, and a plastic hel met topped with an elec tric lamp. In a steel cage we dropped 1,000 feet to the level where black faced miners, stripped to their undershirts, tore the fuel from crumbling walls. We walked several hun dred yards through a winding tunnel, bending low to keep from bumping the steel beams which supported the ceiling. Many of the heavy arches were bent and twisted by the enormous pressure. The mine was hot, but a constant wind from the modern air-conditioning system whined through the tunnels, whipping eddies of coal dust into our eyes. A string of coal cars rumbled along the narrow track on which we walked, and we squeezed against the walls to let them pass. We turned into a side tunnel, even lower than the first, and crept a hun dred yards on hands and 565 Saar Dwellings and Dogs Have German Lines World War II bombers destroyed or damaged half of the Saar's homes; 10,000 modern replacements are built each year (page 569). This 19th century house in the mining village of Fischbach escaped undamaged.