The Unique Coal Mine and WillowGraph Theatre
After passing Ye Olde Mill, the St. Nicholas Colliery, now known as the Unique Coal Mine, comes into view. We read from the booklet:
(P) Unique Coal Mine
A ride through the Unique Coal Mine is an exact reproduction of the big St. Nicholas Mine, and St. Nicholas, Pa. Every feature of that mine is duplicated, even to size. To add to the realism of the affair, a view of the Mahony Plane is painted on the outside, showing the other big breakers, the culm banks, the miners’ homes in the foreground and the mountains in the distance.
The passenger makes the tour in a coal car, the same as he would have to use if he were to visit the St. Nicholas breaker. He sees figures in operation just as though they were human beings, instead of mere mechanical contrivances; and so realistic are these that many persons suspect that they are actually alive. First he passes a life-like group of miners, with burning lamps in their caps. They are digging coal. Several of those nearest the car stop work for a glance at the visitors. Others keep working away utterly oblivious of the presence of strangers. In a breast running at right-angles are seen perhaps a hundred of these miners. Farther on the visitor comes to a typical mine mule stable. The next turn of the car brings into view a realistic scene of a mine mule stable.
The next turn of the car brings into view a realistic scene of a mine explosion, although operated mechanically, the incident is impressively realistic. the next picture depicts the entrance to the shaft after it is known that an explosion has occurred. One scene follows another, each one accurately portraying some incident in the mining of coal; a Pick Machine is in actual operation; a subterranean telephone is shown; an interesting view of a group of miners at lunch is reproduced from life; an electrically driven air compressor is shown in operation; an electric mine locomotive is one of the new features of the mine. another new attraction is a life-like production called “At the Bottom of the Pit” it shows the operation of the mine hoist at the lowest level of a mine; a group of breaker boys industriously picking slate from the coal are represented by life-like figures, all mechanically operated.
After our trek through the Unique Coal Mine, we come upon the WillowGraph Theatre. A glance at the booklet reveals:
(Q) Willowgraph Theater
... will provide for the entertainment of WGP visitors an unprecedented exhibition of moving life pictures, including an entirely new assortment of comic, magic, mystic views and trick film novelties. It will present the longest continuous moving picture entertainment ever given in the United States, employing for this purpose three thousand feet of film. The program will be changed every week, and all the best new productions in the moving picture line will be procured at once for the benefit of the patrons of this popular amusement.
As we come out of the WillowGraph, a glance to the right reveals the spectacles of the Lower Midway, with many of the major attractions such as Airships and the Mountain Scenic Railway. But first, we'll experience Venice.
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