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Articles

Vol 46 (2010)

Dendrochronological dating of coal mine workings at the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Nova Scotia, Canada

DOI
https://doi.org/10.4138/atlgeol.2010.011
Submitted
May 4, 2010
Published
December 20, 2010

Abstract

Joggins, Nova Scotia was one of the first places in North America where coal was mined. In this paper we employ dendrochronology to date timber pit props preserved within relic coal mine workings on the closely adjacent Fundy and Dirty seams. These remains comprise a system of adits created through ‘room and pillar’ mining. Of the seventy-three samples collected, forty-eight were successfully cross-dated against a local red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) master chronology thereby establishing the year in which each individual sample was cut as a live tree. Results indicate cut dates of 1849-1875 which are generally consistent with written archival records of mining activity on these coal seams. Our analysis of fourteen separate adits allows us to distinguish two phases of mining. Most adits (numbers 1-9 and 11-12 with cut dates of 1849-1868) are relics of an initial operation by the General Mining Association (1865-1871), which opened a mine entered at beach level. Dendrochronological dates preceding the opening of this mine may suggest that timber stockpiled from the nearby Joggins Mine (opened 1847) was used in its construction. The remaining adits (numbers 10 and 13-14 with cut dates of 1873-1875) are probably relics of a later mine opened by the Joggins Coal Mining Company (1872-1877). Although this mine was centered ~500 m inland, its western peripheral workings passed through the earlier workings to the shore. Findings improve knowledge of the industrial archaeology of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and help refine the regional master red spruce chronology for future dendrochronological studies.