On July 9th, the Campbell County Rockpile Museum is opening its newest exhibition titled Women Coal Miners of the Powder River Basin. Featuring the photographs of Colorado artist Annalise Shingler, this exhibit tells the story of a handful of women miners from Gillette and Campbell County. This display highlights some of the women miners that have made a life of digging coal. Some women are trailblazers that have worked for 30 or more years in mining while others are just beginning their careers. Others are from families with multiple generations working in the coal mines. With this exhibit the Rockpile Museum hopes to shed some light on the hard work and sacrifice that these miners make to support their families and provide energy for our state and our nation.
Here in the Powder River Basin, women began employment at the coal mines soon after Belle Ayr Mine opened in the early 1970s. At first, the small percentage of women employees were mostly in clerical and administrative positions, but the number of women miners working in production soon increased as the other large mines opened in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most figures today state that women make up about 20 percent of all production crews in the coal mines of northeast Wyoming.
The Women Coal Miners exhibit will run through the end of October.