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France Puits Simon, Forbach - 2019/2020

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History

The "Simon" mine is one of the main coal mines of Lorraine, located in Forbach, Moselle. This mining site consisted of five shafts and the coal was mined here from 1907 to 1997. At the beginning of the 21st century, disused or reconverted buildings and three headframes are the only witnesses to this past activity.


The deposit was identified through a series of drill holes drilled between 1817 and 1849. However, it was not until 1904 that the sinking of the Simon No. 1 shaft began at a depth of 478 metres. The following year, the digging of the Simon No. 2 shaft and the construction of a washing plant began. Meanwhile, on the surface, the construction of the shower building, the administrative building, the workshops and the coal power plant is being completed.

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Shafts 1 and 2 in 1913

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Aerial wiew of the site

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The power plant and on the left the winding machine of the shaft 2
During the inter-war period, the Simon mine will experience intense activity. The sinking of the Simon No. 3 shaft began in 1932 to ventilate the No. 1 and No. 2 shafts. It was completed in September 1933. In 1938, the Simon pits produced close to one million tons of coal.
However, after the liberation of Forbach by American troops, there was a lot of damage: the construction sites were drowned up to 70 meters from the surface and the mining installations were in ruins.

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The heavily damaged buildings in 1945
On July 1, 1946, pumping and repairs were completed and operations resumed. A new shaft is sinked in 1948 (Shaft 3). In the 1950s, Shaft No. 3 was finally equipped with a winding machine, fans, shower baths and offices. The sinking of No. 4 shaft began in 1947 for ventilation and was completed in 1951. The "Houilleres du Bassin de de Lorraine" (HBL) began sinking Shaft No. 5 on January 1, 1958. In 1973, mining was concentrated in Shafts No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5. Shafts No. 3 (closed in June 1973) and No. 4 (closed in 1988) were used for ventilation only. The buildings in these two sites were decommissioned.

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The site in the 1990's, with the tower of the shaft 5.
On February 25, 1985, a firedamp explosion killed 22 miners and injured more than 100. On March 30, 1992, the HBL were held responsible for the disaster. This was the last mining disaster in France.

The Wendel mine was closed in 1985 and led to a logistical consolidation. All surface activities as well as administration are concentrated on the site of the Simon headquarters.

On December 5, 1997, a last symbolic cart was brought up from the No. 2 pit. Coal mining in the eastern sector of the Lorraine mining area stops there.

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The last symbolic coal ore cart in 1997.
The explore

So here we are more than 20 years after the closure of the site. Many buildings have been destroyed (coal washing plant, building of shaft no. 1, boilers of the power plant, and other various buildings) but some very interesting remains are still standing.

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Overview of the site from Shaft No. 2

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1 - The power plant

Even it the turbine hall is completly empty, the is building featurs an unique architecture and a beautiful decayed control room. The photos are from two different explorations, in 2019 and 2020.

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Overview of the control room

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There is a lot of decay and natural light, which make this place really good looking

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Syncroscope

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Detail on a decayed control desk

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Under the turbine hall


2 - Shaft No.2
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Exterior wiew

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Inside the headframe

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At the top of the headframe, the wheel was turning due to the wind
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The atmosphere with this weather was amazing


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Inside of the shaft building this conveyor used to lead to the washing plant

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This is where the miners used to enter the shaft

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Some old documents can still be found inside


3 - Shaft No. 1 winding machine

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Dubbed Navigator

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Thats an incredible report, brilliantly constructed.

Top marks for getting so high in the bad weather - looks fantastic.

Are there any plans for the remaining structures, or are they going to end up the same as Chatterly Whitfield in the UK?
 
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Thats an incredible report, brilliantly constructed.

Top marks for getting so high in the bad weather - looks fantastic.

Are there any plans for the remaining structures, or are they going to end up the same as Chatterly Whitfield in the UK?
The site is protected as an historical monument and can't be demolised. It is owned by the town but they don't have enough money to restore anything so it is left abandoned...
 
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