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By replacing the labor-intensive job of hand-loading coal, the Joy loading machine helped revolutionize mining in the 20th century. When it was introduced in the 1920s, the Joy loader was one of several coal-loading machines on the market. The Joy displaced the others because it required less maintenance, could be moved easily, and was more adaptable to various coal seams and different mining conditions. A simple machine, the Joy loader featured two arms attached to the front of a short conveyor belt. The arms moved in a wide sweep, gathering loose coal and scooping it onto the conveyor belt, which then deposited the load into a shuttle car.

Inventor Joseph Francis Joy (September 13, 1883-February 1957) was born in Cumberland, Maryland. He was introduced to coal mining at a young age, and himself had loaded coal in the old way. In 1919, he won a patent for his design of a mechanical loader, which became the Joy loading machine and in its various models dominated the market for coal-loading equipment for decades. Some of the first Joy loaders were shipped to Logan County and installed in a mine owned by Harry S. Gay.

The Joy loader’s use was at its peak in the mid- to late-1950s, and at that time there were models for coal seams of different heights. By 1954, the Joy Manufacturing Company said that 72 percent of all coal loaded mechanically was loaded by Joy loaders. In many areas the Joy name was synonymous with coal loading, and the job of Joy operator was a coveted position on a mine crew. The continuous miner, a machine that extracted coal and loaded it as well, eventually replaced loading machines.

At the turn of the 21st century, Joy loaders were still being used in three Consol Energy mines and one Eastern-Peabody mine in northern West Virginia. However, they were not being used independently but in conjunction with continuous miners. Joseph Joy died in Fort Pierce, Florida.

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Dix, Keith. What's a Coal Miner to Do?. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988.

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Joy Loading Machine." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 05 March 2012. Web. 23 March 2018.


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