Minerail

Musée de la mine de Messeix


Useful Information

Location: 2 Allée des Sorbiers, Les Gannes, 63750 Messeix.
(45.618470, 2.558960)
Open: APR to SEP Mon, Wed-Sun, Hol 14-18, last entry 17.
[2022]
Fee: Adults EUR 7, Children (3-12) EUR 4.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 6, Children (3-12) EUR 4.
[2022]
Classification: MineCoal Mine SubterraneaMining Museum
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography:  
Address: Minerail, musée de la mine de Messeix, 2 Allée des Sorbiers, Les Gannes, 63750 Messeix, Tel: +33-473-21-45-63.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

23-NOV-1831 concession for a coal mine granted to Jean-Baptiste Sablon by royal order.
1848 Jean-Baptiste Sablon drilled a well located 1,200 m west of the hamlet of Bogros.
1850 sold to Charles Vazeilles et Cie, who sink a new well 200 m to the west named Saint Charles.
1878 Houillères de Messeix company founded which took over.
1923 Puits Saint-Louis (Saint-Louis Shaft) started.
1928 Puits Saint-Louis (Saint-Louis Shaft) completed.
1946 nationalization, mine managed by the Houillères du Bassin d'Auvergne.
1988 Messeix mine closed.

Geology

The Messeix mines were anthracite coal mines of the mining basin called grand sillon houiller du Massif Central (great Massif Central coalfield). These are several synclines of sedimentary rocks with beds of coal interbedded. The synclines form bowl-like structures. The Messeix anthracite deposit is 4 km long and its greatest width is 750 m. The main axis is oriented north-south and plunges slightly towards the south with a slope of around 12%.

Description

Minerail is the name of the musée de la mine de Messeix (Mining Museum Messeix). It is located in the abandoned mining buildings at the headframe of Puits Saint-Louis (Saint-Louis Shaft) in the mining town Messeix. The museum is operated ny a non-profit organization of mining interested locals.

The mining at Messeix started with a small scale surface mining, carried out by peasants for the region's lime kilns. On 23-NOV-1831 the concession for a coal mine was granted to Jean-Baptiste Sablon by royal order. He started mining, and sunk a shaft, but he sold the mine to Charles Vazeilles et cie twenty years later, who sunk a new well 200 m to the west named Saint Charles. They transported the coal on the back of mules to the Fonderies de Pontgibaud and the rest to the Forges de la Cellette, a cast iron furnace. In 1878, the limited company of Houillères de Messeix (Messeix Colliery) was founded, which took over. In 1946, due to nationalization, the Houillères du Bassin d'Auvergne managed the mine. They decided to modernize the old mining techniques with inclined planes by the St Louis shaft, which was already drilled in 1923, but now it became the only extraction system. The shaft was 320 m deep and had a diameter of 5 m. The mine was finally closed in 1988, after it was abandoned and the pumps turned off, it was flooded and is today destroyed. The headframe remained, also the extraction machinery, but after it was abandoned is started to decay.

The headframe and machinery was renovated for the museum and is today part of the exhibition. The Saint Louis Shaft extraction machine is the engine of the elevator in the shaft, there was a long steel rope from the elevator over the headframe wheels to the engine. There are workshops, bathrooms, and changing rooms called salle des pendus (hanging room), because the clothes were hanged on long chains and pulled to the ceiling. There is also some heavy equipment, like compressors, converters and electrical switches. Not all is from this site, it was salvaged during the demolition of other nearby mines and reinstalled at the Saint Louis shaft.

The museum has a great exhibition of machinery, and also a working diesel powered mine train. On special days during summer it is possible to take a train ride. However, there is no underground tour. But a highlight of the museum is a miniature railroad which has models of local mining installations. It is a model of the most important mining operations of the Auvergne, with castles, mountains, and volcanoes. And there is a modell of the Puits Saint-Louis in its state 100 years ago, including the buildings which were demolished since then.