A little over a decade after the opening of Noah's Ark, the Coal Mine ride was added. It operated for almost 35 years, right up till the fire of 1969 took it all. As I said earlier, a lot of things stayed the same at Old Orchard for a long time, and it was a very comforting thing. The Coal Mine must have been the most primitive dark ride ever conceived - run by mule power. There was a fleet of mules and each one was harnessed to a two-seated coach that ran on a set of tracks.
The Coal Mine was not unique to Old Orchard. The ride appeared in other parks but they were not usually associated with existing Noah's Arks, although it did make some thematic and practical sense to build it below Mount Arrarat. After being seated in your mining cart, the mule would be induced to begin the trek through the completely dark tunnel (minus the leaks of sunlight through the wall planks). The floor tilted down several feet to simulate the descent into a real mine. There was a semi-theme of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, who you'll recall were mine workers. The car passed by a few stationary painted plywood figures of characters from the Disney movie, dimly lit. That was it for stunts.
Then, while I was taking my initial ride, it stopped. Halfway through the tunnel the mule decided to take a rest. A long, long rest. To a kid in the dark, not knowing what was going on or how, when, or if he was ever going to get out, it wasn't fun. Then the next mule and passenger cart came down behind. Then the next, and so on. It took the entire fleet of mules to pile up in the tunnel before the attendant finally came down and led them all through and back outside.

As George remembers it: "I recall the Snow White head, a Seven Dwarfs diorama – plywood cutouts of them working in the mine, set up in a kind of crawl space to the rider’s right. I also recall a plywood Evil Queen/Hag character on a straight-on approach and at the very end, before the incline, there was a plywood skeleton. Nothing was animated. No sound effects. All you could hear was the noises coming from Noah’s Ark such as a blow hole, people screaming and the occasional horn or whistle. Most of the ride was so pitch black that you couldn’t even see the mule in front of you."

For me, this was a one-timer. I never wanted to go through it again, nor did I like the idea of using live animals in such a way. I've spoken to others who remember riding the Old Orchard Coal Mine way back when, and every one of them recalled getting stuck in it. I suppose for a couple of lovers riding in the cart, the slow journey through the darkness might have had some appeal, but I can tell you the smell wasn't very romantic.
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