“It’s a remarkable site: The Mine set records for coal production in a 10-hour shift and was the industry leader in safety,” says Bob Ernspiker, managing partner of Louisville-based Communications Electronic Design, Inc., which designed the exhibition. “The mine was big in the war effort because the type of coal extracted was critical to steel production in World War II.”
The Portal 31 Tour presents the history of the Kentucky Coal Museum as it shuttles visitors through the mine on a narrow-gauge track. Eight stops take them from the opening of the mine in 1917 to its closure in 1960.
“Stop eight has a seamless three-screen projection on the mine walls,” Ernspiker explains. “The space is a big cavern with surround sound played in sync off the Digital Binloop HD; one Binloop channel is dedicated to each screen. With the lights off, it’s very dark and dramatic, and people get a really big kick out of it. It’s very cool.”
He notes that equipment must be robust to keep running in the hostile environment of an underground coal mine. “The Alcorn gear has performed flawlessly in a very abrasive environment with constant moisture and huge humidity shifts. We have a lot of problems keeping everything working despite equipment being housed in environmental enclosures. The mine is extremely hard on equipment, but the Binloops have never broken down.”
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Founded in 1986, Alcorn McBride is the leading manufacturer of show control, audio and video equipment for the themed entertainment industry, and a rapidly growing provider of audio and video systems for retail environments and transportation applications. Staffed by some of the industry’s best engineers and backed by outstanding customer support, the company has demonstrated great agility in bringing new designs to market. A hallmark of Alcorn McBride products is their durable, zero maintenance design. The company’s products provide consistent, reliable operation for audio and video playback applications worldwide. For more information, visit