It's been a pretty good year for tourism in the valley. A number of attractions are reporting visitor numbers at or even better than last year's near record levels, and the Atlas Coal Mine is no different.
"It's been actually a very good summer: I don't know the hard numbers, but it looks like we're going to have a better year than last year," speculated the coal mine's curator, Jay Russell. "Numbers are generally just a little bit more, maybe the same or a little bit more than last year, but our revenue is up just about ten per cent."
Russell had a number of possible reasons for the rise in tourism this summer.
"The heat: people get hot and thirsty so they need ice cream and pop, which we're very happy to have here on hand; our Unmentionables Tour is getting a higher subscription rate than we anticipated, so it's very popular; and people are taking up the day pass more, so instead of just doing one or two tours, they're doing three or four," he outlined.
Russell has noticed one difference in the make-up of the Atlas visitors and he thinks it could be a sign of things to come.
"We still get a lot of families coming, but we're also starting to attract more adventurous types," he told Drum FM. "They're generally young people who actively seek out historic sites and nature and stuff, but they like quality of life. The Tunnel Tour is very popular and that's what we're noticing is that there seems to be more active, adventurous types."
The Atlas Coal Mine shifts to fall hours of 9:30 to 5:00 starting this week.