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Coal Mining History in Illinois

Articles from various Sources

History of Coal Mining in Illinois

Extracted from A Compilation of the
Reports of the Mining Industry of Illinois
from the Earliest Records to 1954
The Discovery of Coal
      The first reference to coal being found in North America appeared in an article published in Paris in 1672 by Nicholas Denys, appointed governor of Eastern Arcadia in 1637. He obtained a concession of the whole island of Cape Breton from the King of France. He referred to "mines of coal within the limit of my concession and upon the border of the sea". The concession was cancelled in 1690.
      The first discovery of coal, in 1668 by Father Louis Hennepin, in what is now the United States, was made in what eventually, 1818, became our State of Illinois. Authorities differ as to when and by whom this discovery was made.
      "The World's Cyclopedia and Dictionary of Universal Knowledge" gives the honor of this discovery to Father Hennepin in 1669,on the Illinois River near the present site of Ottawa, La Salle County. "Mineral Resources of the United States, Part 2, 1913", at page 832 says: "The first mention of coal in the territory which afterward became the United States is contained in the Journal of Father Louis Hennepin, published in 1698. The Journal contains a map on which is marked 'cole mine' on the banks of the Illinois River near the site of the present city of Ottawa, Hennepin having passed through this region 30 years before, in 1668."
      Prof. A. Beman, in "Bulletin No. 56, State Geological Survey," states that "Joliet and Father Marquette in their voyage of exploration in 1673 by way of the Illinois Valley and Chicago River made the original discovery, some place between the present cities of Utica and Ottawa."
      Almost a century passed before it was known that coal existed in Pennsylvania and other places in this country.
      During the first quarter of the nineteenth century it became known that a very wide extent of workable coal seams existed in Illinois, and references are found to its abundance in several counties of the State. Tanner, in "A View of the Valley of the Mississippi", published in 1834, quoted by Mr. S. O. Andros in "Illinois Coal Mining Investigation, Bulletin 13", says: "Bituminous coal is found abundantly in all parts of this State, in the bluffs and the banks of the water courses. On the Illinois, and opposite to St. Louis in St. Clair County, it is very abundant."
      Mr. Andros, in the same work referred to above, quotes Peck's "A Guide for Emigrants", published in 1831, as follows: "Stone coal abounds in Illinois. It may be seen frequently in the ravines and gullies and in the points of the bluff. * * * There is scarcely a county in the State but what can furnish coal in reasonable quantities. Large beds are said to exist near the junction of the Fox River with the Illinois."
      Coal was discovered in St. Clair County very early in this period, in a very singular way. Reynolds, in his "Sketches", says that "A citizen of the American Bottoms saw smoke arising from the same place for weeks together, which attracted his attention. Upon investigation, he found the coal in the bluff on fire and supposed it had caught from the roots of a tree which had been set on fire by burning prairie grass." These explorations and discoveries prior to 1830 were confined to the outcroppings of seams found along the bluffs of rivers and streams. For, as Prof. Leighton so admirably says, in an article printed in the April, 1929, number of the Illinois Journal of Commerce: "It was only after drilling that coal was discovered away from stream outcrops, but this did not happen until the population had extended inland and the need for water wells arose."
      In digging or drilling wells in search of water, very often coal seams would be penetrated at a depth ranging from a few feet to a hundred or more. And when the demand had increased beyond the capacity of "outcropped mines" to supply, the transition to "deep" mining was quickly made. This, however, was delayed until the coming of railroads and the development of manufactories. Quoting Prof. Leighton in his article above mentioned: "The coming of the railroad period brought a notable increase in the production of coal. * * * Subsequently the development of mines went hand in hand with the construction of railroads."
      The rapid growth of the railroads and the development of manufactories, were the greatest factors in the rapid development of the coal industry. Instead of local demands, which were supplied by wagon haulage, markets located in cities at great distance from the mines could be reached by railway transportation. Shaft mining was begun shortly after the completion of the Illinois Central railroad, 1855, at DuQuoin, Perry County. At this time there was much activity in railroad construction and within ten years the coal fields of Alton, Kingston, Rock Island, Danville, Braidwood and Braceville were developed. Soon great industries sprang up along the lines of these railroads, and coal mining soon became one of the leading industries of the State.
Coal Beds of Illinois
      The coal fields of Illinois are in the Eastern Interior Basin, which lies principally in Illinois and includes adjacent portions of Indiana and Kentucky. Approximately two-thirds of Illinois is underlain by coal-bearing strata which belong to the Pennsylvania system (Coal measures). The thickness of this sequence of rocks ranges from a few feet at their limiting margin to a maximum of about 2,600 feet in the deepest part of the Basin in Edwards County, Illinois. These strata dip gently except for local folding and faulting, from the margin toward the central part of the Basin. Coal beds which are at or near the surface along the margins of the coal basin lie at considerable depths in the middle of the basin. For example, the relatively well-known No. 6 coal, which is strip-mined along its outcrop in southern Illinois, lies at depths exceeding 1,200 feet in parts of Jasper County. The area and general structure of coal-bearing strata in Illinois are shown on the Illinois Geological Survey Geologic Map of Illinois (Weller and others, 1945).
      Forty to fifty coal beds or coal horizons are distributed throughout the Pennsylvania system in Illinois. Many of the beds have a thickness of at least 28 inches; some locally are as much as 14 feet thick. Coal beds No. 6, No. 5, and No. 2 are the only ones known to have a wide distribution with at least a thickness of 28 inches. All additional coals listed in Table 1 range from 28 inches to several feet thick, but most have such development relatively locally.
      No. 6 coal bed is most prominent in central and southern Illinois, with less extensive occurrence in northern Illinois. No. 5 bed is most prominently developed in western Illinois (west of the Illinois River), central Illinois (Springfield district), and southeastern Illinois. No. 2 coal occurs in minable thickness principally in northern Illinois. No. 7 coal has been extensively mined in east-central Illinois (Danville district) and is of minable thickness throughout much of the LaSalle district. This coal has been reported in minable thickness at scattered points principally in the central part of the State. Some of the lower coals in southern Illinois may be much more extensive in minable thickness than is known from available data. Limited data suggests that the Davis and Dekoven coal beds of southeastern Illinois may occur in minable thickness over a large area in this part of the State.
      Coal Bed Designations -- A. H. Worthen, in Volume I (1868) of the first Geological Survey of Illinois, numbered the principal minable seams from No. 1 to No. 7, No. 1 coal being in the lowest position. Numbers 8 to 16 and higher were generally applied by Worthen to thin seams above No. 7 coal bed. In the northern Illinois district in the vicinity of LaSalle, minable seams were called First Vein, Second Vein, and Third Vein from the surface down. These seams are No. 7, No. 6, and No. 2 respectively in present terminology.
      Since Worthen's time it has been found that the numbers were not always applied to the same coal seam. Additional coals and coal horizons normally occur between the originally numbered coals. The present Geological Survey (since 1905) has sought a consistent terminology for coal beds in the State. The numbers are consistently used for the most commonly mined No. 1, No. 2, No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7 coal beds, although little significance is attached to the chronology of the numbers, as several coals lie below No. 1 coal and others commonly lie between the numbered seams.
      Geographic names have been applied to most of the coal beds and horizons, the name generally being selected from an area where the bed is well exposed or has been mined, e.g., Rock Island No. 1, Colchester or LaSalle No. 2, Springfield or Harrisburg No. 5, Brereton, Herrin or Grape Creek No. 6, and Sparland or Danville No. 7 coal beds. At least 16 additional coals, which are listed in Table 1, occur in minable thickness and have been worked locally. Two or more of the coals listed separately may prove to be one seam when additional information has been acquired about areas which are inadequately known today. Less than 1 percent of Illinois production has been from these coal beds.
      Coal Quality -- Most Illinois coal is classed as high-volatile C bituminous coal (moist mineral-matter-free basis, B.T.U. from 11,000 to 13,000). Much of the coal in the southernmost mining fields is classed as high-volatile B bituminous coal (moist mineral-matter-free basis, B.T.U. from 13,000 to 14,000). High-volatile A coal (moist minera-lmatter-free, B.T.U. over 14,000, fixed carbon less than 69%, volatile matter over 31%) has been found in Illinois in the Eagle Valley area of Gallatin County south of the Shawneetown fault.
      Analyses of face channel samples from mines in most of the minable coal' seams in various parts of the State are reported in Illinois Geological Survey Bulletin 62 (Cady, 1935) and Bulletin 62 Supplement (Cady, 1948). Although no analyses of commercially prepared coals appear in these publications, the seam analyses presented do afford a basis for comparison of the different seams from coal-producing counties in the State.
      Illinois has the largest known reserves of bituminous coal in the United States, having an estimated total of 137 billion tons. North Dakota and Montana are the only states which have solid fuel reserves larger than Illinois, but their reserves are nearly all subbituminous coal and lignite. The Illinois total compiled in an intensive investigation of Illinois coal reserves recently completed by the Illinois Geological Survey, (Cady, G. H., and others, 1953, Minable Coal Reserves of Illinois, Illinois Geological Survey Bulletin 78, 138 pp.). Reserves were estimated for each coal bed for each county by thickness at approximately one-foot intervals and in four categories of probability: I-A, proved; I-B, probable; II-A, strongly indicated; II-B, weakly indicated. A minimum thickness of 28 inches was used to define minable coal. No limit was placed on depth since no coal in Illinois lies at sufficient depth to render it technically unminable.
      For purposes of estimating reserves, an area no more than one-half mile radius around a diamond drill hole, an outcrop, or a minedout area is considered Proved (I-A). Probable (I-B) reserves include coal under areas which extend no more than two miles from a diamond drill hole, outcrop, mined-out area or churn drill hole drilled for coal. Reserves in the Strongly-indicated (II-A) class were estimated for areas extending no more than four miles from datum points used in class I plus carefully logged churn drill oil tests and control rotary drill holes which were logged and sampled in the field by members of the Coal Division of the Geological Survey. Weakly-indicated reserves are estimated under additional areas where geologic information suggests that the coal is at least 28 inches thick. All reserves in the II-B class are assigned a thickness of 28 inches in the estimates.
      In comparing Illinois coal reserve figures with those of other states, it should be noted that the Illinois estimates include only coals at least 28 inches thick, whereas the other states' estimates commonly include coal as thin as 14 inches, or even 12 inches. The minimum thickness of 28 inches and the exclusion from the estimates of coal in oil-pool areas and under large towns make these latest estimates for Illinois more conservative than most reserve estimates that have been published.
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Beginning of Coal Mining in Illinois
      The beginning of coal mining in Illinois dates back to the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The first recorded instance we have is that in 1810 coal was mined from the outcroppings along the bluffs bordering on the Big Muddy River in Jackson County a few miles below the present city of Murphysboro. A flat-boat was loaded with coal in that year and shipped to New Orleans.
      The Journal of the Franklin Institute for 1836, quoted in Mineral Resources of the United States, 1913, page 832, says that the first actual mining operations conducted by white men were at the Mount Carbon, near Brownsville, in Jackson County, on the banks of the Big Muddy River, a short distance from its junction with the Mississippi. These mines were opened in 1810 and worked to a limited extent for many years.
      In 1832, the next recorded date, several flat-boats loaded with coal were sent to the New Orleans market. No doubt coal was mined between these dates, but in a very limited way, as the demand was confined almost exclusively to the blacksmithing trade.
      Coal mining began in St. Clair County about 1832 and was carried on in this County for domestic purposes, and also in Peoria, Rock Island, LaSalle and other points.
      In 1833, six thousand tons were hauled in wagons from the Belleville district to St. Louis. Evidently coal was mined in other parts of the State but we have no record of the amount.
      This year, 1833, marks the beginning of Government records of the production of coal and from these records the following tabulation has been made, showing the tonnage mined each year from 1833-1839:
Year Tons
1833 . . . . . . . 6,000
1834 . . . . . . . 7,500
1835 . . . . . . . 8,000
1836 . . . . . . . 10,000
1837 . . . . . . . 12,500
1838 . . . . . . . 14,000
1839 . . . . . . . 15,038

      The United States Census Report for 1840 gives the total output at 16,967 tons and 152 employees, distributed over nineteen counties.    . . . . . . .
      The first railroad in the Mississippi Valley was built in 1837 by a company organized by Governor Reynolds, and connected the mines along the bluffs with a point opposite St. Louis, a distance of six miles.
      At the close of 1849, fifty-two miles of railroad had been completed. Beginning with 1850, the construction of railroads began in earnest and by the close of that decade 2,781 miles were completed.
Production Subsequent to 1882
      Beginning with 1882, yearly reports by the coal operators have been made to the State government. At first these reports were made to the Bureau of Labor Statistics but by Act of the Legislature, effective July 1, 1911, they were required to be made to the State Mining Board. The Civil Administrative Code, passed in 1917, placed all subjects relating to mining under the jurisdiction of the Department of Mines and Minerals. From these reports made by the operators, the Annual Coal Report is compiled and tabulated.
      We find in the report of 1882 that forty-three counties produced coal. There were 685 mines in the State, of which 207 were "steam shafts", 140 "horsepower shafts", 9 were "steam slopes or shafts" and 329 "other slopes or drifts". The employees numbered 20,299, of whom 870 were under sixteen years old. The amount of capital invested in the industry was $8,230,180, and the annual capacity of the mines was placed at 18,079,637 tons, or about double the output of that year.
      From this time forward the industry advanced rapidly, not only in the amount of coal produced but in improvements in the mines, in working conditions for the employees and in methods of mining. These improvements are due in most part, if not entirely, to wise legislation and the careful supervision by conscientious men whose duty it is to supervise and enforce the laws.    . . . . . . .
A Brief History of Strip Mining
      Coal strip mining was begun nearly 75 years ago in Vermilion County where the coal seam was overlaid by a thin cover. Open cut or strip mining has been defined as the relatively simple process of removing the soil overlying shallow mineral deposits and of mining directly from the exposed seams. In the early days of the industry, this was true. Prior to 1910, overburden covering the coal deposits was removed by teams of horses and mules and slip or wheel scrapers. Such methods, of course, limited the operations to areas in which little or no deposits of rock formation were present. While it was possible at that early date to drill and blast rock, its removal by scraper methods was not economically feasible. As a result of the somewhat primitive methods employed in uncovering the coal seam, there were no large scale operations and the quantity of coal produced by this method was relatively small. The stripping method has been carried on continuously in this field to the present time (1-1-55) and has been extended to some twenty additional counties.
      The first strip mine producing coal for shipment by rail went into operation about 1910. This was made possible by the application of mechanical equipment for removing the overburden in larger quantities. Excavating shovels that were in use in the construction industry began to make their appearance in strip mining. These shovels operated by steam power and were mounted on wheels which rolled on tracks. The advantage of such equipment was immediately apparent. With the advent of the stripping shovel for removing the overburden, steam powered equipment also began to be used in loading the coal from the seam. Railroad tracks, usually narrow gauge, were laid into the pits and the coal hauled out by steam powered locomotives.
      Even though the introduction of mechanical equipment for the removal of overburden and loading and hauling the coal increased the productivity of the stripping operations, they were still confined to areas in which the overburden consisted largely of top soil and the softer unconsolidated strata. As a result, the coal produced by the new industry consisted entirely of outcrop coal. The cost advantages of stripping soon became apparent and more attention was given to drilling and blasting portions of the bank in order that it could be moved by the stripping equipment. This continued year after year, and the operations moved into areas overlaid by deeper overburden.
      By 1920, stripping equipment of special design had been constructed so that in many instances depths of overburden up to 45 or 50 feet was being removed. Shovel dippers of 5 and 6 yard capacity were common. In the early 20's, electrically powered stripping equipment became available and about the same time the practice of mounting stripping equipment on continuous crawlers became standard practice. In 1926 an electrically powered, crawler-mounted shovel with a 95 foot boom and 12 cubic yard dipper was constructed and becamean immediate success. Since that time, stripping equipment has grown by leaps and bounds. At present it is all electrically powered, shovels of 40 and 45 cubic yard capacity are quite common, and even larger equipment has been engineered or is under construction.
      The growth in size of stripping equipment was made possible by continually improving methods for drilling and blasting the overburden to be handled. At the present time, banks up to 65 feet in height, composed largely of rock strata, are quite common in the stripping industry, and it is not unusual to find banks up to 90 to 100 feet being moved under special circumstances. Along with the development of the large stripping shovel has come into use the so-called "walking dragline" which employs booms up to 250 feet in length and buckets up to 35 cubic yard capacity. Under favorable conditions these draglines carry on a complete overburden stripping operation, and in other cases work in tandem with stripping shovels.
      In 1946 another type of stripping equipment made its debut in the Illinois strip fields. This machine, known as the Kolbe Wheel Excavator, consisted of a revolving wheel on which was mounted eight excavating buckets that discharged onto a belt conveyor for disposal in the waste bank some 350 feet distant.
      In 1920, 0.6% of the 73,920,653 tons produced by the bituminous coal industry in Illinois was produced by strip mining methods. In 1953, 36.29% of the 45,966,114 tons of bituminous coal produced was mined by stripping.
      Coal being a non-renewable natural resource, strip mining is a conservation measure. In strip mining, 95% to 98% of the coal is recovered whereas in shaft mines the basis of recovery is from 50% to 60%. Since strip mining began in Illinois to the end of 1953, 339,414,839 tons have been produced by that method.

Coal Mining in Illinois
Extracted from the Annual Coal Reports of the State Of Illinois
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1924 Annual Coal Report 1
      The first discovery of coal in the United States was made in 1679 by Father Hennepin, one of the early explorers of the Mississippi Valley, near where the city of Ottawa is now situated, but there is no record of any mines being opened m that locality until long after mining was begun in the southern part of the State.
      The records of the early history of coal mining in Ilinois are very meager, the first record to be found states that coal was mined in Jackson County in 1810. These mines were on the Big Muddy River and worked by drift along the outcrop in the bluffs; a flatboat was loaded and shipped to New Orleans. No other record of mining appears until 1832, when several boat loads were sent from the same vicinity to market. The next year, 1833, 6,000 tons were mined in St. Clair County, and hauled by wagons to St. Louis.
      The United States census of 1840 records that coal was mined in 19 counties of Illinois to the amount of 16,968 tons and that 152 men were employed in the industry. From 1840 to 1860 we have no record of coal mining in the state, except the census report of 1850, which includes coal with all kinds of mining, stone, lead, etc. The census of 1860 gives the output of coal as 14,200,000 bushels, (568,000 tons), and the number of employees 1,049.
      No records can be found which show the progress of mining in this state until the census of 1870; here the number of counties producing coal is given as 37, with an output of 2,624, 163 tons for the year, and 6,301 men employed. The next record is the census of 1880. This gives the output for the year as 6,089,514 tons, the product of 46 counties, employing 16,301 men.
      The constitutional convention of 1870 incorporated into the Constitution the first provision authorizing the General Assembly to pass laws for the protection of men engaged in the operation of mines.
      The first mining law enacted under the provisions of the Constitution was by the Twenty-seventh General Assembly, 1871, approved March 27, 1872. This law provided for county inspectors and that reports be made to county boards. Amendments were made to this law by the 28th, 30th and 31st General Assemblies, but none of these amendments provided for making reports to any state officer. The Thirty-third General Assembly, 1883, amended the law by dividing the State into five inspection districts and provided for the appointment by the Governor of a State inspector for each district, and for the making of annual reports to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This law also provided for an examining board under the Bureau of Labor, whose duty it was to examine all applicants as to their fitness for state inspector of mines.
      In 1887 an Act was passed providing for the examination of all mines every morning by an agent of the proprietor.
      The General Assembly, in 1891, enacted a law which provided for the examination of applicants for mine manager by the Board of Examiners and prohibited the employment of any one as mine manager, in any mine equipped for shipping coal or any mine whose output may be 25 or more tons per day, after January 1, 1892, unless such person had first obtained a certificate of competency or a certificate of service, from said Board of Examiners.
      In 1895 a law was enacted dividing the State into seven districts with an inspector for each district, and providing for the examination by the State Board of Examiners of applicants for fire bosses and hoisting engineers, and prohibiting, after July 1, 1896, the employment of anyone as such without first obtaining a certificate of competency or service from said Examining Board. Certificates of competency were good at any mine in the State. Certificates of service were valid only at the mines where the persons employed had been in continuous service for one year or more. On April 19, 1906, the Examining Board by resolution, provided for the issuing, of mine managers' certificates of the first and second class. The first class certificates to apply to all mines in the State and the second class to apply to mines employing less than ten men.
      In 1899, a general revision of the mining law was enacted. Much that was ambiguous and inconsistent, resulting from numerous amendments to the old law, was eliminated and many changes and some new features were added. These changes included the elimination of the State Board of Examiners and provided for a board to be appointed by the Commissioners of Labor to be known as the State Mining Board. The name "Fire Boss " was changed to mine examiner and provisions made to exchange certificates of service for certificates of competency. This provision applied to hoisting engineers as well as to fire bosses. Required all mines, regardless of their capacity, to be in charge of certified mine managers, mine examiners, and hoisting engineers; giving the Board of Labor Commissioners the power to change inspection districts, and providing for the necessary traveling expenses of the inspectors; provided for the compensation of inspectors to be made by the State instead of the fee system, which required the owners of mines to pay a fee, varying from $6.00 to $10.00, according to the size of the mine and number of men employed, for the inspection; authorized the appointment by the board of supervisors, or county commissioners, of county inspectors of mines in any county in the State in which coal is produced. In the former Act county inspectors were authorized only in counties producing 800,000 tons or more per annum.
      In 1905 the Legislature provided for the division of the State into ten inspection districts with an inspector in each district, and also enacted what is known as the "shotfirers law." An amendment was passed in 1907 giving the Governor the power to appoint the State Mining Board. Prior to this time this power was vested in the Commissioners of Labor.
      An Act in force July 1, 1908, provided for the examination of all persons seeking employment as a coal miner, by a board to be styled "The Miners Examining Board." This board was to be created in each county of the State where the business of coal mining is carried on, and to consist of three practical coal miners to be appointed by the county judges in their respective counties.
      In 1910 an Act was passed providing for fire fighting equipment in coal mines, and mine fire fighting and rescue stations in coal fields.
      The General Assembly, in 1911, made a general revision of the mining law, amended several sections of the mine fire rescue stations law and enacted a law regulating the character of black blasting powder.
      Prior to 1911 the duty of compiling, tabulating and summarizing the reports of the State Inspectors, known as the annual coal report, was under the supervision of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This work was then transferred to the State Mining Board. The law also provided for twelve inspection districts with a State inspector for each district.
      In 1913 the law of 1908 creating the Miners Examining Board was amended, providing for a commission of three members to be appointed by the Governor, their salaries to be paid by the State. Said board to hold at least 12 examinations in as many places each calendar month. No person was allowed to mine coal without first obtaining a certificate of competency so to do, by satisfactorily answering the questions propounded by the board.
      The Fiftieth General Assembly, in 1917, passed what is known as the Civil Administrative Code, consolidating the executive activities of the State under nine Departments. All matters relating to the mining of coal and other minerals were placed under the Department of Mines and Minerals, the executive officers of which are: a Director and Assistant Director, a Mining Board consisting of four members and the Director of the Department, and a Miners' Examining Board of 4 members. This law became effective July 1, 1917, and on that day Evan D. John assumed the duties of Director and Martin Bolt, Assistant Director.
      The Department was then organized into the following divisions:
            General Office.
            Miners' Examination.
            Mine Rescue and First Aid.
      In compliance with the law, which gave the Department power to inquire into the economic conditions affecting mining, quarrying, metallurgical, clay, oil and other mineral industries, a new division was created soon after the Act became effective, known as Economic Investigation, and James Taylor was appointed to the office of investigator.
      An additional mine inspector, known as Inspector at Large, was provided for in the appropriation made to the Department by the Legislature in 1919, and Richard Neeson was appointed in July of that year.
      The Fifty-second General Assembly, in 1919, enacted a law to become effective January, 1922, governing the operation of metal mines and providing for an inspector of these mines, whose office was to be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Mines and Minerals. Upon the taking effect of this law, the Department created a division known as the Division of Fluorspar Inspection and Edward S. Smith was appointed Inspector.
      Evan D. John, the first Director of the Department, served from July 1, 1917, to the date of his death, November 29, 1918. Joseph C. Thompson was appointed director early in December, 1918, and served until April 12, 1920, when he was called by death. Soon after the death of Mr. Thompson, Martin Bolt, Assistant Director was named acting Director and served in that capacity until July 20 of that year, when Governor Lowden appointed Robert M. Medill, who served during the remainder of Governor Lowden's term and was reappointed by Governor Small and held the position till December, 1923, when he resigned. Martin Bolt, who had served as Assistant Director from July 1, 1917, when the law creating the department went into effect, was appointed Director and assumed the duties of the position on December 1, 1923, and Mr. A. D. Lewis was appointed Assistant Director to succeed Mr. Bolt.       . . . . .
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1935 Annual Coal Report 2
Story of Strip Mining in Illinois
By L. B. Sheley
      The story of strip coal mining has a peculiar connection with the history of coal in Illinois, not only because of its position in the production of coal in the State, but also because it was in what is now known as the State of Illinois that coal was first discovered in America, the discovery being made near the same field where after many discouraging efforts and over a long period of years, the dauntlessness of mining men was finally to conquer and make coal stripping a practicable and profitable industry.
      Coal was first discovered in America in the 17th Century somewhere between the present cities of Ottawa and Utica, Illinois. some historians credit Father Louis Hennepin, a French explorer, with the first discovery of coal in America and fixed the date as 1669; other writers make the statement that the first discovery of coal was made by Fathers Marquette and Joilet in 1673.
      The first government records of coal production in the State of Illinois covered the year 1883 and show the amount mined that year as 6,000 tons. In 1934, 101 years later, the amount produced in this State was in excess of 40,000,000 tons, of which total 6,222,000 tons was produced by strip mine operations.
      Coal stripping is the outgrowth of the efforts of men who used to gather coal at the outcroppings of the coal seams and sought to follow the seams by removing the with with hand shovels as the coal slowly descended farther and farther into the earth. When the seam descended too far for the use of dirt shovels in the hands of workers, teams with scrapers were brought into use in mining. First the slip scrapper then the wheeled scraper and finally powered stripping equipment was introduced.
      Kirkland, Blankey and Graves was the firm name of the group first to attempt strip mining near Danville, Illinois in 1866, while it was in the seventies that Michael Kelly first used the hand shovel method and then introduced teams and scrapers in Hungry Hollow in the same vicinity. The method used was to strip the coal in summer and mine it in winter, even in the earlier years of powered stripping ; but the introduction of powered shovels made it possible to remove frozen overburden from coal seams and continue operation both winter and summer. In the early days when scrapers were used the ground was first plowed then scrapers removed the dirt, first the one implement and then the other being used until the coal was uncovered. Teams and wagons were used to haul the coal from the pit. Today locomotives, in some instances operating on standard gauge railroad tracks, pull most of the coal that is mined in Illinois' strip pit operations.
      Strip mining methods were early applied to the production of coal in other states as well as Illinois, and Director McSherry of the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals, can speak with authority about the early beginning of the strip mining industry in the State of Kansas. Having been born in Scranton, Kansas, he became familiar with strip mine operations in the vicinity of that city. As early as 1867 coal which was mined in draws and ravines in the vicinity of Scranton was being hauled as far as Lawrence, Kansas, a distance of 40 miles, before railroad facilities had been extended to that part of the country. At Lawrence, the coal was traded for food and merchandise.
      The Consolidated Coal Company was one of the first organizations to begin strip mining in the Danville field on a large scale. Wright and Wallace, a Lafayette, Indiana, drainage contracting company received a contract from the Consolidated Coal Company to conduct some of its operations. A dredge without a hull was purchased and erected on a wooden frame. This dry land dredge had a wooden boom fifty feet in length, with a capacity of 400 cubic yards per day and was operated with a one cylinder steam engine. The outfit was moved forward with a block and tackle, the shovel dug forward only and moved over the field in a circle making a twenty foot cut. A second and later a third installation of this kind were put in operation, the latter having a 65 foot boom. These were abandoned in 1890, the operation having proven unsuccessful financially.
      Draglines were introduced into the Mission Field, near Danville, in 1890. The scraper buckets were of steel with open ends and teeth at the bottom edge. Cables raised and lowered the buckets and guided them, the forward and reverse motion being governed by ropes. Another cable was used to swing the drag down to dump its load. The cables were strung on a horizontal boom eighty feet in length. The bucket was lowered into the pit and dragged up the side to fill, being capable of three complete operations in a minute. The boom did not swing and the machine had to be moved frequently and much track work was required to keep the machine setting solid. Twenty foot cuts were made and the waste was dumped far enough from the cuts to prevent caving back over the coal. After the first operation the waste was deposited in cuts that had already been mined. In this particular section of the Mission Field there was no shale or overburden and an output of over 1,000 tons a day was accomplished. It was here the first machine mining was done, with one machine stripping the coal and another loading it into gondolas in which it was carried to the tipple. However, the project was abandoned when shale was encountered. In 1900 Butler Brothers had built a $30,000 drag line, three buckets, for use near Danville. The three drag buckets were respectively for dirt, for coal and for rock, the capacity being two cubic yards for each bucket. The machine was a failure because it was too cumbersome and because the bucket for stone was not practical. While other stripping shovels were introduced in this field they were not successful until about twenty-five years ago, when Hartshorn and Holmes, of the Mission Field Coal Company, induced the Marion Steam Shovel Company of Marion, Ohio, to build a 250 ton shovel with a 65 foot boom and with a three and one-half cubic yard dipper with fifty foot handle. The machine was built to swing the shovel in the arc of a circle. This shovel was placed in the Danville Coal Field in 1911 and is still in use there. The advent of this shovel, the first of its type, brought strip mining to the status of a practical and profitable industry after many discouraging and financially disastrous efforts, going back almost half a century.
      The No. 250 shovel, above referred to, was steam driven and mounted on railroad truck wheels and was equipped with hydraulic equalizing and leveling jacks, outside boom, inside handle and triple hitch hoisting cables, most of these being fundamental features and still employed in the modern shovels of today.
      It was in 1923 that the first Ward-Leonard electrically driven shovel was installed in this State. It was purchased by the Black Servant Coal Company of Elkville with which Mr. Hartshorn of Danville was also identified. The use of electrically powered shovels is extensive in the strip mines of today.
      In 1925 the first large crawler shovel for coal stripping was installed at Cuba, Illinois. It was equipped with a single reduction herringbone hoist gear and was installed at the property of the United Electric Coal Company.
      In 1928 the first 12 cubic yard shovel was installed at Wilmington by the Northern Illinois Coal Corporation and in 1935 this same company installed at its workings near Wilmington a new shovel with a 32 cubic yard dipper, said to be the largest in the world. This is one of the Illinois companies that produced a million tons of coal in 1935, and recently extensive improvements have been made in the facilities of this organization.
      This briefly pictures the advancements in coal stripping from its earliest days down to the present. In 1935 more than 16 percent of the coal produced in Illinois came from strip mines.
      The appointment of James McSherry of DuQuoin, formerly head of the Perfection Coal Company of that city, a strip mining organization, to the office of Director of Mmes and Minerals marked the first recognition of the strip mining industry to that important office.
      For information from which the above article was prepared the Department is indebted to the following individuals and organizations:
Frank Gilday, Scranton, Kansas.
Dr. John J. Rutledge, Chief Mine Engineer, Maryland Bureau of Mines.
D. J. Shelton, the Marion Steam Shovel Company, Marion, Ohio.
Eugene Rochelle, DuQuoin, Illinois.
Kenneth Holmes, Danville, Illinois.
W. G. Hartshorn, Danville, Illinois.
E. T. Obenchain, Assistant Editor, The Excavating
The Bucyrus-Erie Company, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Engineering and Mining Journal.
The Joliet "Herald-News."
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1966 Annual Coal Report 3
Coal Mining in Illinois
      Coal is one of Illinois' most important mineral resources. Within the borders of America, Illinois ranks fourth in coal production; being preceded by West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
      The first discovery of coal on the North American Continent was made in Illinois. Joliet and Marquette, on their voyage of exploration in 1673, discovered coal seams in the bluffs along the Illinois River in the vicinity of Ottawa and Utica. A few years later, a map made by another explorer, Father Louis Hennepin, locates a "coal mine" in that area. It was almost a century later before coal was discovered in Pennsylvania and other eastern states, but it was more than 160 years before there was any large-scale effort to capitalize on Illinois' vast coal resources.
      During the period of pioneering and settlement in Illinois, there was little use for coal except for blacksmithing. The smiths, too, were largely ignorant of the use of coal, because nearly everyone in those days, when the land was heavily timbered, burned wood or charcoal. What coal was mined was taken from the seams exposed along the river bluffs, and the settlers believed that Illinois' coal deposits were largely confined to the river valleys.
      The first recorded commercial shipment of Illinois coal was in 1810, when a raft loaded with coal from the American Bottom, in Jackson County, was floated down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Within a few years the infant industry was showing definite signs of progress and growth. It received the greatest stimulation in those early days from the St. Louis market. There, immediately across the Mississippi, lay the largest city in the West -- a city which was willing to pay liberally for the coal which would supplant bulky, inconvenient wood as the source of its heat and power.
      Coal mines encouraged the building of railroads, railroads stimulated the digging of more coal mines, and the combination of railroad transportation and an abundance of coal made Illinois an industrial center and a transportation hub of the nation.
      Illinois coal has played a major role in the development of the great industrial centers of Peoria, Rockford, Springfield, Decatur, and dozens of other Illinois localities, including the rapidly grown industrialization of Southern Illinois. Illinois is able to produce a constant supply of coal for industries of this vast area, not only because of the efficiency and enterprise of our mine labor, engineers, and operators in our rich and long established underground mines, but because of the development of strip mining which now accounts for 57.1 per cent of the total coal production of Illinois, and for an even greater percentage of the coal produced for shipping.
      In 1966, Illinois underground coal mines and strip mines in operation totaled eighty-five.
Deepest and Largest Coal Mines in the Nation
are Located in Illinois!
The deepest and largest coal mines in history are both located in
Christian County, Illinois
      The deepest bituminous coal mine in the United States was located at Assumption in Christian County. A shaft 1,020 feet deep. It was abandoned in 1929 because of a fire which occurred there. At Pawnee, in Christian County, is the worlds' largest shaft coal mine, the Peabody #10 Mine. It is a modern plant completely mechanized, and produces in excess of 5,500,000 tons of coal annually.
      While Illinois has many other "firsts" in the coal industry made possible by the combination of progressive industry, management, and far-seeing state government, Nature itself has been the chief endower of the State's vast coal resources. For millions of years before Joliet and Father Marquette made their original discovery of coal in Illinois, Nature had gone to work to deposit rich peat beds in the marshes and lakes and cover them over with sediment. As layers of the luxurious foliage fell and were buried by more layers of sediment, pressure began to be exerted on the lower ones. Along with the heat from the interior of the earth and other influences, the combustibles of the virgin trees and undergrowth were sealed into lignite, then into sub-bituminous coal and finally into the soft black substance -- bituminous coal -- which, when recovered today, has enabled America to build and maintain the greatest production industry in the world.
      Bituminous coal usually has three layers, or bands. One band is the bright, or glance coal, a second, the dull coal, and the third, the mineral charcoal. The glance coal is composed of a woody material, while the dull coal is made up of various sorts of plant materials, seed cases, pollen, resin and the more resistant parts of plants. The charcoal is thought to have resulted from forest fires, or may have been caused by the effect of oxidation of the surface of the peat when exposed. But while all bituminous coal has the same general characteristics, different coal seams, or layers, possess varying and individual characteristics.
Formations Correspond to Appalachian System
      Practically three-fifths of the state of Illinois is underlaid with coal deposits. There are approximately eighteen geographical seams of coal identified in various sections of the state. Not all of these seams, however, are of sufficient thickness for profitable mining, and the seams vary in depth from the earth's surface, ranging in some counties to well over 1,000 feet and actually out-cropping in river banks and on the sides of denuded hills in others. The Assumption Mine, referred to earlier, having a shaft of 1,020 feet reached down to seam No. 1, as well as passing through No. 2 just above.
      Coal bearing rocks in Illinois have been divided into three formations, corresponding in the main to the sub-divisions of the same system in the Appalachian region. The lowest formation is called the Pottsville; the center one the Carbondale, and the upper one the McLeansboro.
      Nomenclature of the principal Illinois coal seams is given as follows:
Coal Seam No. 1 . . . . . . . Rock Island (No. 1) coal
Seville (No. 1) coal
Assumption (No. 1) coal
Coal Seam No. 2 . . . . . . . LaSalle (No. 2) coal
Colchester (No. 2) coal
Murphysboro (No. 2) coal
Coal Seam No. 5 . . . . . . . Springfield (No. 5) coal
Rushville (No. 5) coal
Harrisburg (No. 5) coal
Blair (No. 5) coal
Coal Seam No. 6 . . . . . . . Belleville (No. 6) coal
Herrin (No. 6) coal
Grape Creek (No. 6) coal
Coal Seam No. 7 . . . . . . . Streator (No. 7) coal
Danville (No. 7) coal.

      These arc the principal seams. Of the seven principal seams in Illinois, chief production for rail shipment has been from seams Nos. 2, 5 and 6, with comparatively little from 1 and 7.
Location of Coal Trace Districts in the State
      In the early days, coal mining was confined chiefly to the Northern and Southwestern parts of the state. This being due to the industrial markets located there. At that time, LaSalle and Grundy Counties in the North, and Madison and St. Clair Counties in the Southern part of the state were dominantly important, principally because of their market nearness and water transportation. It is interesting to note by production figures that in 1840 all the producing mines with the exception of one, bordered on the Mississippi, the Illinois, or the Wabash Rivers. The Table listed below gives the top ten producing counties and their production. Note also that the production is in bushels, rather than tons. It takes approximately 25 bushels to make a ton.
County Production
in Bushels
St. Clair . . . . . . . 129,396
Madison . . . . . . . 97,250
Sangamon . . . . . . . 82,000
Scott . . . . . . . 52,200
Jackson . . . . . . . 15,000
Peoria . . . . . . . 12,000
Randolph . . . . . . . 6,011
Schuyler . . . . . . . 5,230
Marshall . . . . . . . 4,000
Vermilion . . . . . . . 2,800
Warren . . . . . . . 2,800
      The preceding is the top ten producing counties out of nineteen counties producing coal in 1840.
      In 1912, there were 21 counties reporting coal production. Of these 21, the following were the top ten ranking counties: Williamson, Sangamon, Macoupin, St. Clair, Saline, Franklin, Madison, Vermilion, Fulton and Montgomery.
      In 1940, there were 54 counties reporting coal production. During this year, the above listed counties with the exception of Montgomery and Madison still remained in the top ten rank of production. This year Perry and Christian Counties were among the top ten.
      In 1960, there were 37 counties reporting production. The top ten were again, Williamson, Fulton, St. Clair, Franklin, Christian, Jefferson, Pern, Saline, Knox and Montgomery.
      In 1966, there were 25 counties reporting production, and of these, the top ten were: Perry, Fulton, Franklin, Williamson, St. Clair, Christian, Randolph, Montgomery, Jefferson and Saline.
      By the preceding paragraphs, you can evidence that the number of counties producing coal during the last 55 years have lessened tremendously, however, the counties ranking in the top ten of production have remained about the same, their rank having varied from year to year. St. Clair and Randolph Counties have ranked in the top ten producing counties since 1840.
      Listed below is a Table showing the top ten ranking coal producing counties with their total production for the year, 1966. Production is given in tons.
County Production
in Tons
Perry . . . . . . . 8,761,000
Fulton . . . . . . . 8,512,881
Franklin . . . . . . . 7,598,406
Williamson . . . . . . . 6,901929
St. Clair . . . . . . . 6,114,034
Christian . . . . . . . 5,635,573
Randolph . . . . . . . 3,858,353
Montgomery . . . . . . . 3,301,384
Jefferson . . . . . . . 2,767,835
Saline . . . . . . . 2,648,085
Total . . . . . . . 56,099,480

      The total production of all mines for the year 1966 was 63,212,697 tons. Of this grand total, 36,080,526 tons were mined from strip mines, which gives some idea of the importance of strip mining in Illinois.
A Century of Strip Mining in Illinois
      Coal strip mining was begun a hundred years ago at
Grape Creek, near Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois
      by three gentlemen by the names of Hugh W. Blakeney, William Kirkland, and George Groves. In 1866 they used horse drawn plows and scrapers to remove overburden from a coal bed. Prior to 1866, coal had been dug out of the earth's surface by hand. For decades, however, these efforts were for family needs, only.
      After failing at commercial strip mining west of Danville in 1854, Abraham Lincoln's friend and law partner, Ward Hill Lamon, organized and incorporated the first strip mine corporation in 1855. However, the corporation died before it opened for business.
      Despite numerous attempts of "family" mining of coal on farms, the Grape Creek operation was the first really sizeable commercial strip mining enterprise.
      Illinois has come a long way in coal strip mining since the Grape Creek mining operation a century ago, when the overburden was removed by horse and mule teams and scrapers. The coal was "wedged off" with sledge hammers and wedges, then hand loaded into bushel baskets, wheelbarrows and horse-drawn wagons.
      Operators in 1885 grew restless with the slow, horse-drawn equipment until an operator installed a converted wood dredge in the Danville area. The hull had been removed and the machine had been placed on wheels for track operation. The 50 ft. boom was able to strip up to 35 ft. of overburden over the 6 ft. coal bed. Although overburden removal with the 1¼ yd. dipper was only 400 yd. for a 10 hour day, this was considered good performance and two more machines were soon put to work.
      Since 1885, many of the improvements made on stripping equipment and on auxiliary equipment used in surface mining, resulted from pioneering efforts in Illinois coal fields. Today we find two of the largest stripping units, the Bucyrus-Erie 140 yd. 3850-B shovel and the Marion 180 yd. 6360 shovel, working in Southern Illinois pits. The largest overburden drills and coal haulers are also found in the same area.
      Illinois has still another reason to be proud of its surface mining record. In recent years, it has led the parade of states by this method. For 1966, this amounted to 36,080,526 tons or 57.1 percent of the total state production of coal.
      Although 13 of Illinois' 25 producing counties have surface mine productions, five in the southern part -- St. Clair, Randolph, Perry, Williamson and Saline -- produced better than 60.3% of the total in 1966. These are located along the southern crop areas where reasonable bed depths permit stripping. Perry County has only surface mine production, while the adjoining counties north and east have only underground production.
      Perry County represents an unusual production situation. Three surface mines produced 8,761,000 tons in 1966, an average of slightly more than 2,920,000 tons per mine. Fulton County in the west central area, near Peoria, now second in surface mine production, produced 8,512,881 tons and had 8 mines for an average production of 1,064,110 tons per mine.
      Such widespread surface mining activity means extensive changes in topography of the land -- flat or slightly rolling Illinois land has been changed to the miniature hills and depressions of spoil banks. Responsible coal operators have long recognized the need for proper reclamation and have carried on programs designed to get the best results. Today we find extensive reclaimed areas providing recreation for thousands of people.
      Does Illinois have enough strippable coal left to make another century of mining possible? Most recent estimation by the Illinois Geological Survey indicates reserves at less than 1 50 ft. depth and in excess of 18 in. thick to total more than 18 billion tons, and approximately two-thirds occur at depths not exceeding 100 ft.
      Illinois will be stripping coal for a long time to come -- certainly more than another 100 vears.

Illinois Coal Mining
Extracted from "Coal Men of America" 1918 4
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      Illinois has so many claims upon the consideration of the coal men of America that it is difficult to decide just what particular feature of its overwhelming importance as producer and consumer should be given precedence. Its leading city shares with Pittsburgh the honor of being the largest coal consuming center in the country. As a coal producer it is outranked only by Pennsylvania and West Virginia. On the side of potential coal production it contains the largest commercial coal bearing area in the United States. To meet its fuel requirements it draws upon the resources of ten other states and in turn distributes a substantial proportion of its own tonnage to 17 states from Minnesota and North Dakota on the north to Texas on the south, Nebraska on the west, and Tennessee and Ohio on the east. While Indiana and the southeastern Mississippi Valley marks the normal limits of its eastern movements, the strenuous times of the past three years have seen Illinois coal go into Canada, New York state and Connecticut.
      The coal fields of the state form the western part of the eastern interior basin which includes Illinois, Indiana and western Kentucky. Technically the state has been divided into 14 fields and six beds, but, as current commercial matter, the mines of the state have been classified into six major groups and two important subsidiary groups. The 14 fields mentioned by the State Geological Survey are as follows: Rock Island, Northern, Wilmington, Peoria-Fulton, Grape Creek, Springfield, Virden, Pana, Central Illinois, Centralia, Williamson- Franklin, Big Muddy, and Saline. The major commercial groups are: (1) The Southern Illinois District, comprising Franklin, Saline, and Williamson counties and portions of adjoining counties, including the Duquoin district in Perry County; (2) the Central Illinois field, which includes the Springfield, Virden, Pana and Centralia fields; (3) the Belleville or Standard District, designated by the State Survey as Central Illinois, which covers the counties contiguous to the St. Louis- East St. Louis industrial district; (4) the Danville (Grape Creek) field in Vermilion County; (5) the Fulton-Peoria County fields, and (G) the Northern field in Bureau, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, Putnam, Kankakee, Livingston, Woodford and Marshall counties, i. e., the Northern and Wilmington fields of the State Survey classification. The Big Muddy-MurphysIjoro field in Jackson county, while of limited area, is of considerable commercial importance. The Duquoin subdivision hits already been mentioned. The Rock Island field in Mercer and Rock Island counties is of only limited importance.
      Of the six seams mentioned No. 1 is of the least commercial importance at the present time. This bed is worked most actively in Mercer and Rock Island counties, where the output is most readily accessible to the Tri-Cities, which are its chief market. It is also found in Brown, Calhoun, Greene, Hancock, Henry, Jersey, McDonough, Schuyler, Scott and Warren counties. No. 2 coal is of greatest commercial importance in the Northern Illinois-Wilmington field, where it is known to the trade as "Third Vein'" and in the Big Muddy district in Jackson county. The deposits in the No. 2 bed in the latter field are said to be more nearly akin to the high grade coals of the eastern states than at any other part of Illinois. The Jackson county coal, according to Professor Andros, "has less volatile matter, more fixed carbon, less ash and moisture and a higher calorific value than the coal in any other (Illinois) district." A thin vein of No. 2 coal is also found in Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Henry, McDonough, Mercer, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott and Warren counties.
      Between 25 and 30 per cent, of the coal mined in the state comes from the No. 5 seam which underlies the Central Illinois, Harrisburg and Fulton-Peoria fields. This bed is found in Cass, DeWitt, Fulton, Gallatin, Knox, Logan, Macon, Mason, Menard, McLean, Peoria, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Tazewell and Woodford counties. The Franklin-Williamson and Belleville groups are the principal factors in the No. 6 bed, although portions of the Central Illinois field, Jackson county, Perry county (Duquoin district) and the Grape Creek (Danville) district, contribute no mean tonnages to the aggregate that gives this bed over half of the annual commercial production of the state. In detail the No. 6 bed is reported in Bond, Christian, Clinton, Franklin, Jackson, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Moultrie, Perry, Randolph, Sangamon, Shelby, St. Clair, Washington and Williamson counties. No. 7 coal is found in Edgar and Vermilion counties, but the total production is small.
      What is believed to be the earliest mention of coal in the history of the United States is a reference to Illinois deposits. Until a few years ago credit for this reference was given to a French missionary, Father Hennepin, for his journal entry of 1679 of the existence of a "cole" mine above Fort Crevecoeur, near the site of the city of Ottawa. Recent investigation, however, gives the first mention as of the year 1673, when the discovery of coal near the present city of Utica was made by Joliet and Marquette. This was mapped by the first named explorer the year following its discovery. The next mention, after Father Hennepin's, was by Father Charlevoix in 1720, when the statement was made that "many coals" were found in the environs of what is now LaSalle. Further reference to Illinois coal is made in "Travels through the Interior Parts of North America in 1766, 1767 and 1768 by J. Carver, Esq." The existence of coal in the Northern Illinois fields is again recorded in Kennedy's account of his search for a copper mine in 1773 and in "Morse's American Gazetteer," published in 1797.
      As far as known the earliest record of shipment dates back to 1810, when a flatboat load of coal was shipped from Brownsville, Jackson county, on the Big Muddy river, to New Orleans. Discovery of coal in this part of the country came about, according to "Beck's Gazetteer of the States of Illinois and Missouri," published in 1823, in the following manner: "Coal exists in abundance on this alluvian and the bluffs which bound it. Its discovery was made in a very singular manner. Many years since, a tree taking fire, communicated to its roots, which continued burning for some time. Upon examination, they were found to communicate with a bed of coal, which continued to burn until the fire was completely smothered by the falling in of a large mass of incumbent earth. About two miles from this place a coal bank has been opened -- the vein is as thick as any at Pittsburgh."
      Beck, in the same publication quoted from above, also refers to the existence of coal deposits in Clark, Greene, Jackson, Pike and Sangamon counties and in the vicinity of Alton, the Big Muddy river, Cahokia, Chicago creek. Crooked creek. Fox river, Redbud creek, Otter creek, Peoria, Spoon river and Sugar creek. As early as 1830 St. Clair county coal was used locally for blacksmithing purposes. In 1831 Peck, in his "Guide for Emigrants," stated that "exhaustless beds" of coal exist in the bluffs of St. Clair county and that large quantities were being sold in St. Louis at from 10 to 12½ cents per bushel. Another writer, three years later, declared that the St. Louis trade totaled thousands of bushels annually. One record for 1833 stated that 150,000 bushels had been hauled by wagon from St. Clair county mines to St. Louis.
      Although between 1833 and 1850, the estimated production in the state increased from 6,000 to 300,000 tons, it was not until the era of railroad development began, in the early '50s, that the industry began to come into its own. In 1860 production had reached 728,400 tons and at the close of the Civil War was 1,260,000. Until the middle '50s the center of mining activity upon a commercial scale appears to have been in St. Clair county in the Belleville district, and that field held the lead for a number of years. In 1856 the LaSalle county beds began to assume importance and nine years later the discovery of coal in Will county and the organization of the Chicago & Wilmington Coal Co. (the father of the present C, W. & F. Coal Co.) pushed the third vein field further towards the front. About the same time development upon a commercial scale was begun in the Danville district. While the Belleville district has always remained an important factor in the total production of the state, the center of production, in the Northern field (LaSalle county) has been gradually shifting south. Between 1886 and 1905, both inclusive, Macoupin or Sangamon counties (Central Illinois) led in production 13 out of 20 years. Since 1907 the honors have gone to the Williamson-Franklin county field.
      Under normal conditions about 45 per cent, of the total production of the state is consumed in local industrial enterprises and for domestic uses. The largest individual customers of the Illinois mines are, of course, the railroad companies, some of which control extensive mining operations of their own. While the major railroad fuel consumption is by transportation companies having direct connection with the Illinois mines, during the past two years (1916-1917) Illinois coal has been used as locomotive fuel by roads in Canada and the Northwest and by carriers operating west of the Missouri river. Upon a general commercial basis, the Chicago industrial district is the heaviest consumer. In 1915 this district used 7,853,675 tons of Illinois coal. During that year the output of the state was distributed as follows:
      Used within the state, 26,781,713 tons, divided as follows: Consumed at mines, 1,533,609 tons; sold locally, 2,470,114 tons; shipped to intrastate points, 22,778,530 tons. Shipped to Arkansas, 128,950 tons; Indiana, 825,601 tons; Iowa, 3,053,413 tons; Kansas, 414,467 tons; Kentucky, 6,807 tons; Louisiana, 67,338 tons; Michigan, 83,256 tons; Minnesota, 1,334,330 tons; Mississippi, 90,577 tons; Missouri, 4,391,722 tons; Nebraska, 938,905 tons ; North Dakota, 106,674 tons ; Ohio, 3,036 tons; South Dakota, 319,370 tons; Tennessee, 68,559 tons; Texas, 20,648 tons; Wisconsin, 1,260,188 tons; total, 13,119,841 tons; railroad consumption, 18,928,022 tons; grand total, 58,829,576 tons.
      As a consumer of coal for industrial and household purposes Illinois in the aggregate uses more fuel than any other state in the Union but Pennsylvania. Its normal consumption of bituminous coal alone is in excess of the combined anthracite and bituminous consumption of the six New England states, although the intense concentration of manufacturing enterprise along the North Atlantic seaboard during 1916-1917 suggests that this record may not have held true during the past 24 months. As to its status as an individual consuming state, in comparison with other states considering individually, however, there is no question.
      Primarily, this record is made possible because of the heavy consumption of fuel in the Chicago industrial district. This consumption represents over 50 per cent, of the total fuel requirements of the state. It is the factor that brings the per capita bituminous consumption of Illinois above that of any other state in the Union. The per capita bituminous coal consumption for 1915 was 5.91 tons; of anthracite, .54 ton, making a total per capita of 6.45 tons -- a record exceeded by but one state, Delaware. Upon a square mile basis, Illinois consumption, 764 tons, ranks a close fourth to the New York record of 772 tons. The greater density in population in the eastern states, however, permits higher square mile consumption in Pennsylvania, the New England group and New York state.
      Exclusive of railroad and steamship fuel, the total consumption in the state for 1915, as reported by the United States Geological Survey, was 43,268,850 tons. Pennsylvania anthracite contributed 3,292,000 tons to this total. The bituminous consumption was divided as follows: Illinois, 26,781,713 tons; Indiana, 4,044,538 tons ; Iowa, 17,700 tons ; Kentucky, 864,047 tons ; Maryland, 20,783 tons; Ohio, 287,561 tons; Pennsylvania, 1,677,186 tons; Virginia, 120,300 tons; West Virginia, 5,079,033 tons; lake coal, 1,084,000 tons; total, 39,976,850 tons.
      In addition a small tonnage was received from Missouri, but this total is reported with receipts under Arkansas.
      The only complete figures covering consumption at Chicago were compiled by the Chicago Association of Commerce in 1913 in connection with its report upon "Smoke Abatement and Electrification of Railway Terminals in Chicago."
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Big Creek Colliery Co.
Peoples Gas Building
Chicago, ILL.
      One of the largest and most important of Illinois coal companies is the Big Creek Colliery Co., with headquarters at Chicago. This company, of which Charles I. Pierce is President and C. E. Karstrom Secretary and Sales Manager, is the selling organization of two large operating companies in the Southern Illinois field as follows:
      SALINE COUNTY COAL CO., with five operations in Saline County, Illinois, operating since 1906, and located on the Big Four, Illinois Central and Louisville & Nashville Railway, producing "Premium" Harrisburg coal.
      BIG CREEK COAL CO., with three operations in Fulton County, Illinois, operating since 1904, on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway and the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway, producing "Big Creek" coal.
      This company is equipped to fill all kinds of contracts. Its products arc known as "Premium" and "Big Creek" coals.
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Mitchell & Dillon Coal Co.
Chicago, Illinois
      One of the oldest and widely-known of Chicago coal firms, was founded in 1875 in Burlington, Iowa, but removed soon after to Chicago. They were the first, about 1889, to make their headquarters in the Bedford Building, which afterward became the home of many of the Chicago coal trade.
      A. Mitchell, the founder, died October 13, 1913, and W. J. Dillon, who had started as an office boy in the firm, became, and still is, President of the company. A. Mitchell, a son of the founder, is now Secretary-Treasurer.
      The firm, in specializing in certain grades of bituminous coal and anthracite, has gained a wide reputation not only at the mines but in the West and Northwest.
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Oglesby Coal Co.
Oglesby, Illinois
      This company, with both office and mine at Oglesby, LaSalle County, Illinois, was organized in 1867 by Thacher T. Bent, and is one of the oldest and best known companies in Illinois. During its existence of over half a century it has been owned and operated by the Bent family.
      The mine is located on the Illinois Central Railway, Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway. The coal is the Third vein, thin seam, Illinois, of a high grade quality for steam and domestic purposes, the mine being especially equipped to prepare most of its product of 225,000 tons annually for domestic use.
      The personnel of the company at present is as follows:
      President -- Edward T. Bent of Chicago.
      Secretary and Treasurer -- Henry A. Bent of Oglesby.
      Superintendent -- J. Raymond Bent of Oglesby.
      President Bent has been actively engaged in the coal industry for thirty-nine years. His knowledge was relied upon to a great degree by the Illinois Coal Operators' Association since its formation in 1898, and in all Joint conferences of operators and miners he took a most active part.
      Secretary and Superintendent Bent are both practical coal operators, with a thorough knowledge of conditions that govern the conditions of thin seam mining in the northern part of Illinois.
      The Bent family, coming originally from the western part of Massachusetts, has been so long associated with the coal mining industry of Illinois that no movement for the betterment of the operating end of the trade can be touched upon without some reference to this respected family.

Sources :
1 Forty-Third Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1924
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1924; pp 315-317

2 Fifty -Fourth Coal Report of Illinois, 1935
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois; pp 116-119

3 Eighty-Fifth Coal Report of Illinois, 1966
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois; pp 111-118

4 Coal Men of America
                A Biographical and Historical Review of the World's Greatest Industry.
                by : Arthur M. Hall, Editor-In-chief & Sydney A. Hale, Assistant Editor
                Chicago, The Retail Coalman, Inc., 1918; pp 49-51

5 A Compilation of the Reports of the Mining Industry of Illinois
                from the Earliest Records to 1954
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois; pp 9-18, 27-28


Coal & Coal Mining in Illinois

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