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Historic Coal Mining

The Importance and Legacy of Coal


Lessons Prepared by Trout Unlimited
With Funds from Pennsylvania Department of
Environmental Protection
What is Coal?
Black rock that occurs as layers in the earth
(coal seams or coal beds)
Formed from compressed and heated remains
of plant material
Composed of Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen,
Nitrogen, and Sulfur
Fossil Fuel; Combustible

Plants grew in a swamp 300
million years ago
Plants died and were
covered with dirt.
Water covered the swamp and
pressed on the dead plants
Dead Plants
Dirt
Dirt &
Rocks
Coal
Heat and pressure turned the
dead plants into coal.
Four Types of Coal

Bituminous
45-86% Carbon


Sub Bituminous
35-45% Carbon

Anthracite
86+% Carbon

Lignite
25-35% Carbon
Map provided by US Energy Information Administration (1997)
http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=coal_reserves Map provided by USGS http://pa.water.usgs.gov/projects/energy/amd/
Important Time Periods of Coal
1700 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980
Coal was first
found in US
1700
Industrial
Revolution
1700-1900
World War I
1914-1918
Great
Depression
1929-1940
World War II
1939-1945
Federal
Regulation
Passed 1977
Map of Virginia. Made using National Atlas
http://www.nationalatlas.gov/mapmaker
Coal was first found in PA in the early 1760s
Coal was first mined at Coal Hill which is now called
Mt. Washington
This coal was moved by canoe to Fort Pitt


Coal Discovery in the US and PA
Coal was first found in the United States in 1701.
Coal was found in Richmond, Virginia

Current picture of Richmond VA. Provided by Aerial Archives
http://www.aerialarchives.com/Aerial-Photographs-of-
Richmond.htm
Mt Washington Incline Provided by City of Pittsburgh
http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/district2/html/mount_w
ashington.html
Current photo of Mt Washington. Provided
by Project for Public Spaces
http://www.pps.org/great_public_spaces/o
ne?public_place_id=552
The Industrial Revolution
Coals role in development and culture
Industrial Revolution
Took place in the 18th to 19th centuries
Marked a shift from predominantly rural societies to
industrial and urban societies.
Early manufacturing was done using hand tools or
basic machines. Industry now began using powered,
special-purpose machinery, factories and mass
production.
Coals Use in the Revolution
Coal was used in industries where high temperatures
were needed.
Iron
Steel
Glass
Many industries were founded in PA due to the
availability of coal.

Molten Iron. Provided by Penn
State University
http://www.personal.psu.edu/cms5
480/blogs/saracco/project-4.html
Steel being produced. Provided by American Steel and
Iron Institute http://www.steel.org/
Modern glass production. Provided by Fives Stein Group
http://www.fivesgroup.com/FivesStein/EN/Expertise/Glass
/Products/PatternedGlass/Pages/PatternedGlass.aspx
Coals Use in the Revolution
The demand to transport coal spurred the
development of an extensive railroad system.
Coal was also used to build the rail system
Building materials for railroads (Iron rails, bridges, etc..)
Powering engines
Many of the railroads used today were originally
built to transport coal

Railroads of PA. Map made using National Atlas http://www.nationalatlas.gov/
Railroad construction. Photo provided by Clemson University
http://www.clemson.edu/caah/history/FacultyPages/PamMack/l
ec122/amtran.htm
Coal fired steam engine. Provided by Golden Rail
http://www.goldenrailvideo.com/RT.html
Steam engine which was used to transport coal.
Cultural Impact
The mining of coal required many workers
Workers were also needed in the other industries coal
supported.
Many immigrants came to the coal region to work in
the mines

Machine shop at a mine. Photo Provided by Coal and
Coke Heritage Center
http://polishpierogi.com/
http://www.northsidekitchen.co
m/
Machine shop at a mine. Photo Provided by Coal and
Coke Heritage Center
http://www.coalcampusa.com/westpa/klondike/buffington/
buffington.htm
This chart shows the nationalities of miners
in the Bituminous region in 1907. Adapted
from Reports of the Immigration
Commission Bituminous Coal Mining
http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=
julZAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&outpu
t=reader
Coal miner sit at the breaker house waiting for their shift.
Photo provided by PA Coal Mining History.
http://coalmininghistorypa.org/
This immigration changed the culture of PA.
Many foods we eat today came from these immigrant
cultures
Religions moved to the area with miners
Many PA dialects are from this cultural movement.

Cultural Impact
Pizza rolls were common in the lunches of
Italian miners. Photo provided by Bukisa.
ww.bukisa.com/articles/153550_homemad
e-pepperoni-rolls-delicious
Haluski is a popular polish dish that was brought
to the area by immigrants. Photo provided by
Northside Kitchen. www.northsidekitchen.com/

Pierogies have become a common
dish but were originally brought to the
area from Polish immigrants. Photo
provided by Polish Foods.com.
polishpierogi.com/
Roman Catholic Church started by Italians in Coal
Hollow. Photo provided by Coal Campus
www.coalcampusa.com/westpa/shawmut/coal_hollow/coal
_hollow.htm
Byzantine Catholic Church started
by Hugarians in Brownsville PA.
Photo provided by St. Nicholas
Center
www.stnicholascenter.org/galleries/
gazetteer/419/
Orthodox Church started by
Slovacians in McKees Rocks PA.
Photo provided by St. Nicholas
Center
www.stnicholascenter.org/galleries/g
aetteer/400/
Cultural Impacts
These workers lived in towns often times called:
Coal Towns, Patch Towns, or Company Towns
Everything was built and owned by the coal company
Miners were under paid, and the companies over charged
for supplies
Miners also faced dangers in the mines
Mine collapses and explosions were common
Many miners died in the mines or of health issues related
to mining

Pay stubs like this show how little miners were paid and how much
they owed. Photo provided buy Perry Polis
www.perryopolis.com/sjpayday95.shtml
The town of Marianna was almost entirely built by the coal company. Photo
provided by Coal Campus
www.coalcampusa.com/westpa/klondike/marianna/marianna.htm
World War I
PA Coals Role in the Fight and the
Implications
World War I
World War I lasted from 1914- 1918
The fighting was mainly limited to Europe
US involvement was in support of our Allies
US also provided many of the supplies needed in
Europe
Arms and artillery
Fuel
Supplies to rebuild bombed areas


Coal Use in World War I
Coal was in HIGH demand during these years
1918 saw the most coal removed from PA
330,000 miners removed 277 million tons of coal

"It is almost inconceivable that the USA and
the allies could have prevailed in either world
war were it not for the dominant contribution
of the Pennsylvania coal mining industries."
Historic Summary of Coal Production in
Pennsylvania (Foreman, 2009)

Posters like this one show that miners were seen as supporting
the war. Photo provided by Autentic History
www.authentichistory.com/1914-1920/2-homefront/2-
posters/index.html
Cultural Impacts of World War I
Young men left to fight the war, which changed the
age of coal miners
Most miners were older or very young
Despite the acceptance of women in other industries,
in many mines women were not permitted
This highlighted the Womens Rights movement

After the War
Directly after the War coal was used to make
iron and steel for rebuilding
As Europe rebuilt the use of US coal decreased
Coal production started to slow
New technologies also made coal mining more
efficient and fewer miners were needed
By 1930 the Great Depression had claimed
many jobs and coal demand was low
Mining companies either cut back drastically or
went bankrupt.


The jobless stand in line for free food hand outs. Photo Provided
by Centre County History. libcom.org/history/1930-1939-
unemployed-workers-movement
Towns like this one were left in shambles and needed rebuilt after WWI. Photo provided by BBC
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11698287
Cultural Impacts in Coal Region
When a coal company went bankrupt the town
that was supported was left with no industry
With the loss of jobs many immigrants
relocated
Many had no money to move so they were forced
to stay in dying towns
Mining was very limited during the
Depression
A significant amount of coal was mined by men to
their heat homes

World War II
PA Coals Use in the fight
World War II
World War II took place from 1939-1945
US became involved in 1941 after the bombing of
Pearl Harbor
Truly a World War, fighting took place across
the globe
New technology allowed for more advanced
fighting, yet coal was still the dominate fuel to
be used for the fight
World War II and Coal
Coal mining again increased as
demand for arms and fuel
increased
Many coal mines that had been
shut down were reopened
Coal mined in PA saw a second
surge
209 Million tons were mined in
PA during 1944
Posters like this encouraged mining to support the war efforts.
Photo provided by Lattimer Massacre Project
lattimermassacre.wordpress.com/
Cultural and Economic Impacts
World War II helped to pull the country out of the
Great Depression
After the war a decrease in mining occurred again.
The advent of cheaper refining processes and more
readily available oil decrease the need for coal
By 1961 coal production in PA slumped to 80 million
tons, the lowest it had been since 1888

Coal Production
1977
1944
1932
1918
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
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Year
Mining Practices
How Mining practices changed with time
Coal Formations
Coal
Rock
(Generally
Shale)
Called
Overburden
Drift Mining
Drift Mining 1760-
Early form of mining allowed coal to be removed
without large equipment
Mine was located at the same level as the coal seam
The side of a hill or mountain was cut vertically to
reveal coal
Miners could remove coal with out removing all of the
overburden
Mines were unstable and inefficient

Deep mining
Diagram showing how coal is formed in layers and the rock in
between
Deep Mining
Replaced drift mining but required more equipment
Miners dug down to the coal and removed it using
underground rail systems
Often times mined in what was termed Room and
Pillar
Coal removed from large rooms with thick pillars
supporting the roof
Often times when done with the mining workers removed
the pillars to access the coal
Lead to many collapses
Deep Mining
Early Deep mining required explosives to blast coal
out
Labor intensive requires drilling, cutting, blasting, and
loading
Later technology allowed for continuous mining
Machines which cut coal using a wheel
Combines all the above steps into one
Still leaves pillars of coal
It was not till much later that bolting or
strengthening the roof was employed
Deep Mining
Longwall mining was later developed which
allowed even more coal to be removed with less
work
This machine removes all the coal from a large area
As the machine moves through the mine the roof is
allowed to collapse behind it
This can lead to significant surface disturbance
Room and Pillar Mining
Surface Mining
Diagram showing how coal is formed in layers and the rock in
between
Surface Mining
Removes the overburden from above the coal
allowing access to the coal
First surface mines were not efficient
As technology evolved it became very effective at
removing large portions of coal without as much
labor
Safer for miners
To be efficient requires large machinery
Sometimes called Strip Mining
Mining practices overview
Drift mining (1700s-1850s) Removes 10-25% of
available coal
Deep Mining (1830-present day) Removes 30-50%
of available coal
Longwall (1950s- present day) removes 85% of
coal of available coal
Large scale commercial Surface Mining (1930s-
present day) removes +85% of available coal
Effects of Coal Mining
Coal mining was not well regulated until 1977
Mines were often left open and surface mines
were not filled in
Rock and unusable coal was left piled near the
mine
Called Gob piles (Garbage of Bituminous), Refuse
Piles, Boney Piles, or Culm Banks
Water contamination from the exposed mines
and refuse polluted nearby streams and rivers

Regulation of Coal Mining
In 1977 the Surface Mining Control and
Reclamation Act (SMACRA) was passed
This federal law regulated coal mining and
decreased its environmental impact
Coal companies are now required to undergo
extensive permitting
Clean-up plans must be made prior to mining occurring
Companies pay large bonds to the state to ensure they
will follow through with clean up


SMACRA
SMACRA has many regulatory roles
Formed the Office of Surface Mining- Enforces the
regulations set forth in the act
Established a fund to clean up previously abandoned
mine sites
Aims to have minimal environmental impacts due to coal
mining

Current Mining
For the rest of these lessons mining prior to 1977
will be referred to as historic coal mining
Current coal mining will not be discussed in future
lessons
All pollution discussed is a lingering result of historic
mining practices