Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mining Coal in Appanoose County

I first found my wayward great great grandfather in Iowa in the 1900 federal census for Appanoose County, Iowa. He claimed he was divorced, had been in the U.S. since 1888 and was a naturalized citizen. I learned from the 1915 Iowa state census, he had been in Iowa 20 years. During the time he lived in Iowa, he lived in Mystic in the Walnut Creek valley area of the county, which Wikipedia describes as "one continuous mining camp." The Mystic coal seam was exposed on the surface and drifts were opened and abandoned so often the area looked like a honeycomb by the time James Muir arrived. It didn't surprise me to discover him near coal beds for he had been a miner all his life, like his father before him and his son after him.

Townships in Appanoose County. Mystic in is Walnut Township

From the History of Appanoose County, Iowa, published in 1878 by the Western Historical Publishing Company:

The first coal shaft ever sunk in Appanoose County, Iowa, was by B F Kindig, who found the coal bed about sixteen feet below the limestone rock which crops out in the vicinity. This was in 1863 or 1864; but coal had been known to exist in the county long before for it crops out in several places along Shoal Creek and its tributaries, and had been mined for several years for local uses.

At the mine of the Appanoose Coal Company, the coal is mined in rooms, which are 40 feet wide and are run back to a distance of 250 feet, when a room worked from the opposite direction is reached. A body of coal sixteen feet in width is left between each room and is termed a pillar. Each room is operated by two men, who mine the coal, load it on the cars and deliver it at the bottom of the shaft, where it is received and hoisted, together with the car, by steam power, to the top of the shaft, and then emptied into railway cars waiting to receive it. The coal, which is about four feet in thickness, lies 120 feet below the surface. The car-tracks on the bottom of the mine are made of light-weight T rails.

Diagram to explain room and pillar mining from Coal Mining by T C Cantrill, 1914

The price to miners at Watson Mine is now $0.03-1/2 a bushel, which is the price paid at most of the mines. It is stated that miners can dig from 55 to 80 bushels a day.

No comments:

Post a Comment