Transcribed from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar.

Coal.—Indications of coal in Kansas were first observed by Mr. Jessup, one of the geologists who accompanied Maj. S. H. Long on his expedition through Kansas in 1819-20. "Mr. Jessup noted the horizontal position of the strata of limestone and their prolific yield of fossils, and their connection with coal strata." In his report he concluded that the formations were of secondary age. This was when the main geologic divisions were known as primary, secondary, tertiary and alluvial. A map accompanies the report and a line on it through what are now the counties of Pottawatomie and Waubaunsee is designated as the "western limit of the limestone and coal strata connected with the Ozark mountains."

Geological observations were made by different interested persons up to the time Kansas was created a territory, and as early as 1857 the territorial legislature granted incorporation papers to mining companies. One of these was the Prairie City Coal Mining company which was organized "for the purpose of exploring for coal within the space of 5 miles north and south, and the space of 15 miles east and west from the town of Prairie City, in the county of Shawnee, in the territory of Kansas, and for mining and vending the same." Another company incorporated by the legislature was the Newcastle Coal and General Mining company which organized "for the purpose of exploring for coal and other minerals in Doniphan and Brown counties, and for mining and vending the same."

In 1858 Prof. Swallow and Maj. F. Hawn published an article entitled, "The Rocks of Kansas." The desire of Kansas people to know something of the mineral resources of the state influenced the legislature of 1864 to provide for a geological and mineralogical survey of Kansas. The investigations of the state geologists determined that the coal measures of Kansas constitute a heavy mass of rocks, almost 3,000 feet in thickness, composed of alternating beds of limestones, sandstones and shales. (See Geology.) The coals occur in the various shale beds and are found at any position from the surface of the ground to the depth of 2,000 feet. The shales are classified as follows: Cherokee, Pleasanton, Thayer, Lawrence and Osage shales.

The coal measures of Kansas are situated in the eastern part of the state and cover about one-fourth of the entire area, or about 20,000 square miles. The western parts of this area are practically barren, leaving about 15,000 square miles of productive area, and only a small portion if this is worked. The mines that are worked the most extensively are located in Crawford and Cherokee counties in the southeastern part of the state in the vicinity of Mineral, Weir City, Fleming, Pittsburg, Frontenac and Arcadia. More than two-thirds of all the coal mined in the state comes from this field. A little to the northwest of this area are mines at Pleasanton, Fort Scott, Mound City and Thayer. Beyond these limits there is another belt of country with mines extending northeast and southwest reaching from near Burlington by way of Ransomville, Pomona and Lawrence to Leavenworth and Atchison. Within this area coal has been found in the following counties: Atchison, Bourbon, Brown, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Douglas, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Jackson, Jefferson, Labette, Leavenworth, Linn, Lyon, Montgomery, Neosho, Osage, Shawnee, Wabaunsee and Wilson. Passing westward to the north-central part of the state it is found that here in the Dakota formations considerable Cretaceous coal exists, which is now being mined in a number of counties and serves a good purpose in the way of supplying the local trade. Six counties in this vicinity have produced coal, viz: Cloud, Ellsworth, Lincoln, Mitchell, Republic and Russell. The coal seems quite uniform in quantity and quality throughout the whole district.

When the war of the rebellion closed, thousands of young men and their families poured into Kansas especially into the southeastern portion. In 1866-7 Cherokee and Crawford counties received a large number of these settlers who chose homes close to the streams. These early settlers began mining coal in the fall of 1866. Their attention was given entirely to the surface coal that could be plowed up. One vein of coal about 12 inches thick was along Brush creek in Cherokee county. The surface covering was very thin so with a plow and team it was quite easy to uncover the vein and dig out whatever was needed. This supplied the local demand and also furnished some for the adjoining territory in Missouri, to which market it was conveyed by wagon. That the full significance of this surface coal was not at that time understood by the people is shown by the fact that the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad company, which owned all the good coal lands in Cherokee and Crawford counties, sold nearly all of the same for agricultural purposes, without reserving the mineral rights, never suspecting the vast areas of coal beneath the surface of the land.

The heaviest beds in Cherokee county are operated in the environs of Weir City. Twenty-eight mines were located in this county in 1895. Pittsburg is the coal center of Crawford, the largest producing county of the state. The statistics of 1895 showed 53 mines in operation. Another county which ranked high in coal production is Osage. Coal was first discovered in Osage county, in 1869 by John F. Dodds who began mining about 2 miles east of Carbondale. It was found on the top of a prominent hill where a well was being dug. "The coal outcrops along the crests of the hills forming a long line from Carbon Hill southwest beyond Osage City." Mining commenced at Osage City in 1869, at Scranton in 1874, and at Burlingame in 1878. In 1880 the Santa Fe Railway company bought some property, and a year or two later it made additional purchases until it owned 20,000 acres. The Santa Fe mines in Osage county supplied the whole Santa Fe system with coal for all points east of Colorado from their date of their purchase in 1880 until the mines were opened in Crawford county.

The mines in Leavenworth county were among the first developed. In 1859 after much persistent effort and close examination of the territory Maj. F. Hawn organized the Leavenworth Coal Mining company. in 1860 the company leased 20 acres of land from the government and commenced prospecting. The Civil war, the shortage of funds and lack of confidence led the company to abandon the enterprise and to transfer all its rights to Maj. Hawn. Mr. Hawn continued his prospecting as means would permit and in 1865 found a two-foot vein of coal. The city of Leavenworth granted him the privilege of mining under streets and alleys. A new company was organized, permission to mine under the military reservation was obtained from the government, and in 1868 Congress sold to the coal company the 20 acres that had been leased. In 1869 Maj. Hawn transferred back to the Leavenworth Coal Mining company all his rights in the mines and lands. In 1870 the shaft reached a bed of coal at 713 feet. For two years the mine was operated at a loss. It had cost $200,000, the stock represented $300,000 face value, but was worth only 15 cents on the dollar in the market. In 1872 Lucien Scott purchased a large block of the mining stock and the company employed as superintendent J. F. Carr, a practical mining engineer of wide experience. The mine was enlarged, retimbered, the ventilation improved, its capacity increased and a new shaft was sunk. In 1885 cable roads supplanted the mules commonly used in coal mines.

In 1879 the legislature authorized the officers of the state penitentiary to sink a shaft at Lansing and appropriated $25,000 for that purpose. On Nov. 20, 1879, under the direction of Oscar F. Lamm, the shaft was begun, and on Jan. 15, 1881, coal was reached at 713 feet. Coal has been mined at Lansing almost continously[sic] since that time. In 1885 the Riverside Coal company was organized in Leavenworth. The city voted $10,000 in bonds to aid the company. The shaft was begun on Jan. 17, 1886, and coal reached on Sept. 17 of the same year.

In the other counties mining has been done upon a less extensive scale, but has become an important industry. Three varieties of coal are found in the state, to wit: bituminous, semi-anthracite, and the lignite of the Cretaceous and Tertiary deposits of central and western Kansas. The bituminous coal deposits of the lower coal measures yield the great bulk of coal placed upon the market.

There are three systems of mining usually employed in the coal fields of the state—the long wall system, the room and pillar system, and the strip pit system. The room and pillar system is employed for all underground mining in Cherokee and Crawford counties. The long wall system is used elsewhere. The system is chosen with reference to the locality and the adaptability to existing conditions. The long wall system is employed extensively in Leavenworth and Osage counties. It is so named because the face of the coal, i. e. that part that is exposed to view in the mines by the mining operations, is in the form of a long wall, producing an approximately circular or elliptical figure around the shaft as a center. The advantage of the long wall system is the ease with which the waste material obtained in mining the coal is disposed of, it being employed in sustaining the roof of the mine. The room and pillar system of mining is employed in those localities where the coal strata are comparatively thick, ranging from 3 feet upward. There are two methods generally employed in this system, the double entry and the single entry. The double entry is considered the best and is used the most extensively. The strip pit method is used only where the coal is quite close to the surface. In the southeastern portion of the state near the outcrop of the main coal strata where the coal is just covered by shale or sandstone, it can be "stripped" at very little expense. The average paying depth of stripping is about 10 feet, though in extreme cases as much as 20 feet or 22 feet have been removed.

The improvement of coal mining machinery has kept pace with machinery for different kinds of manufacturing plants, and for other lines of work. From the crude exhuming with spade and pick in the early times the most improved and economic implements have been developed, and are now used. There are two classes of mining machinery, namely, pit machinery and top machinery. Under pit machinery may he considered: (1) mining machinery proper; (2) drilling machinery; (3) machinery for transferring coal from the face of the coal to the foot of the shaft; (4) the system of signaling employed between the "top" and the "pit." Top machinery consists of (1) hoisting apparatus, including self-dump, scales and other mechanisms for weighing; (2) coal sorting machinery; (3) pumping machinery; (4) ventilating machinery.

The development of underground resources has necessitated a compiling of laws to meet the problems arising from new conditions. By the statutes of 1903 the term mining was held to mean "the prospecting for and obtaining of all metallic and mineral substances, and in addition thereto coal, clay, stone, petroleum and natural gas, and any and all other valuable products formed or existing beneath the earth's surface". The laws covering the subject of mining are quite extensive and complete, having been formed to meet the ever increasing demands for government jurisdition[sic] in mining industries. The laws covering the management of coal mines regulate the surveying of mines, the protection of persons owning coal lands, which includes the power and proceeding of injunction; airways, stagnant water, obstructions, ventilation, etc., making it unlawful for the owner or operator of any coal mine "to employ any person at work within said coal mine, or to permit any person to be in said coal mine for the purpose of working therein, unless they are in communication with at least two openings, separated by natural strata of not less than 80 feet in breadth if the mine be worked by shaft or slope, and if worked by drift not less than 50 feet, provided, however, that such coal mine shall not exceed 100 feet in depth from the surface to the coal." In case the coal mine does exceed 100 feet provision is made for its ventilation. Further the law outlines the duties of the mine boss, employees, and operators; commands the use of explosives, the regulation of scales, organization of miners into societies, and the protection of life and miners.

For the purpose of having the laws obeyed a state coal-mine inspector is appointed by the governor. The legislature of 1905 passed an act to provide for the health and safety of persons employed in and about coal mines, by compelling owners, agents and operators of coal mines to construct said mines upon more sanitary principles than they had previously been constructed. By the statutes of 1883, "no person under the age of twelve years shall be allowed to work in any coal mine nor any minor between the ages of twelve and sixteen years unless he can read and write and furnish a certificate from a school teacher, which shall be kept on file, showing that he has attended school at least three months during the year; and in all cases of minors applying for work, the agent of such coal mine shall see that the provisions of this section are not violated; and upon conviction of a willful violation of this section of this act, the agent of such coal mine shall be fined in any sum not to exceed fifty dollars." The laws of 1898, amended in 1901, provide for a state association of miners, with power to elect a secretary of mining industries, who shall succeed to the powers and duties of the state mine inspector.

The annual output of coal from Kansas mines has increased from 50,000 tons in 1880 to 5,985,000 in 1900. The output previous to 1880 was 300,000 tons annually. As a byproduct of the coal industry has come the making of coke. In Cherokee and Crawford counties, where blasting is done in coal mining, a large amount of slack coal is produced. This is used for making coke to supply the zinc smelters.

Pages 376-380 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.