Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 43
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By Forrest T. Moyer' and James A. Vaughan2
NTHRACITE, because of its smokeless, noncaking and long-burning char-
acteristics, was for generations the predominant household fuel in the New
England and Middle Atlantic States. The early industrial development
of the United States depended heavily upon anthracite. It was used exten-
sively in iron and steel metallurgy, for steam generation, and other industrial
purposes, including the manufacture of carbureted water gas. Today supplies
of anthracite fill a significant part of the energy requirements of the north-
eastern section of the Nation.
Anthracite is a naturally occurring black car.
bonaceous material derived originally from
vegetation deposited in swamps. It is hard,
compact, and shiny and has a generally con-
choidal fracture. Anthracite ignites with some
difficulty and burns with a blue, smokeless flame.
About 95 percent of the domestic reserve of
anthracite is in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Other reserves are found in comparatively
small deposits in Arkansas, Colorado, New
Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washing-
ton. Statistical and economic data on anthra-
cite relate only to that from Pennsylvania. In-
formation on anthracite from other States is
included in the chapter on Bituminous Coal and
The anthracite region of Pennsylvania, lo-
cated as it is in a highly industrialized section
of the country, comprises one of the Nation's
important natural fuel resources. Throughout
its long history the anthracite industry has
made important contributions to the national
economy. Over 5 billion short tons of coal has
been mined and marketed from this relatively
small area in Pennsylvania. (See fig. 1.) The
remaining reserve is estimated as adequate to
support production at the current rate of 20
million tons a year for more than 450 years.
Peak production of anthracite was reached in
1917, when 100 million tons was produced; how-
ever, due to inroads made by competitive fuels,
particularly fuel oil and natural gas, produc-
tion declined to 21 million tons in 1958. This
decline in output has created many serious eco-
nomic and social problems for the industry and
the people of the anthracite region. Because of
the magnitude and value of the anthracite re-
serve, it is important to the future economy of
the United States and the producing region
that a solution be found to these problems. The
Bureau of Mines, therefore, in cooperation with
the anthracite industry and others, is actively
conducting research to improve technology of
the mining, preparation, and utilization of an-
thracite and in ding new applications for its
use, particularly in metallurgical and indus-
trial processes. Through such efforts a more
diversified demand may be created with less de-
pendence upon the space-heating market. Such
diversity would stabilize production and enable
the industry to strengthen its overall economic
position. The success of this work would not
only improve the economy of the producing
region by revitalizing an industry that has been
the base of its economy for decades but would
enable the industry itself to remain strong
enough to expand production rapidly in times
of national emergency.
History shows that gunsmiths used coal from
the Pennsylvania anthracite region as early as
1755. In 1769 anthracite was successfully
burned in a blacksmith's forge and in 1808 it
was first used in an open grate without forced
544297 0-60- 4
draft in a house in Wilkes-Barre. At that time
firewood was both abundant and cheap, the
smelting of iron ore was still in a primitive
stage, and steam engines and railroads lay in
After the turn of the 19th century, fuelwood
and charcoal became expensive and scarce in
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United States. Bureau of Mines. Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition, report, 1960; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38790/m1/51/: accessed April 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.