Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 45
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anthracite became an important factor in the
early industrial life of the United States.
Feeder lines from the mines to the canals
represented the next forward step in the trans-
portation of anthracite to markets. The lines
were developed as gravity "railways." Small,
loaded cars ran from the mines to the canal by
gravity on wooden rails covered with strap
iron. The empties were pulled back to the
mine by horses or mules. The first gravity line
started operating in 1827, was 9 miles long,
and connected mines to the Lehigh Canal at
Jim Thorpe (Mauch Chunk).
The founders of the anthracite industry early
recognized the advantages of rail transporta-
tion. The first operation of a steam locomotive
in this country was on a part of the gravity
railway from the mines near Carbondale to the
terminal of the Delaware and Hudson Canal at
Honesbridge, Pa. The famed "Stourbridge
Lion" locomotive first ran in 1829 on this road.
In a relatively short time thereafter all parts
of the mining region were connected with the
anthracite markets by steam railroads.
The first statistical record of the production
of anthracite is for 1807-20, when 12,000 short
tons was produced. Output increased rapidly
in the ensuing years until a peak of 100 million
tons was reached in 1917. Inroads made by
competitive fuels, especially heating oils, start-
ing in the 1920's, and natural gas, in the 1930's,
caused a consistent decline in production. By
1938 anthracite output had decreased to 46 mil-
lion tons. Under the impetus of World War
II, production increased and in 1944 totaled
about 64 million tons. However, owing to the
more vigorous competition from fuel oil and
natural gas after the close of the war, annual
production of anthracite declined rapidly to
slightly more than 21 million tons in 1958-
the lowest since 1871.
SIZE AND ORGANIZATION OF THE INDUSTRY
In 1958 about 21 million tons of anthracite
was produced from 1,180 underground mines,
189 strip mines, 130 culm and silt banks, and
21 dredge operations. All of the raw material
from the mines and banks was sized and
cleaned in 179 preparation plants. The dredge
operations size and clean their output as it is
recovered from the rivers.
Anthracite operations range from the small
independent underground mine, with two men
working, to the large integrated unit consisting
of mine, surface shops, and preparation plant
employing as many as 1,300 men. Similarly,
size of producing companies ranges from the
small independent mine to the large company
with a number of producing units and prepa-
ration plants. For example, 67 percent of the
total output in 1958 was produced by 16 com-
GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF INDUSTRY
The anthracite deposits in northeastern
Pennsylvania are in the counties of Carbon,
Columbia, Dauphin, Lackawanna, Lebanon,
Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Sulli-
van, Susquehanna, and Wayne. The coal-bear-
ing formations underlie a surface area of 484
square miles divided by geological conditions
into four fields, the Northern (176 square
miles), Eastern Middle (33 square miles),
Western Middle (94 square miles), and South-
ern (181 square miles). These fields have a
general northeast-southwest direction parallel-
ing the mountain ranges of the area. Mining
operations are widely scattered through all
four fields. A small isolated field of semian-
thracite, known as the Bernice Basin, lies a
short distance west of the Northern field, and
pertinent information on this basin is included
with the data on the Northern field.
By coal-trade usage, the area is separated
into three regions, the Wyoming (synonymous
with the Northern field), the Lehigh (all of
the Eastern Middle field and that portion of
the Southern field east of Tamaqua), and the
Schuylkill (all of the Western Middle field and
that part of the Southern field west of Tama-
qua). (See fig. 1.)
Of the total industry production in 1958, 36
percent was from the Northern field, 8 percent
from the Eastern Middle, 29 percent from the
Western Middle, and 27 percent from the
DEFINITION OF GRADES, SIZES, AND SPECI-
In the earlier days of anthracite mining only
the larger sizes were sold. Sizes such as
"Steamboat" (plus 6 inches), "Grate," and
"Lump" were common. The development of
improved boilers and grates permitted the use
of ever-smaller particles, and these large sizes
soon disappeared from the market. Today
little demand remains for the two largest sizes
currently produced, Broken and Egg.
Owing to its characteristics, the most efficient
combustion can be obtained only with anthra-
cite that has been properly cleaned and sized.
Despite indtrstry success in producing a high-
quality product in modern, multi-million dollar
preparation plants, large quantities of poorly
prepared coal were marketed during the depres-
sion years of the 1930's and the fuel-short
period of World War II. Consequently, to
protect consumers, the General Assembly of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed Act
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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/m1/53/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.