History of Coal Mining in Indiana (CO-09)
Coal has been mined in Indiana since the 1830's. Before 1850 it was used principally as fuel for steamboats on the Ohio River and locally for heating as blacksmith's coal. The construction of railroads in Indiana, which began in the 1850's, opened Indiana coalfields to urban and industrial users throughout Indiana and the Chicago region. The railroads themselves became major consumers of coal.

Before the 1920's almost all coal was mined underground. This production peaked at 29 million tons in 1918. Surface mining became important after the 1920's; today about 98 percent of Indiana coal comes from surface mines. A total of 900 million tons has been mined underground, and 700 million tons has been mined at the surface.

By the 1950's many markets for Indiana coal had disappeared, but these losses were compensated by the increased use of coal by electric utilities. In 1980 about 80 percent of Indiana coal production was used to generate electricity.

Our Hoosier State Beneath Us: Coal


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