History of Ohio Coal Mining
Coal mining in Ohio began around 1800, with reported production amounting to 100 tons of coal mined from Jefferson County. Since 1800, over 3 billion tons of coal have been mined in Ohio. Ohio’s coal production has experienced a history of great fluctuation. During the first half of the 19th century, coal production never exceeded one million tons annually. Coal was cut and loaded entirely by hand and transported to local markets by means of wagons, carts, and flatboats. As Ohio transformed into an industrial state in the late 1800s, it became one of the largest coal-producing and coal-consuming states in the nation. During World War I, Ohio’s coal industry realized production levels that would not be seen again until the 1960s. In 1918, Ohio’s coal work force swelled to its greatest level of more than 50,000 individuals.
Today, Ohio’s coal industry employs up to 3,000 individuals. This decline is due in part to decreased production and technological advances. However, these advances have allowed productivity rates to soar, reaching an astonishing average of about 6 tons per miner per hour, or 48 tons in a single 8-hour day.
During the interwar period coal production sagged, but quickly regained momentum following World War II. This time period saw the advent of large, efficient excavating equipment, new drilling techniques, and newly developed explosives making earthmoving operations possible. Thus, surface mining operations became an economic alternative to underground mining. Surface mining involves the excavation of all the rock and soil above the desired coal seam, exposing it at the surface. With the rise of surface mining, coal production steadily increased until 1970. Since this time, production has decreased. This decline is due in part to increased transportation costs, but primarily to the significant impact of the Federal Clean Air Act, which placed stringent controls on emissions, particularly SO2 emissions, from coal-fired power plants.
Ohio Coal Facts
- Ohio ranks 4th nationally in coal consumption, trailing only Texas, Indiana, and Illinois
- Ohio ranks 4th nationally in industrial energy consumption
- Ohio ranks 7th nationally in coal reserves
- Ohio ranks 13th nationally in coal production
- Approximately 90 percent of Ohio’s electricity is generated by coal, compared to 50 percent nationwide and 40 percent worldwide
- Ohio is home to 26 major coal-based electricity generating plants
- In 1980, the average miner produced 1.93 tons per hour – today, the number has risen to 7.10 tons per hour, largely through technological advancements
- Coal is currently mined in 16 Ohio counties and has been mined in 32 total counties since mining began in the early 19th century
- 57 percent of mined Ohio coal is transported by trains, with the balance being trucked and barged
- U.S. Energy Information Agency
- Ohio Air Quality Development Authority
- Ohio Coal Development Office
- “Report on Ohio Mineral Industries,” Division of Geological Survey, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
- Ohio Coal Association
- World Coal Institute
- Peabody Energy
- 26.3 million tons mined in Ohio in 2012
- Westmoreland mined 24% of this coal
- 2918 employees in Ohio mining coal
- Coal’s direct value in Ohio was $1.2 Billion
- Wages totaled $219 million
- Five leading Ohio counties Belmont, Harrison, Perry, Tuscarawas, Jefferson Westmoreland is the largest surface mine coal operation in Ohio
* All statistics above based on 2012 statistics.