History of Coal


Coal discovered in Virginia.
1748 First recorded U.S. coal production.
1750 April 13th - Dr. Thomas Walker was the first recorded person to discover and use coal in Kentucky.
1755 Lewis Evan's map showing coal in what is now the Greenup County and Boyd County area of Kentucky.
1758 First commercial U.S. coal shipment.
1792 Issac Shelby becomes the first Governor of Kentucky (1792-1796).
1820 First commercial mine, known as the "McLean drift bank" opened in Kentucky, near the Green River and Paradise in Muhlenberg County.
328 short tons mined and sold in Kentucky.
1830 2,000 tons of Kentucky production.
1837 10,000 tons of Kentucky production.
1843 100,000 tons of Kentucky production.
1850 150,000 tons of Kentucky production.
Lexington and Big Sandy Railroad proposed.
Kentucky Geological Survey established.
1860 Pre-Civil War Kentucky production record of 285,760 tons.
1861 Kentucky-born Abraham Lincoln becomes the 16th President of the United States (1861-65).
1866 Surface mining begins near Danville, Illinois.
1870 Post-Civil War Kentucky production decline to 150,582 tons.
St. Louis & Southern Railroad completed from Henderson to Earlington, Kentucky.
1872 First train off the Big Sandy Railroad.
1877 Coal mined with steam-powered shovel.
1879 One million tons of Kentucky production.
1880 Mechanical stokers introduced.
First coke ovens in West Kentucky.
Mine Ventilation Law.
First train from Williamson, West Virginia to Pike County, Kentucky.
Coal mining machines come into general use.
1890 N&W Railroad's first mine at Goody in Pike County.
Hopkins County in West Kentucky leading coal producer in the state for 18 straight years.
Miner Pay Law.
United Mine Workers of America formed.
Machines developed to undercut coalbeds.
5,000 kilowatt steam turbine generates electricity.
1900 Child Labor Law.
Edgewater Coal Company's first production in Pike County.
First train off the Lexington and Eastern Railroad.
Independent Geological Survey established.
1910 First train from the Cumberland Valley Railroad.
Fordson Coal Company's first production at Pond Creek.
Pike-Floyd Coal Company's first production at Betsy Layne.
1914 World War I increases demand for coal; Kentucky production 20.3 million tons.
Short-flame or "permissible" explosives developed.
Mine Safety Law.
1918 First pulverized coal firing in electric power plants.
1920 Federal Mineral Leasing Act.
42.1 million tons of Kentucky production.
1923 All-time high U.S. employment of 704,793 bituminous coal and lignite miners.
First dragline excavators built especially for surface mining.
1929 Stock market crashes beginning the Great Depression.
1932 Walking dragline excavators developed.
1936 47.7 million tons of Kentucky production.
1940 World War II - coal production in Kentucky rises to 72.4 million tons for the war effort.
Auger surface mining introduced.
1942 Republic Steel Company's first production - Road Creek, Kentucky.
Post-War Marshall Plan - production rose to 88.7 million tons in Kentucky.
Continuous underground mining systems developed.
Kentucky Water Contamination Legislation.
1947 Kentucky Coal Association founded.
1950 82.2 million tons of Kentucky production.
1956 Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act.
Railroads converting from coal to diesel fuel.
Roof bolting introduced in underground mines.
1960 Railroads began using unit coal trains.
First longwall mining with powered roof supports.
Kentucky Surface Mining Legislation.
1963 Kentucky coal production exceeded 100 million tons.
1966 National Historic Preservation Act.
C&O Railroad to John's Creek constructed - Pike County.
1969 Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.
1970 Federal Clean Air Act.
1972 Kentucky Coal Severance Tax established.
Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
Kentucky becomes the leading coal producing state.
1973 Endangered Species Act.
OPEC oil embargo: Coal production and prices rise.
1976 Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act.
1977 Federal Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act.
1980 Congress enacts the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP) Study, a 10 year research program, which invested $550 million for the study of "acid rain." Industries spend over $1 billion on Air Pollution Control Equipment during 1980.
1983 OPEC cuts oil prices for first time.
Martha Layne Collins becomes Kentucky's first woman Governor (1983-87).
U.S. Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Program established $2.5 billion in Federal matching funds committed to assist the private sector to develop and demonstrate improved clean coal technologies.
1988 Kentucky Supreme Court ruled the unmined minerals tax on coal is subject to the same state and local property tax rates as other real estate.
TVA 160-MW Atmospheric Fluidized Bed Combustion Unit on line.
Wyoming displaces Kentucky as the leading coal producing state.
1990 Federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
Kentucky record production - 179.4 million tons.
U.S. coal production exceeds 1 billion tons.
1992 U.S. Energy Policy Act of 1992.
1993 CEDAR, Inc. (Coal Education Development and Resources) formed in Pike County.
1994 Western Kentucky CEDAR, Inc. was formed in Webster and Union Counties.
1996 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues Order 888, addressing the issues of open access to encourage wholesale competition in the electric utility industry and FERC Order 889, requiring utilities to share information about available transmission capacity.
Kentucky Coal Education ( www.coaleducation.org ) was introduced to the Internet.
Workers' Comp Reform Laws are passed in Kentucky.
1997 The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to re-introduce elk into 14 East Kentucky counties on post-mined lands, citing mountain-top removal areas and old mine benches as good elk habitat.  This will be the only large free-ranging elk herd in the Eastern United States.
Kentucky Coal Association celebrates 50 years of service to the mining industry.
1998 Mountaintop mining comes under attack.
Federal synthetic fuel tax credit for use of coal fines begins.
2001 Natural gas prices increase over 50% in one year.
Electricity shortages result in rolling blackouts in California.
2004 Governor Fletcher unveils Kentucky's first comprehensive energy strategy, "Kentucky's Energy:  Opportunities for Our Future."
2005 East Kentucky Power Cooperative's Gilbert coal-fueled fluidized-bed power plant begins operation, the first coal-fired plant in over 15 years.
Energy Policy Act of 2005 signed by President Bush; includes major Clean Coal Technology programs.
2006 Kentucky Energy Security National Leadership Act (HB 299) enacted; Act calls for strategy for producing liquid and gaseous fuels from Kentucky coal.
Kentucky Coal Academy founded to provide training for coal miners that reflect the technological advancements in the mining industry.
2007 No underground coal mining fatalities in Kentucky since records began in 1890.
House Bill 1, providing incentives for development in Kentucky of industries for producing transportation fuels and synthetic natural gas by gasification of coal enacted.
U.S. Air Force flies B-52 bomber and C-17 transport aircraft on a 50-50 blend of conventional jet fuel and jet fuel produced by the Fischer-Tropsch process that converts gasified coal into liquid fuels and chemicals.

Sources:  Energy Information Administration, (www.eia.doe.gov), Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals, Annual Reports, and Willard Rouse Jillson, Coal Industry in Kentucky, 1922.