OF KNOXVILLE, OHIO RAILROADS OPENED UP EAST TENNESSEE: ONE OF NATION'S
By Dallas Bogan
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
This article was published in the LaFollette Press.
The source of this
article is taken from the "Knoxville Daily Tribune," dated
Sunday, May 6, 1883. The composition tells of the advent of the coal
scene in Campbell County. The article goes as such:
The completion of the Knoxville and Ohio
Railroad opens up one of the richest regions in the United States. From
Knoxville the roads cuts east across East Tennessee in a direction almost
due north, striking the Kentucky State Line at the end of its 66 miles.
From this point which is now called Jellico the distance to Louisville
over the Knoxville branch of the L. and N. is 200 miles. The whole line
traverses one of the finest mineral regions of the South, but we shall
speak only of that portion which lies in East Tennessee.
With a party of gentlemen interested in
the mining of coal, we visited a few days ago the coalmines which are
being opened near the State line. Within a distance of three miles,
three mines are now in operation. These are all in the spurs of the
Jellico mountain range, which lies west of the railroad. From a point
three of four miles south of the State line the railroad runs through
a level plain, which is bounded on the east by the rugged but unbroken
chain of Pine Mountain, while on the west it is notched by the numerous
spurs of Jellico Mountain. Of these spurs there are perhaps six or seven
between Newcomb and Jellico, all pointing in an easterly direction and
all abruptly ending within half a mile to a mile of the railroad. These
mountain spurs are filled with inexhaustible beds of coal easy of access.
Of course these coal beds extend through the Jellico Mountains, miles
and miles to the west, but are in that region as yet inaccessible. These
spurs, which are themselves mountains a thousand feet high, will demand
our attention A description of one will do for all, for the same coal
veins extend through them all.
The valley or plain through which the
railroad passes rests upon a bed of coal, from five feet to twenty feet
below the surface, according to the undulations of the valley. Near
the railroad at Newcomb the creek has exposed this bed of coal in several
places. The vein is nearly three feet thick, and underlies the whole
region. An examination of the mountain side will reveal no less than
six other seams of coal above each other varying from sixty to two hundred
feet apart in perpendicular distance, the upper vein being probably
six hundred feet above the one which underlies the bottom of the valley.
Some of these veins are only one or two feet thick while the best one
is 52 inches in thickness. This is the vein which all the companies
are working or preparing to work in their respective mountains. It is
the sixth vein counting from the bottom and is probably 500 feet above
the level of the valley. The upper vein which is a hundred feet above
the large one is said to be cannel coal. The vein which is over a hundred
feet below the thick vein is said to be the best coking coal yet discovered
in East Tennessee. This vein is something more than three feet in thickness
and is quite soft and brittle. A chunk of it weighing several pounds
can be easily crushed in the hands breaking into small glistening pieces
as large as a hickory nut or smaller. The coke made from this coal has
great strength is close in texture and has the metallic ring and lustre.
A careful analysis of this coke shows that it contains 92.6 percent
of fixed carbon, 3.7 percent of moisture, 2,7 of ash and 1 percent of
volatile matter while it contains less than three-fourths of one percent
Jellico Mountain Coal Company
This company was organized
nearly two years ago under the name of the "Jellico Mountain Coal,
Coke, Mining and Transportation Company," with a capital of $300,000.
The company is composed principally of capitalists from Lexington Kentucky.
Col. Samuel L. Woolridge is President, Thomas Mitchell, Secretary and
Treasurer; Bret R. Hutchcraft, General Contracting Agent and James W.
Fox, Superintendent and Engineer.
At the invitation of Mr. Hutchcraft we
visited the Jellico mines, leaving the railroad at Newcomb Station.
A railroad has been built from Newcomb up to the mines about a mile
distant. All the several? which was very light was finished grading
months ago, and the ties are all down and ready for the iron. At the
end of this road, which is a broad gauge, is the Tip house. Here the
coal is to be delivered from the team cars, screened, loaded into the
railroad cars and weighed. Here are two scales arranged so that two
cars can be filled at one time, one with fine coal and one with lump
The whole operation is controlled by one
person, stationed in the upper story of the Tip house. From the Tip
house there is a tram railroad about seven hundred yards long, the upper
end reaching within 500 feet of the mouth of the mines. This tramway
ascends a grade of 80 feet stopping at the foot of an incline. Here
is the engine house. From this point the tram cars loaded with coal
will descend by their own weight to the Tip house and will be brought
back empty propelled by the power of a stationary communicated by an
From the engine house an incline has been
built 453 feet long, up to the mines. It ascends a perpendicular height
of about 200 feet. The loaded tram cars will descend this incline, turn
at the engine house and pass on down to the Tip house. The weight of
the descending cars will, by means of a drum, pull the empty cars up
the incline. At the top of the incline is the blacksmith shop, toolhouse
and general store house for mining supplies.
On reaching the top of the incline we
found nearly all the available space around the mouth of the mines covered
with huge heaps of coal, which had been dug out of the mountain in driving
the entries and opening the mines. More than 5,000 tons of coal has
already been mined and is ready for shipment. Two entries have been
made into the 52-inch vein of coal on the north face of the mountain.
These entries are about 300 feet apart. One has been dug straight into
the mountain over 1,000 feet and the other to a distance of nearly 900
feet. The entrance is a tunnel into the mountain is an opening six feet
high and nearly as wide and of course follows the coal bed.
In company with the assistant superintendent,
Horace E. Fox, we went into the mines. We took lamps in our hands and
got into a tram car which was drawn into the mines by a mule. As we
proceeded into the heart of the mountain we were conscious of going
up a slight grade. In fact the dip of the coal seam is such that the
mines are perfectly drained without using any artificial means. About
600 feet from the mouth of the entrance is a cross entrance which connects
the two main entrances. Several cross and side entrances have been made
from the main shafts, some of them cutting several hundred feet into
the coal bed.
From the outside parallel with the main
entrances and about feet from them are airways. These are five feet
high and five feet wide extending the full length of the main shafts.
These are made for the purpose of ventilating the mines. There is only
a single force of mines working now, but the mines are ready for a double
force of two hundred hands as soon as the company can begin to ship
the coal. About sixty rooms have already been turned. This coal is very
easily mined. In the center of the vein is a mining seam. That is, there
is a streak of very soft coal several inches in thickness separating
the top and bottom layers of the coal bed. The miner with his pick digs
out this soft coal, after which a few strokes break off the harder coal
above and below in large chunks. In such coal as this miners can easily
make $2 to $3 a day.
Standard Coal and Coke Company
The mines of the Standard
Coal and Coke Company are situated nearly a mile south of the Jellico
mines and but little more than half a mile from Newcomb. This company
owns two mountains, including several thousand acres of coal lands.
The property could not be purchased now for $100,000 and a few years
it will be valued at several times that amount. The principal owner
of these mines is Major E.E.McCrosky, of Knoxville. Captain McClure,
a former East Tennessean, now of Cincinnati, and Joseph Chandler, of
Sevier County, are members of the company. The coal in these mountains
does not differ in structure, composition of the size of the veins from
that of the Jellico mines, but is more accessible, and can be mined
at somewhat less expense.
The railroad to one of the mines of the
Standard Company will be about half a mile long and the road to the
other will be less than a mile. The only expense of building these roads
will be for the iron and the ties. No grading will be necessary because
the approaches to the mines are almost perfectly level. From the mines
tram cars will bring the coal down an easy graded narrow gauge to the
chute where the coal will be screened, the railroad cars loaded and
the coal weighed. The empty tram cars will be taken to the mines by
a small locomotive engine. By this arrangement the objectionable features
of an incline are avoided, and the natural location of the mines renders
the loading of the coal less expensive. Hands have been at work for
several months driving the entries for the Standard Company, and large
quantities of coal have already been dug out. Two entries have been
driven in one of the mountains, and one in the other. The coal will
be in the market this summer. If necessary 400 miners could be put to
work in the Standard mines, but perhaps not more than half that number
will be employed this year.
The Standard Company has a large sawmill
near the mines to manufacture lumber to be used in the company's building
and for constructing houses for the miners. These lands are covered
with fine timber.
(Material for this article was submitted by personnel
from the Campbell County Historical Society