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Coal for charcoal


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Coal for Charcoal

By
FELIX G. ROBINSON

The original conquests of America by Europeans were not for the purpose of importing colonies of people to cultivate the soil, but regiments of soldiers to subdue the natives so as to plunder the land of its treasure. At that date it was gold for which the Europeans lusted, and on which hung the balance of power. And for a brief time Spain, by reason of her new-world conquests, occupied a dominant position. A little later France and England thought of the new world in terms of furs. The first white men in Allegany County were not looking for gold, but for furs.

The gold hunters and fur traders were soon succeeded by a new type of European. They were neither conquistadors seeking for gold in the lost cities of Cibola nor for fur along the Appalachian waterways. They were the oppressed and persecuted, the disinherited. They came here for asylum, freedom and a new start on land possessed, cleared and cultivated by their own hands.

Wave after wave of human beings swept unto the eastern shores, over the tidewater country, into the hills, and finally over the mountains. These land-seekers, like the gold and fur hunters, were seeking a new wealth. And as so often happens all these early folk unknowingly were trailing over the mountains under which lay a buried treasure such as the world had not previously known. For coal not only gave up immense fortunes but changed, and is changing, the whole fabric of our material civilization. The history of the commercial and industrial development of bituminous coal had its first large scale promotion on the North American continent in Allegany County, Maryland. This is one reason why TABLELAND TRAILS is interested in the story of coal.

It is also interested in charcoal. This charred wood was used before coal in order to generate intense heat. Our forefathers brought with them a knowledge of the manufacture and use of charcoal but not of coal. This would indicate that the knowledge and use of coal was not prevalent in Europe. The first reference to the use of coal in England was in 8 52 A. D. At that time people were superstitious about it. They thought it poisoned the air and was injurious to their health. In 1306 King Edward I issued a proclamation declaring the use of coal an offense punishable by death. The records indicate that one man suffered such a fate. One must also observe that wood was so abundant and accessible here in America that the




ID:
gctt009

Creator:
Felix G. Robinson

Date:
1953

Collection Location:
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland

Original Size:
22 x 15 cms

Subject:
Maryland, History

Coverage:
Maryland

 
 
Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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