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Coal for charcoal, page 3

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


This information was not only printed on Winslow's map but either observed or copied by Peter Jefferson, Joshua Fry, William Mayo and Brook that followed him. The maps of Jefferson and Brook of 1746, Jefferson and Fry of 1751 and 175 5, and the map of W. Scull 1770 (observes coal in Western Pennsylvania) are the earliest maps to indicate the locality of coal in the Appalachian Mountains. One cannot help speculating about Winslow's discovery of a "coal mine" on the north branch of the Potomac in 1736. Certainly if it were coal that was mined it was not by white men. And if and when mined, by whom and for what purpose?

Then we have the record of coal in the journals of the first explorers. John Peter Salley in 1742 discovered coal along a river in southern West Virginia, naming it "Coal River." The name has stuck. Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750 reports seeing it on his trip down the water-ways into Kentucky. In the following year Christopher Gist reports having observed it in Kentucky. It is strange that he makes no mention of coal in connection with his journeys into Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. One explanation is that, on good authority, Gist at that time was trying to find gold. Gist, who, according to the Horn papers, was a very close friend of the Horns and the Eckerlay (Eckerlin) Brothers is quoted at length. (Gist discovered coal on a branch of the Little Kanawha, Pleasant County, West Virginia, March 1, 1752. Page 784, Volume II, Horn Papers). In connection with Washington's Expedition of 1754, which resulted in the Battle of Fort Necessity, the second in command, Captain Adam Stephen, reported having seen coal along the banks of the Monongahela River near what is now Brownsville, Pennsylvania (Redstone). Benjamin Franklin when he invented his stove, 1744, did not know of coal existing in the colonies until the year of the Battle of Fort Necessity. Perhaps he learned of this through Captain Adam Stephen. Washington in his Journal of 1770 speaking of his visit to Captain William Crawford at what is now Connellsville, Pennsylvania, mentions coal having been discovered in that area. This is Washington's first reference of coal in his Journals. As early as 1761 at Fort Pitt coal was used for fuel. The first important coal shipments down river from Pittsburgh was in 1794.

Leaving the discoveries along the river banks how was coal discovered on the mountain-tops of the Appalachians? Again it was intimately associated with transportation. "When Forbes was pushing his expedition across the mountains in 1758 his road-makers uncovered coal on the Allegheny Mountains, probably near the eastern outcrop of the lower seams in Somerset County, Pennsylvania." Eavenson.

Thus the beginning of the history of bituminous coal, its discovery and use along the inland water-ways and the mountain-tops where the vast deposits have been exploited, was in connection with the French and Indian


Felix G. Robinson


Collection Location:
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland

Original Size:
22 x 15 cms

Maryland, History


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

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