Bay City

The coal mines of the Saginaw Valley

driver boy by j3net
driver boy by j3net

What lies beneath: A look at Saginaw’s coal mining past from yesterday’s Saginaw News says that the new “Mining for Prosperity: Coal in the Saginaw Valley” exhibit at the Castle Museum identifies 29 coal mines in Saginaw County and notes that In the early part of the 20th century, more than 1,000 people made their living working in Saginaw’s coal mines.

An excellent article on The Coal Fields of Bay County explains that:

The first discovery of coal in the valley was made simultaneously with the discovery of salt. Through the influence of the late Dr. George A. Lathrop, the East Saginaw Salt Manufacturing Company was organized in 1859, and the first well was completed in May 1860. While the work was in progress Dr. Lathrop, who was a geologist, made a drawing giving an analysis of the mineral deposits through which the drill passed. This map shows that coal was struck in two places at a depth of over two hundred feet. The doctor then made the remark that the time was coming when coal would be drilled for all over the valley…

(Saginaw Mine director) Mr. Chappell said recently: “I have drilled a great deal and can safely say that Saginaw Valley coal is far superior to any coal in Michigan. It is a free coal that burns up to a light ash without leaving clinkers, and is a coal of almost complete combustion, throwing out but very little soot, making it a first-class domestic soft coal. For steam purposes it compares very favorably with the Ohio product, more especially that from the Hocking Valley. There is a large area of the Saginaw Valley under laid with this coal; just how much will not be determined until the territory is drilled up, but enough has been shown already to make it a splendid inducement for manufacturers to locate here on account of this advantage.”

Read on for information about many of the mines in the region. The Saginaw News notes that the Federal Government is pretty concerned about many of the old mine shafts.

About the photo: Janet writes: This young miner is carrying the braided whip he uses to drive his mule. I bought this card on ebay where it was described as coming from a collection of cards from St. Louis, Michigan. Real photo card, divided back, unused. AZO stamp box dates it to between 1904 and 1918.

Photo Friday: Bay City Fireworks by MD2!

On Michigan in Pictures, we featured Michigan fireworks, a great place to learn about Fourth of July and other firework displays.

MD2! has sets including My Favorites and Michigan (slideshow).

Check out his Flickriver and have a fantastic Fourth!!

Check it out big and on black!

When Ice Attacks: Saginaw Bay homes damaged

Weird Wednesday already? Nope. Huge piles of ice were pushed by NE winds into homes along Linwood Beach (just north of Bay City), forcing evacuations and causing damage. Linwood Beach residents return to find ice piled around, inside and atop their homes from the Bay City Times begins:

“I was making a grocery list in the kitchen and the next thing you know, we had this,” said Angie Hughes, nodding at the ice resting inside her kitchen.

“Once we saw the first two piles of ice coming over the seawall, we just ran,” Steve Hughes said Monday, returning to assess the damage. “I just remember hearing the kitchen window explode and the kitchen table getting thrown back.

“It was just incredible to see. It’s got to be about 50 tons of ice that came up here in less than a few minutes.”

It has some great photos from this latest ice incursion from Saginaw Bay and also from a similar incident in 1946 when Lake Huron ice devastated homes along the bay.

Winds of Change?

One thing I can tell you is you got to be free by sgs_1019
One thing I can tell you is you
got to be free by sgs_1019

A new report titled Michigan’s Offshore Wind Potential from the Land Policy Institute at Michigan State University says that Michigan has the potential to become a big player in offshore wind energy:

The preliminary analysis finds that Michigan’s portion of the Great Lakes has the capacity to produce 321,936 Megawatts of electricity from wind energy, a portion of which could be developed once depth, technology, view and environmental concerns are considered. Michigan’s onshore wind potential was previously estimated at approximately 16,500 megawatts. The information provided by the new LPI report shows much more substantial opportunities for offshore wind energy.

“This result has the potential to elevate Michigan’s wind energy profile nationally and internationally because the resource available is significant,” said Dr Soji Adelaja, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor and director of the Land Policy Institute. “Michigan is one of few states with the opportunity to generate wind power from its offshore areas.”

By way of comparison, a brand-new coal plant (such as the one proposed for Midland) would produce somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 megawatts and a nuclear plant being considered for Detroit area would produce 1500 megawatts.

Speaking of coal plants, Jim Dulzo of the Michigan Land Use Institute notes in Wind Power Is Officialy Cheaper that according to none other than the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the price of new coal-fired power is now higher than the price of wind power due to the increasing costs to extract and transport coal plus the unknown cost of coming CO2 regulations. Here’s a link to the FERC’s presentation (PDF) and here’s part of what Jim says about the implications:

FERC makes the same argument-and similar cost projections-that Tom Sanzillo, an investment banking and utility regulation veteran, made for electricity generated by Wolverine Power Cooperative’s proposed “Clean Energy Venture.” Mr. Sanzillo concluded that building two 300 MW coal- and petroleum coke-burning power plants next to Rogers City was a very risky idea that would more than double local electric rates.

When will Michigan’s political leaders get this? Governor Granholm refuses to talk about the eight new coal plants proposed for Michigan-other than claiming there’s nothing she can do. Lansing lawmakers water down or hamstring the renewable energy and energy efficiency proposals the governor touts, proposals that would create lots of jobs and save us some money.

And the same crowd, Ms. Granholm included, endorses protecting DTE Energy and Consumers Energy from customer competition, guaranteeing that innovative green-energy companies head for Ohio, Minnesota, or other Midwest states that already have smart energy policies.

There’s a bunch more to read there, and it left me wondering – as the October wind howls outside – exactly what would be driving Michigan to invest in plants that will be with us for 50+ years and need to be fed by imported coal and uranium when we’ve got this wind thing going on.

What do you think?