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.