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Former Mining Communities of the Cherokee-Crawford Coal Field of Southeastern Kansas

by William E. Powell

Summer 1972 (Vol. 38, No. 2), pages 187 to 199;
Transcribed by Marilyn Payne; composed in HTML by Tod Roberts;
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets refer to endnotes for this text.

Kansas Historical Quarterly, Summer 1972THE YEAR 1874 was most significant for coal mining in southeastern Kansas. It brought the construction and opening of the first underground shaft-mine in southeast Kansas near the present-day village of Scammon, in the north-central portion of Cherokee county. [1] The completion of this form of underground mine signaled the beginning of an important phase of coal mining in Cherokee county and adjacent Crawford county. In the following years, other shaft mines were opened in the coal-bearing areas of the two counties. Underground mining continued as the dominant method until 1931, when mechanized strip-mining surpassed it in output and supplanted it as the dominant mode of mining. [2]

Underground mining was instrumental in the historical development of the Cherokee-Crawford coal field by having a stimulating impact upon employment, demographic movements, the network of transportation, commerce, and forms of settlement within the coal field (Figure 1). This study will focus on the impact of past underground mining upon the rise, growth, and decline of the many agglomerated coal-mining communities.

Prior to the completion of the first coal shaft-mine in 1874, there were two forms of mining in the area: drift (adit) mining and strip-mining by animate power. [3] The small early drift or adit mines were sited along outcroppings of coal beds on the hillslopes and sides of ravines. Because of their burrowed-in appearances along the outcrop, the early day drifts were appropriately called "gopher hole" mines. [4]

In the early days, surface or strip mining was carried out by teams of guided mules and horses pulling scraps (slips) and plows over coal seams which reposed under a shallow overburden. The thin overburden was removed, and the exposed coal was removed by wagons for subsistence and commercial purposes. These two forms of early day mining were suitable for reaching the exposed or shallow-lying coal seams, but eventually the two methods proved to be ineffective for reaching the deeper lying coal. With an average thickness of three feet and also possessing geological continuity, the Weir-Pittsburg (Cherokee) coal, the thickest and the most important seam in the coal field, was mined by shaft mining down to the maximal depth of 285 feet. [5] The depth at which the Weir-Pittsburg seam was mined over much of the coal field was too great for early surface mining and drift (adit) mining.

Shaft mining, the overwhelmingly dominant method of underground mining in the coal field, permitted the commercial exploitation of the deeper-lying Weir-Pittsburg (Cherokee) seam by sinking vertical shafts downward to the seam and then extending tunnels into the coal seam. These tunnels were, in nearly every instance, extended generally horizontal to the above-ground surface. During the lengthy era of underground mining, there were 290 important or relatively important mines which exploited the Weir-Pittsburg (Cherokee) coal seam. [6] In addition, there were numerous small underground mines called "dinkies" which mined the Weir-Pittsburg seam and other seams. The "dinky" mines were often sporadically worked and lacked the permanence of the larger shaft mines. Many of the large shaft mines (Figures 2 and 3) had a degree of semipermanence about them and frequently stimulated the rise and growth of nearby agglomerated assemblages of houses, shacks, and other structures which served the needs of the operators and employees of the mines.

Before the actual formulation of this study, the writer became interested in the existence of the former mining settlements of the coal field. Various sources were utilized over several years of study to substantiate their existence. Frequent field reconnaissances were taken with former coal mine employees and other knowledgeable individuals in order to locate the sites of erstwhile mining communities and to study remaining expressions, if any. Written or printed records (e.g., maps, state mine reports, plats, newspaper articles, theses) were also relied upon to ascertain the existence and locations of former communities, since surface remains (e. g., buildings, foundations) at many sites are nonexistent.

Utilizing the aforementioned sources, the writer was able to confirm and to locate over 100 sites of former coal mining communities which clustered at or reasonably near shaft mines. The existence of many are fairly well known, and a number of the settlements survived to become rural and urban communities, which presently have no connections with mining except for their early beginnings. The writer endeavored to seek the locations of the mining settlements which were not well known within the coal field.

Several factors stimulated the rise of mining camps and communities in the coal field. The paramount factor was the urgent need for quick and ready housing to accommodate the large numbers of native- and foreign-born miners and their families. A second factor was the degree of permanence of the shaft; a large shaft mine, operating for several years, had frequently a camp established near it. A third factor must have been the lack of speedy and cheap transportation during the early days of underground mining; the poorly salaried miner usually wanted to live near his place of employment; the mining camp, located in close proximity to the underground mine, served this need. A final factor was that many coal companies fostered the creation of camps by building "company houses" and other structures, such as the "company store" and community hall. The major coal companies, usually owning the coal-bearing land and the structures of the camps, were better able to direct and control the operations of the mines if their employees were quartered in nearby camps. Company camps were much more numerous in the coal field than were noncompany camps.

An article in a 1926 issue of the Pittsburg Daily Headlight [7] described the causal relationship of the "opening" of a shaft mine and resultant mining camp in Crawford county: "The opening of mine No. 1 of the Cherokee-Pittsburg Coal Company was the principal cause of the establishment of the camp, which later became known as the city of Frontenac." Discussing the stimulation of coal mining upon the genesis and growth of the community of Mineral City the author of a Cherokee county history wrote: "The coal mining industry is the big thing of the place. The beginning of this is what gave rise to the city. It has fostered its growth, and it will continue as the chief business of the community." [8]

Besides being sited near shaft mines, the coal mining communities were located on or very near section roads. Oral communication with former coal field employees and other knowledgeable persons disclosed that generally the section roads preceded the camps. [9] Mining camps were frequently established along section roads or at crossroads. The physical expansion of some camps extended into the peripheries of two or more sections. The reason for this siting by the coal companies and by the other founders of camps was to provide easy access to mine and camp. Access to a mine and its camp, located in the middle of a section, was by a short road or roads, which connected with the straight section roads. Vestiges of some of these dirt roads can still be seen in the countryside, although mines and camps are gone.

The establishment and growth of the coal mining communities in the coal field began in the late 1870's and probably lasted until about 1920. The first camps were located in the southern portion of the coal field in the late 1870's and spread towards the northeast into Crawford county as the field was extended and developed. [10] The most active period for the establishment of the mining settlements was probably between 1890 and 1910. Although not as numerous as the underlying mines, the communities were disseminated from one end of the coal field to the other as were their associated features, the underground mines. Presently, there are no mining communities; the last few probably became defunct as mining settlements in the late 1930's or, at the very latest, in the early 1940's.

Representing an important part of the geographical fabric of the coal field, the mining communities were agglomerated settlements which always included houses and shacks and frequently but not always retail stores, "company stores," rooming houses, hotels, saloons, community halls, churches, blacksmitheries, schools, railway trackage, and even farms (Figures 4, 5, and 6). The smaller and more temporary camps naturally possessed fewer structures and services than were offered by larger camps.

Several of the camps were platted (Figures 7 and 8); maps and legal descriptions of them were examined in the county offices (e.g., register of deeds and county clerk). The plats of the two camps shown were similar to the plats of nonmining settlements in and outside the coal field. Streets of the platted camps and even the nonplatted camps were usually oriented to the basic directions of the compass (north-south and east-west). The streets and roads in most of the camps were essentially parallel to the section roads which frequently formed the most important streets in the mining communities. The blocks between the streets were divided into lots for residential and commercial uses. In the company camps, houses and other buildings were provided for or rented to employees of the coal companies. In the noncompany camps, houses were commonly owned or rented by miners.

There were two basic types of houses in the coal-mining settlements. One was more or less square (Figures 4 and 5) with a hipped-roof; the other was the elongated "crackerbox" (Figure 5). The square type was the larger of the two and was utilized, in most instances, by larger families or groups. Concerning the elongated ("crackerbox") house, Mary Wood-Simons stated: "Tenements and workingmen's cottages may house other workers in other localities, but the Kansas miner is housed in a 'shot-gun' house. For his shack is built like a box car and cut crosswise into three rooms." [11] Most of the houses in the coal field were probably company owned, but a sizeable number were individually owned. Both types were found in company and noncompany camps.

The two basic house types were further modified and enlarged by joining two or more of them commonly into T-shaped, L-shaped, or U-shaped structures. Such houses can be seen today on farms and in small agglomerated settlements which were once coal mining communities.

Geographical names of the mining communities originated from several sources. A number of the camps were named for the owner of the land which was leased or purchased by the coal companies. As examples, Capaldo, a former camp in Crawford county, was named for the original owners of the land. [12] Ringo, another camp in the same county, was named for the owners of the land on which shaft mines were sunk. [13] A number of camps were named for coal operators, superintendents, and coal companies. As examples, Fleming, a camp in Crawford county, was named for Ira Fleming, superintendent of a coal company. [14] Scammon (Scammonville) in Cherokee county, once an important mining community, was named for the Scammon brothers, who were early coal mine operators. Kirkwood and Croweburg, both in Crawford county, were named respectively for A. B. Kirkwood, a co-owner of the Wear Coal Company, and the Crowe Coal Company. [15]

Another camp was named for its geographical position; Midway, an early camp in eastern Crawford county, was originally ". . . named for being midway between Fort Scott and Baxter on the stage line," [16] A few mining communities were named for natural features or characteristics, such as Mulberry Grove (later called Mulberry), Lone Oak, Breezy Hill, and Mineral City.

Several camps were interestingly named after the numbers of the shaft mines of the major coal companies. The most important coal companies in the field were the Sheridan Coal Company, Western Coal & Mining Company, Cherokee-Pittsburg Coal & Mining Company, Central Coal & Coke Company, Mayer Coal Company, Clemens Coal Company, Kansas & Texas Coal Company, Crowe Coal Company, Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Company, Wear Coal Company, and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company. Each of the major coal companies owned and operated several mines, and each underground mine was frequently numbered consecutively. To illustrate, the Central Coal & Coke Company had mines numbering in the 40's and 50's; there were Nos. 42, 43, 45, 48, 49, 50, and 51. Camps were established by the coal company around these underground mines, and the camps assumed the appellations of the mines, such as 42 Camp, 49 Camp, 50 Camp, and 51 Camp. Fifty Camp is the only company camp of the Central Coal & Coke Company that survived and is now a small, rural hamlet, completely unassociated with coal mining. The Sheridan Coal Company had its Nos. 3, 4_, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14 underground mines after which camps near them were named. These Sheridan camps are nonexistent and have been for years. The reader is referred to Table 1 for other examples of numbered company camps.

Mining communities, wherever they appear in mining areas, frequently have interesting and humorous appellations. The Cherokee-Crawford coal field was no exception. The writer has come across such names as 4_ Camp, Dogtown (named for the abundant canines kept by the inhabitants), Little Italy, Red Onion, Red Camp (named for the red houses), Water Lilly, Gebo Camp, Pumpkin Center, Chicopee, Klondike, Blue Goose, Scabpatch (named for nonunion miners residing in the western portion of Scammon), Frogtown (named for a frog-infested pond near the small camp), and Buzzard's Roost Camp (Bell Camp).

Cherokee-Crawford coal field in 1923

FIGURE 1: CHEROKEE-CRAWFORD COAL FIELD IN 1923

The coal field near its peak of development. Small circles with numbers represent underground mines. Continuous, black lines are rail lines and spurs. Reproduced with permission from Kansas Coal, by C. M. Young and H. C. Allen.

Shaft mine No. 6 of Crowe Coal Company, 1904

 FIGURE 2

Shaft mine No. 6 of the Crowe Coal Company about 1904. The mine and its camp, No. 6 Camp, were located in northeastern Crawford county. Note the tipple, engine house to right, railroad cars and tracks, and tailing pile in the background. Mules pulled the coal cars in the underground tunnels. Photo courtesy of George Gust, Pittsburg.

Crowe Company No. 16 shaft mine, 1920's

FIGURE 3

The tipple, engine house, and tailing pile of former Crowe Company No. 16 shaft mine, active in the 1920's. Sixteen Camp was near the mine. Mine and camp have been defunct for many years, and there are now no surface remains of either. Photo courtesy of Mrs. L. C. Caldwell, Croweburg.

Croweburg Camp, eastern Crawford Co., ca. 1920

FIGURE 4

Croweburg Camp in eastern Crawford county about 1920. Squarish houses with "hipped" roofs were common in the company camp. The tailing pile and tipple of a Crowe company mine can be seen faintly in the far right portion of the picture. Today, the former camp is a rural hamlet, smaller than the mining community shown above. Photo courtesy of Charles Dugone, Croweburg.

Crackerbox houses in Croweburg Camp, 1910-1920

FIGURE 5

Part of Croweburg Camp as it existed between 1910 and 1920. "Crackerbox" houses are in the foreground and squarish houses appear in the background. The two buildings, on the hill, near the right, were school houses. Photo courtesy of Charles Dugone.

Shaft mine No. 13 of Western Coal Co., 1918-1919

 

FIGURE 6

This photograph taken about 1918-1919, shows a portion of shaft mine No. 13 of the Western Coal Company, and some of its camp in eastern Crawford county. The airshaft and washhouse can be seen in the lower right, and the top of the tailing pile is in view. A small farm with livestock can also be seen. The houses of miners and other buildings of camps in the coal field were sometimes adjacent to or near farms. The shaft mine is defunct; the camp survived and is now part of a small rural community. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Charles Pichler, Frontenac.

Plat of Capaldo Camp, 1912

FIGURE 7

A reproduction of the original plat of Capaldo Camp which was planned August 29, 1912, by the Cherokee and Pittsburg Coal and Mining Company as a company camp. The original plat was located in the northeastern corner of Sec. 1, T. 30 S., R. 24 E., in Crawford county. Two section roads served as important streets for the company camp. The camp was divided into average-sized blocks and lots (note widths in feet). Underground mines of different companies were located to the east, northwest, south, and northeast. With time, the camp grew into the edges of the adjacent sections. Capaldo is presently a small community. Plat courtesy of Crawford County Abstract Company, Girard.

Plat of Gross Camp, 1914

FIGURE 8

A copy of the original plat of Gross Camp which was platted and established December 12, 1914, in the northwestern quarter of Sec. 23, T. 28 S., R. 25 E., in northeastern Crawford county. Section roads served as important streets for the camp. The Frisco railroad, shown on the plat, had spurs to underground mines near Gross. The widths of lots and streets in feet can be seen. The camp was named for the owners of the original ground. Gross was a noncompany camp, and miners resided in the camp and worked in nearby mines of various coal companies. Plat courtesy of Crawford County Abstract Company.

The scattered mining communities (Table 1) not only quartered the thousands of native-born American and European-born individuals who were employed by the mining companies but also their families. The number of employees in underground mines of the Kansas portion of the coal field reached almost 10,000 during the early years of World War I. [17] The native-born working in the mines and residing in the camps were largely Caucasians, but sizeable numbers of native-born blacks were also employed, particularly in the late 1890's and early 1900's. [18] The most numerous European nationalities laboring in the underground mines were Italians, Austrians, Germans, Yugoslavs (largely Slovenians), British (English, Welsh, Scots), French, and Belgians. [19] Although there were several coal camps inhabited by one or two ethnic groups (Capaldo, No. 7 Mayor's Camp, Little Italy, Mackie, etc.), most were "melting pots" of native- and European-born persons. The mining communities ranged in size from fewer than 50 individuals to over 1,000 (e. g., Anna, Pittsburg, Frontenac, Mulberry, Scammon, Radley). However, the majority remained small and individually had, during their peaks, a maximum of a few hundred inhabitants.

It was stated earlier that the Weir-Pittsburg (Cherokee) seam was the chief one exploited by the major underground mines of the coal field. Shaft mines were not multileveled as they commonly were and are in the Appalachian coal province of Eastern United States. Once an underground area of the Weir-Pittsburg seam was mined out, the mines were closed and dismantled, and new mines opened elsewhere in the developing coal field.

The camps were commonly moved, wholesale or in part, after the dissolution of the underground mines around which the camps originally clustered. The houses, shacks, and other buildings, after being disassembled, were commonly moved to new camps on railroad flatcars or on huge, flat wagons pulled by mules and horses. Those buildings which were not moved were sold or left to fall into a state of disrepair.

TABLE 1 -- Former Coal Mining Communities of Crawford and Cherokee Counties

Name

Location

Status

 

Crawford County

 

Miller's Camp*

Section 3, T. 28 S., R. 25 E

Nonexistent

Dogtown

Section 10, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Red Camp (North)

Section 12, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Coalvale

Section 11, T. 24 S., R. 25 E.

Hamlet

Bell Camp (Buzzard's Roost Camp)*

Section 11, T. 24 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 6 Crowe Camp*

Section 14, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Gross.

Section 23, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Hamlet

Water Lilly*

Section 22, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 11 Sheridan Camp*

Section 15, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 12 Sheridan Camp*

Section 22, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Gebo Camp

Section 24, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Red Onion Camp*

Section 23, T. 28,9, R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 14 Sheridan Camp*

Section 28, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Chapman & Hazen Camp*

Section 27, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Scott's Camp*

Section 27, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Hamlet

No. 4-1/2 Sheridan Camp*

Section 27, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Chamber's Camp*

Section 26, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Red Camp (South)

Section 25, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 9 Sheridan Camp*

Section 36, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Barber Camp*

Section 35, T. 28 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Mulberry

Section 1, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Village

No. 10 Sheridan Camp*

Section 2, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Croweburg*Ý

Sections 33 & 34, To 28 S., R., 25 E. and Section 3, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Hamlet

No. 7 Spencer-Newlands Camp

Section 1, T. 29 S, R. 25 E

Nonexistent

No. 22 Western Camp*

Section 5, T. 29 S, R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Arma

Section 5, T. 29 S, R. 25 E.

Town

Pumpkin Center

Sections 8 & 9, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 50 Central Camp*

Sections 11 & 12, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 51 Central Camp*

Sections 11 & 14, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 7 Sheridan Camp*.

Section 9, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 6 Sheridan Camp*

Section 10, T . 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Breezy Hill*

Section 10, T . 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 3 Sheridan Camp*

Section 11, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 5 Sheridan Camp*

Section 12, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Ringo

Section 22, T. 29 S., R. 24 E.

Hamlet

No. 48 Central Camp*

Section 14, T. 29 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Edison*

Sections 13, 14, 23, & 24, T. 29 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Franklin*

Sections 17 & 18, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Fuller

Section 13, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Village

No. 45 Central Camp*

Section 23, T. 29 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Washer Camp*

Section 24, T. 29 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Cockerill

Sections 21 & 22, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Foxtown

Sections 14, 15, 22 & 23, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Hamlet

TABLE 1 -- Former Coal Mining Communities of Crawford and Cherokee Counties (Continued)

Name

Location

Status

Curranville*

Section 23, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Hamlet

Markam. Camp (Markum)*ý

Section 24, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Iowa Camp*

Section 24, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Burnett Camp

Section 22, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Jacksonville (Jacson)

Section 22, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Radley*

Section 27, T. 29 S., R. 24 E.

Hamlet

Dunkirk*

Section 25, T. 29 S., R. 24 E.

Hamlet

No. 11 Jackson & Walker Camp*

Section 29, T. 29 S., R. 25 E

Nonexistent

No. 17 Central Camp*

Sections 28 & 33, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Nelson*

Section 34, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 49 Central Camp*

Sections 27 & 28, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

No. 13 Western Camp*

Section 26, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

McCormack Camp*

Section 26, T. 29 S, R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

South Radley*

Section 35, T. 29 S., R. 24 E.

Hamlet

No. 11 Western Camp*

Section 34, T. 29 S, R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Yale*

Section 35, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Hamlet

State Line Camp

Section 36, T. 29 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Capaldo*

Section 1, T. 30 S, R. 24 E

Hamlet

Frontenac*

Sections 5, 8, & 9, T. 30 S., R. 25 E.

Town

Williams Camp (Williamstown)*

Section 3, T. 30 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent§

No. 31 Central Camp*

Section 2, T. 30 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Cornell*

Section 1, T. 30 S, R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Morgan (No. 8 Camp)*

Section 1, T. 30 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Litchfield*

Section 14, T. 30 S., R. 25 E.

Nonexistent

Midway*

Sections 11 & 12, T. 30 S, R. 25 E.

Hamlet

Lone Oak

Section 13, T. 30 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Pittsburg

Sections 19, 20, 29, 30, T. 30 S., R. 25 E.

City

Chicopee*

Sections 35 & 36, T. 30, R. 24 E. and Section 2, T. 31 S, R. 24 E.

Village

Little Italy*

Section 2, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Cambria*

Section 1, T. 31 S, R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Ashley (No. 15 Central Camp)*

Section 11, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Ellsworth-Klaner Camp*

Sections 11 & 12, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Klondike

Section 3, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Hamlet

Fleming*

Sections 4, 9, & 10, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Ham1et

No. 9 Hamilton Camp*

Section 31, T. 30 S., R. 24 E. and Section 6, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Kirkwood (Alston)*.

Section 6, T. 31 S., R. 25 E.

Hamlet

No. 54 Camp*

Section 12, T. 31 S, R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Schwab*

Section 16, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Bricker

Specific location unconfirmed

Nonexistent

No. 41 Central Camp*

Section 16, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

No. 10 Western Camp*

Section 17, T. 31. S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

 

Cherokee County

 

Daisy Hill (Leawalk)

Section 21, T. 31 K, R. 24 E.

Hamlet

Coal Valley

Section 21, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Hamlet

Weir

Section 34, T. 31 S., R. 24 E.

Village

No. 4 Mayer Camp*

Section 24, T. 31 S.) R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

No. 7 Mayer Camp*

Section 36, T. 31 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

Humble Camp

Section 30, T. 31 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

Stone City*

Sections 32 & 33, T. 31 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

West Mineral

Section 6, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Village

East Mineral

Sections 5 & 8, T. 32S., R. 23 E.

Hamlet

Corona (formerly Folsom)

Section 10, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Hamlet

Roseland

Section 11, T. 32 S. R. 23 E.

Hamlet

Blue Goose Camp*

Section 12, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

Scammon (Scammonville)

Section 7, T. 32 S., R. 24 E.

Village

Stilson (Coalfield)

Sections 7 & 18) T. 32 S., R. 24 E.

Nonexistent

Frogtown*

Section 5, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

Mayer's Camp*

Section 9, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

No. 16 Central Camp*

Section 12, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

No. 10 Crowe Camp*

Section 13, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

No. 42 Central Camp*

Section 24, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

No. 43 Central Camp*

Section 25, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

Masonville

Section 21, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

Cokedale*

Section 21, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Nonexistent

Mackie*

Section 14, T. 32 S.) R. 23 E.

Hamlet

Skidmore

Section 24, T. 32 S.) R. 23 E.

Hamlet

Newcastle¶

Section 19, T. 32 St., R. 24 E. (probable)

Nonexistent

Turck

Section 30, T. 32 S., R. 24 E.

Hamlet

Stippville

Section 31, T. 32 S., R. 23 E.

Hamlet

* Confirmed Company camps.

Ý Croweburg consisted of four individual camps (No. 14 Croweburg Camp, No. 15 Croweburg Camp, No. 16 Croweburg camp, and New Camp), which were located within one-half mile of each other. Their physical growth resulted in one coalesced community, Croweburg.

ý Accurate spelling not confirmed.

§ Although Williamstown presently does not quite contain the required number of farm and nonfarm residences in order to qualify as a hamlet, the residences have a clustered arrangement.

¶ It could not be absolutely determined that Newcastle was a small mining camp; however, its presence as a community with two shaft mines very near it was cited in the First Annual Repot of the State Inspector of Mines, 1884, and in the Second Annual Report of the State Inspector of Coal Mines, for the year ending December 31, 1885. The name of Newcastle is associated with coal mining, for Newcastle, England, has for many decades, been an important urban place noted for its rich coal fields. Thus, there is strong circumstantial evidence that Newcastle was a small mining community in Cherokee county in the early or mid-1880's but ceased to exist after only a few years of existence. No mention was made of it in subsequent state mine reports.

Wood-Simons [20] interestingly described the semimobility of many mining camps in the coal field:

Shafts are constantly being sunk and camps being moved. Rickety cabins, such as the miners live in, are easily knocked down and set up again, or put on wheels and moved across country. In one instance, the mule shed of the old camp found itself metamorphosed into miners' shacks in the new camp.

In a later issue of The Coming Nation was found the following statement about the frequent dismantling of coal camps:

Out on the prairie are rows of vacant mining shacks. These shacks are being hauled away to house the families of miners in other places. The machinery has been carefully drawn out of the mine, cared for and moved to where it can produce new profits. [21]

The transported houses, shacks, and other buildings, now a part of another coal camp, were many times lined up in rows; the vacant strips of ground between the rows of houses usually became the dirt-surfaced roads and streets of the camps (Figures 4, 5, and 6). The process of establishing new camps with structures from previous camps and also with newly built buildings was frequently repeated during the period of shaft mining in the coal field. Employees frequently moved from mine to mine and from camp to camp during the halcyon era of underground mining (1874-1930).

During the late 1920's and 1930's, a series of debilitating factors, acting in combination, caused the steady decline of underground mining in the coal field. The main causative factors were the economic impact of the depression, the rise of mechanized surface mining, competition from oil and gas, labor problems in the coal field (strikes), and competition from Eastern coals. [22]

With the decline of underground mining, the cultural landscape of the two counties changed. As the mines ceased operation, the mining camps near the mines were moved or were vacated and gradually fell into various stages of decay. Many individuals associated with these mines went to other operating mines in the area, migrated to other coal mining regions, or entered different trades. Railroad spurs, ties, and some tracks were removed; the surface scars visible today are the chatted grades and some abandoned railroad equipment. Many of the shale-ballasted or dirt roads leading to the mines and camps were grown over by vegetation or plowed for use as cropland. Houses were moved away from many camps; the ground on which they stood was plowed or grown over by vegetation. At some sites, the remnants of foundations, sidewalks, cellars, and water wells attest to the erstwhile, busy mining communities. At other sites, no surface expressions, save the tailing pile or dump of the former mine, remain. These sites that were once camps are now crop fields, pastures, or scrubland.

Mechanized strip mining was responsible for the obliteration of sites of a number of camps established earlier during the period of underground mining. As examples, the sites of Nelson Camp, No. 12 Sheridan Camp, No. 17 Central Camp, Burnett Camp, Red Camp (South), and No. 49 Central Camp in Crawford county are now stripped lands. Regarding the aforementioned camps, all of the structures (e. g., buildings, mine tipple, houses) had been removed prior to mechanized stripping of their sites.

Several of the mining communities survived the decline of underground mining and became the hamlets, villages, towns, and the one city (Pittsburg) of the area of study (Table 1). Several important factors accounted for the survival and eventual change of a sizeable number of mining communities. The longevity of mines and number of mines near the mining communities were influential; several nearby mines operating for long stretches of time helped to maintain the coal-oriented communities. When one of the mines ceased operation, the employees stayed in the camp and found employment in another nearby mine. With time, more efficient and faster transportation (e. g., motor-driven vehicles and the Joplin & Pittsburg electric railroad) enabled miners to remain in their places of habitation and to travel several miles to mines. A number of mining communities (e. g., Pittsburg, Anna, Frontenac, Mulberry, Scammon) were located on one or more railroad lines, and this locational advantage lent stability to the communities. Larger mining-oriented communities (e. g., Pittsburg, Anna) possessed a diversified economic base that helped to sustain them during the decline of underground mining. With the demise of underground mining, some miners remained in former camps and worked, if they were able, in other economic pursuits, usually in or near the coal field. Other miners, in retirement or on welfare, remained in the camps. The aforementioned factors, frequently acting in combination, were influential in the survival and metamorphism of a number of coal mining settlements.

In summary, commercial underground mining, principally shaft mining, stimulated the beginning and growth of numerous agglomerated mining communities in the Cherokee-Crawford coal field. A sizeable number of the present-day rural and urban communities can trace their origins back to a camp near an underground mine. As a result of adverse economic conditions during the 1920's and 1930's and technological improvements in mechanized surface mining, shaft mining steadily declined in output and importance. The decline had a debilitative effect upon the many mining communities and their inhabitants. Miners and dependents departed, and most camps were moved or fell into physical decay. Where crops now grow or cattle now graze on many sites, there were once busy mines and mining communities. With the cessation of the last shaft mine in the coal field in April, 1960, a colorful and important era of mining ended which had a profound impact upon the history of this portion of southeastern Kansas.

Notes

WILLIAM E. POWELL, native of Oklahoma, received his B. S. degree from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, his M. S. from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and the Ph. D. degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is currently an associate professor of geography at the Kansas State College of Pittsburg.

1. C. M. Young and H. C. Allen, Kansas Coal, Engineering Bulletin No. 13, Vol. 26, No. 5, Engineering Experiment Station of the University of Kansas (Topeka, Kansas State Printing Plant, March, 1935), p. 39.
2. Annual Report of Coal Mine and Metal Mine Inspection, 1931 (Topeka, Kansas State Printing Plant, 1932), p. 9.
3. C. M. Young and H. C. Allen, Kansas Coal. Also Walter H. Schoewe, Coal Resources of the Cherokee Group in Eastern Kansas (Mulky Coal), Geological Bulletin No. 134, Part 5 (Lawrence, State Geological Survey, 1959), p. 212.
4. Ibid., pp. 211-212.
5. George E. Abernathy, Mined Areas of the Weir-Pittsburg Coal Bed, Geological Bulletin No. 52, Part 5 (Lawrence, State Geological Survey of Kansas, 1944), pp. 214, 220. Abernathy additionally stated that the average depth of the Weir-Pittsburg seam in the area mined by shaft mines was 150 feet; this average depth was still too deep by the earlier modes of mining.
6. Ibid., and see the accompanying map of underground mines in his study.
7. "Frontenac Came From Coal Camp Built Up at S. F. No. 1," Pittsburg Daily Headlight, May 19, 1926, Sec. E (Jubilee Edition).
8. Nathaniel T. Allison, ed., History of Cherokee County, Kansas (Chicago, Biographical Publishing Company, 1904), p. 172.
9. William E. Powell, "The Historical Geography of the Impact of Coal Mining Upon the Cherokee-Crawford Coal Field of Southeastern Kansas" (unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, Department of Geography, University of Nebraska, 1970), pp. 231-232.
10. W. G. Pierce and W. H. Courtier, Geology and Coal Resources of the Southeastern Kansas Coal Field, Geological Bulletin No. 24 (Lawrence, State Geological Survey, 1938), p. 82.
11. Mary Wood-Simons, "Mining Coal and Maiming Men," The Coming Nation, Girard, November 11, 1911, p. 4.
12. See the copy of the original plat in the office of the register of deeds in the Crawford county courthouse, Girard.
13. Ibid.
14. "Mining Industry Dates to Pits of Pioneers," Pittsburg Daily Headlight, May 19, 1926, Sec. F.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Twenty-Fourth Annual Report of the Inspection of Coal Mines and Coal Production, State of Kansas, 1916 (Topeka, Kansas State Printing Plant, 1917), pp. 42, 60.
18. John M. Robb, "The Migration of Negro Coal Miners From Alabama to Southeast Kansas in 1899" (unpublished master's thesis, Department of Social Science, Kansas State College, 1966).
19. Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Census of the United States (Population) for the years 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.
20. Mary Wood-Simons, "Mining Coal and Maiming Men," The Coming Nation, November 11, 1911, p. 4.
21. "Crushed and Thrown Aside," ibid; August 31, 1912, p. 2.
22. William E. Powell, "The Historical Geography of the Impact of Coal Mining Upon the Cherokee-Crawford Coal Field," pp. 104-107.