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Bulletin 111—One hundred years of coal mining in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico

By H. B. Nickelson, 1988, 226 pp., 63 tables, 220 figs., 1 index.


A compendium of facts, figures, stories, and photographs of the more than 250 coal mines that existed or exist today in the San Juan Basin. This volume contains a wealth of data culled from mine inspectors' reports, USGS coal files, company files, and the author's own investigations over many years. Each chapter deals specifically with a particular mine or prospect; many are located on USGS quadrangle maps, which are reproduced in the book. This book is both a record of the role of coal mining in the territory and the state of New Mexico and an account of the people who worked in and around the mines.

Coal was one of the reasons for the construction of the early railroads in NM, providing in an unusual cycle both fuel to propel the engines and a sizable portion of the freight. Coal from NM provided energy for the two World Wars. It attracted to the state fine, hard-working people of many nationalities whose families are now some of our best citizens. The growth and prosperity of the cities of Raton, Gallup, and Farmington stem partly from nearby coal mines. The coal industry provides a considerable amount of income to the state in the form of taxes and royalties.The statistics in this volume have been compiled from the annual reports of the TMIs and SMIs from USGS coal files. Data concerning fatalities have been excerpted from the TMI and SMI records; the names of the deceased and the dates and causes of death are listed with the mine where the fatalities occurred. Fatality records before 1892 were not found.

It was desired that information for each field include location and history, and that each mine location include names of operators, dates of operations, mine maps, production, coal thicknesses, coal analyses, and photographs. Search of the literature has, of course, frequently yielded only small amounts of this information. A brief discussion of the railroads, which were vitally important to the coal industry, has been included in the introduction.

This bulletin was written to record the role that coal played in the history of the territory and state of NM. Until now, there has been no compilation of information on coal mines in NM. Inevitably, as the years go by, more and more data relating to coal mining in NM are lost or destroyed. The author has considered it important to compile and make available, both for the reader and for the record, this history of coal mining in the San Juan Basin. It is dedicated to the memory of the men who were crippled or who lost their lives in and about the coal mines of the state.

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