Time Line on Coal Mining in United States
 
1679: Father Hennepin notes "cole mine" 50-60 miles sw of present site of Chicago
1701: reference in elder William Byrd's journal to coal on south side of James River above Richmond
1704: Col. William Byrd takes out patent on 344 acres of coal land
1732: earliest reference to use of coal; Byrd's account of Massaponax furnace
1740-50s: first mention of coal in West Virginia
1755: Lewis Evans map of middle colonies shows coal in Ohio
1760s-70s: references to coal in journals and diaries fairly frequent
1766: coal advertised for sale in Virginia Gazette; anthracite discovered in Wyoming valley, PA
1770-80s: mines open in Schuylkill PA
1780s: numerous pits open on James River
1784: Penn family surveys building lots on lands at Pittsburg, PA and sell mining rights
1785: first tract in Clearfield County (NE of Pittsburg) patented
1790: Virginia coal being exported
 1800: William Morris hauls wagonload of coal to Philadelphia, but can't sell it; significant coal production in WV, stimulated by development of salt industry (Kanawha River area most important in US; 90 furnaces by 1840; used 200k tons of coal/year) and steam navigation of Ohio, Kanawha rivers
1804: first discovery of coal west of Mississippi River
1808: 400k bushels / year being shipped on canals in Virginia
1812: War of 1812 disturbs coastwise shipping of Va coal; gives impetus to opening anthracite fields in PA
1818: at least 25 pits open in 20-25 ft. thick seams in Richmond basin; steam engines pumping water
1820: first shipment of Alleghany County, MD coal down Potomac
1823: first regular shipments of anthracite coal to Philadelphia
1835: new state geological survey in Virginia leads to opening new pits
1840: mining operations in eight counties of WV; 400 miners employed
 1841: 125k bushels shipped from Virginia to Boston; ca. 1000 men employed in mines (mostly slaves); Virginia pits unreliable; developed because of proximity to coast; declined as Pennsylvania coal came in
1843: B&O Railroad reaches Mineral County, WV; shipments of coal to Baltimore and Philadelphia begin
1845: daily steam boats on Kanawha River in WV; great stimulus to coal mining
1860: 25 coal corporations existed to exploit coal in WV; some using black slaves as labor
1873: C&O Railroad built through New River field in WV
1880s: coal mines operating in east Tennessee; 4500 miners employed in WV
1880-90: Norfolk and Western Railroad built into Pocahontas coal field in WV
1881-83: Paint Creek and Cabin Creek WV areas opened for mining
1910ff.: eastern Kentucky coal fields open
1931-33: "Bloody Harlan" (KY) coalfields conflicts over unionization
1950s: stripmining becomes prominent in southern Appalachia; second wave of mechanization of deep mines
1960s: western coal fields open