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timeline 1673-1885

French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet report seeing coal along the banks of the Illinois River near Ottawa.

The first commercial sale of coal from Illinois drift mine along the banks of Big Muddy River near Murphysboro.

First official recording of annual Illinois coal production list 6,000 tons mined.

August 8, 1836
German immigrant Michael Snyder buys 80 acres of land from the federal government for $1.25 per acre in what becomes Christian County and in 1849 land in Shelby County that will contain the future village of Moweaqua.

First railroad built with the purpose of shipping coal was by a company organized by Governor Reynolds and connected the mines along the bluffs of the Mississippi River in St. Clair County with a point opposite St. Louis, MO.

Village of “Moawequa” in Shelby County laid out by Michael Snyder. The name is later accidentally changed by the county clerk to Moweaqua.

October 6, 1853
Post office established in Moweaqua.

Illinois Central Railroad is completed through Moweaqua.

The American Miners Association is organized in Belleville, IL and becomes the first miner’s union to extend beyond one state. The Association became inactive after 1868.

Strip mining began near Danville, Illinois, when horse-drawn plows and scrapers were used to remove overburden so the coal could be dug and hauled away in wheelbarrows and carts.

The second bituminous coal washery (for washing and cleaning mined coal) in the United States was erected in East St. Louis.

August 1874
Mr. Behring begins boring for coal in Decatur. Coal is mined in mines east and south of downtown Decatur from 1879 until 1947.

Coal is discovered in Niantic. A mine is started in 1883 and a shaft cage accident in September 1885 injures five miners.  Coal is mined in Section 12 of Township 16 North and Range 1 West of the 3rd Principal Meridian by various companies until 1924.

April 25, 1876
The Chicago White Stockings play and win their first game in the newly formed National Baseball League. They start being called the “Cubs” in 1902.

June 25, 1876
Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer is killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

November 1882
The Illinois Board of Labor Statistics reveals that St. Clair County leads the state with 76 coal mines in operation. They employ 1428 men over age 16 and 155 males under age sixteen.

February 16, 1883
72 miners drowned when melting snow flooded the Diamond Mine owned by the Wilmington Coal Mining & Manufacturing Company in Braidwood, IL

The web site Early Days of Coal Mining in Northern Illinois gives a brief history of problems that miners faced in company towns.

The first of 17 mines in Christian County is opened in Pana, Illinois.
The Illinois Bureau of Mines and Minerals was created, which had authority to inspect the state’s coal mines.

The first year mechanical stripping equipment, other than horses and scoops, was used.