Mining in the Bloomington West Quadrangle
Coal was discovered in February 27, 1867 by the North Shaft Coal Company (Thomas Bunn, Judson Spaulding, Dr. H. C. Luce and James L. Ridelhuber), but the mine failed due to water problems. (This shaft was near the 1924 Bloomington water works.) In 1867, McLean County Coal Company sank a shaft in the location shown on the accompanying map and prospered. In the 1890s, shale removed from this mine contributed to the raw materials for the Bloomington Pressed Brick Company, and this brick was used for pavement and building. Bloomington is credited with having the first brick pavement in the United States, on the south and west side of the public square in 1877. However, most of the material used to make the bricks was brought from elsewhere, as the shale and underclay in the Bloomington area was not of the best quality for brick and tile purposes. Around the same time, the Bloomington Coal Company sunk a shaft near the tracks of the Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, located about a half mile north of the depot and about one mile north of the McLean County Coal Company. Years of operation and production for the Bloomington Coal Company mine are unknown.
A fourth mine in Bloomington was organized by miners striking the McLean County Coal Company in April of 1885. This mine (mine index 6373, Bloomington Co-operative Coal Company) operated for less than a year before abandoning the operation because of financial difficulties. It was re-opened in 1889, but operated for barely a year before selling and then closing again. The Coal Report repeated a suspicion that the mine was bought by the McLean County Coal Company, which left only one mine operating in Bloomington.