Mining in the Morris Quadrangle
The earliest mining in this area was reported in the 1850s. In 1853, James Watson found a 5 foot vein of coal on the Schoonmaker’s farm, near the Illinois River on Waupecan Creek, which he mined and sold in Chicago (Joyce, 1980). Samuel Wood and Daniel Williams opened the first coal bank in the vicinity of Morris (Sereno) about 1954, which operated in the winters for ten years. James Telfer is attributed with the first shaft mine in Grundy County. This mine was located on the Old Peacock farm in Morris Township, and was 58 ½ feet deep. By 1857, six mines, including Telfer’s, were said to have been operating in the Morris and Dresden areas. These mines were small, local mines, which often stripped 7 to 15 feet of topsoil and clay to reach the coal (Joyce, 1980).
Many of the earliest mines were shaft mines. These often did not have extensive workings, only extending a few hundred feet until drainage, haulage and ventilation became problems. A new shaft was then sunk rather than extending the mine. Because of the problems in the mines and the relatively thin coal found here (2.5 - 3.0 feet thick on average), there were few shipping mines in this area.
Numerous mines existed in the area around the city of Morris. As early as 1882, the History of Grundy County reported that more than one hundred openings had been made, with many more in the years that followed. Many of the old, small mines known to exist in the areas north and south of Morris have not been able to be definitively located. A number of the mines listed in this directory may have been in the area encompassed by the Lisbon Quadrangle to the north.
The Colchester Coal is the only mineable seam in this quadrangle. It crops out in the northern half of the quadrangle. This area, around the town of Morris, lies at the northeastern edge of the Eastern Interior Coal Basin. The Colchester here is quite shallow, which allowed for later surface mining of the coal as well as underground mining.