Wilmington Quadrangle

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Mining in the Wilmington Quadrangle

The first shaft was sunk in this area in 1864 to supply local trade, and was bought the same year by the Robbins Company. In 1866, the Chicago & Wilmington Coal Company was organized. They hired James Braidwood because of his experience with water problems in underground mines. Braidwood worked with the B and C Mines (mine indexes 3919 and 3931), then formed a cooperative with others and opened the Eagle Mine (mine index 3927). By 1873, eleven shafts were operating, including those operated by the Wilmington Coal Mining Company, the Coal, Iron & Transportation Company (A. B. Meeker), Wilmington Coal Mining & Manufacturing Company, Wilmington Star Coal Company, and the Eureka Coal Company. A great deal of the mining in this quadrangle occurred before 1882, when annual production was listed in the Coal Reports. The Chicago, Wilmington & Vermilion Coal Company dominated the area.

Early mining in the Colchester Coal was by longwall method. In early longwall mining, the coal was removed along a continuously advancing face that produced a circular pattern in ideal conditions. Near Braidwood, the coal was often quite shallow (30 to 65 feet was common), and with little bedrock above the coal to support the glacial till and surface soils, water was a common problem in the early mines. Few of the mines in the Wilmington Quadrangle have developed the circular outline, probably because of avoiding areas where the roof was too poor or too much water infiltrated. The proximity to the Chicago market was a great inducement to try to overcome the difficulties of mining a seam that averaged only 3 feet thick.

The shallow depth of the coal and lack of adequate roof was a bonus to later mining, which took advantage of large machinery to surface-mine great tracts of land. The large Peabody Northern Mine (mine index 0359) ceased operations in the early 1970s.

A thick seam, which may correlate with the Rock Island Coal, was mined about 5 miles north of Braidwood. This was a coal that occurred in pod-like deposits that were very thick (8 to 10 feet) but would thin to nothing within ½ mile. This seam was reputedly mined during the Civil War by Schoonmaker (mine index 5952) and Bardwell (mine index 5948).

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Coal Mines In Illinois Wilmington Quadrangle

Mines that Appear on the Wilmington Quadrangle

Unlocated Mines

Grundy County

Will County