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Historical Coal Mining in Texas

Mining map
Mining Areas - Click on map to view higher resolution image

Download zipped shapefile for mining areas (24kb)
Download PDF file for mining areas map (223 KB)

Mining map
Mining Counties - Click on map to view higher resolution image

Download zipped shapefile for coal mining counties (2.4MB)
Download PDF file for mining areas map (212 KB)

The first account of coal mining in Texas was written about an unnamed lignite mine near the Sabine River in 1819. Most of the coal extraction in the state consisted of small operations until the 1880s.

Three classes of coal have been mined in Texas: bituminous (including cannel coal), sub-bituminous, and lignite. Most of the coal mining done from the 1800s to 1944 (when oil started replacing coal as a fuel source in Texas) used underground methods, where vertical shafts or sloped adits (tunnel entrance) provided access to the mine workings. Surface strip mining (also known as area, open pit, or open cast mining) to extract lignite was used at several mines starting in the 1920s, but was the only means of extracting lignite after 1951.

The major coal mining areas or regions have been identified through several inventories. Coal mining activity has been verified in 32 localities within 18 coal mining areas/regions (click on the upper right thumbnail map for a higher resolution version). The current tally of identified historical coal mine sites stands at 316. Historical coal mining activity took place within 40 counties (click on the lower right thumbnail map for a higher resolution version).

All coal mining as of August 1977 has been regulated under the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). The mine sites included in the two maps were all in operation and abandoned prior to enactment of SMCRA legislation; therefore the mining companies were not required to reclaim those sites.

This web page was developed by the Railroad Commission of Texas to provide online access to maps that show areas or regions where historical coal mining has taken place in Texas. Only pre-Act sites were included in these maps.

Historical, underground coal mining can pose a hazard if shafts or adits are still accessible to the public. People should stay out of underground mines - they are not like caves. Poisonous or bad air, explosive gases, unstable roofs, and flooded sections can pose lethal hazards. The national public awareness campaign, Stay Out! Stay Alive! (http://www.msha.gov/sosa/SOSAhome.asp) provides more information on the dangers of abandoned and active mine sites.

The underground workings (rooms and tunnels) can also collapse and create sinkholes or depressions in the surface. These collapses are generally unpredictable, can occur decades after mining ceased, and can damage surface structures or pose an additional hazard for people or livestock.

For more information, please contact:

Abandoned Mine Land Section
Surface Mining and Reclamation Division
Railroad Commission of Texas
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701
Phone - (512) 463-7313 or email - smrdmaps@rrc.state.tx.us