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Arkansas Coal Mining


Sebastian County, Arkansas:

(Taken from the ARSEBAST-L at Rootsweb; posted by Carolyn (Parsons) Smedley)

The Coal Boom:
When the entire nation depended on coal to power industries, heat houses and run railroads a rich vein of coal was discovered under Sebastian County. The coal boom was slow in coming because the Civil War and Reconstruction left the county devastated without any infrastructure, especially track and railroad cars necessary to haul out the heavy loads of coal.

By the 1870's the Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad was completed to Sebastian County and later, the St. Louis and San Francisco line was completed. Others quickly followed, linking the county to the rest of the nation by rail. Soon after, strip-mining began to thrive here and there in the south part of the county. Eventually spur lines were laid directly to the mines.

HACKETT CITY, one of the first true deep mines in the county began operation in 1882 with the arrival of the Midland Valley Railroad, and the town grew very quickly.

The M0T Coal Company laid out the future town of HUNTINGTON in 1887 and opened a huge mine within a year.

The future town of MANSFIELD also sitting atop the coal was platted the same year.

The West Mining Company started a large operation not far from JENNY LIND at a site they named "NEW JENNY LIND."

BONANZA began in 1896 as a mining camp of the Central Coal and Coke Company.

Companies in Sebastian County were opening new mines almost monthly. The Central Coal and Coke Company had mines at HARTFORD, PRAIRIE CREE, BONANZA & HUNTINGTON. Other mines were running in communities like MIDLAND, EXCELSIOR and JENNY LIND. Some towns had several mines in operation at the same time. By 1912, the Choctaw and Midland Valley Railroad served more than 15 mines and reportedly had nearly 1800 coal cars alone.

Behind the miners came the hopeful families and then the merchants.

THE 1910 CENSUS SHOWS: Populations of the days when coal was KING in western Arkansas.
BONANZA...811 (1500)
HACKETT ...363 (3500)
MANSFIELD..816 (2500)
HARTFORD..1780 (4,000)
MIDLAND ...639...(1,200)
HUNTINGTON..1,700 (2,800)