Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Springfield Illinois' Dark Under World


If You Could Explore Springfield, Illinois Abandoned Coal Mines
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Springfield, Illinois is surrounded by abandoned underground coal mines. As Springfield grew it developed over coals mines which were at one point farm fields. Springfield and Sangamon County produced more coal than any other city and county during World War II. At that time coal mining was vital not only in the production of electricity, but also in providing industrial chemicals needed in wartime manufacturing.



Would You Know Which Way To Go?
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Springfield played such an important role in mining that labor leader John Lewis, and the United Mine Workers union was based in downtown Springfield. Coal mining was a dirty, and dangerous job, but it was a vitally important job in a rapidly developing nation. The UAW strove to improve mine safety conditions, and pay for tens of thousands of miners. Labor leaders, and union members faced termination of employment, arrest, beatings, and assassination at the hands of corrupt police, and hired company thugs. The labor movement was branded as communist activity, and conservative newspapers across the nation slanted their stories with inflammatory headlines employing the use of the word "Reds" to describe Union members.
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Would You Find Evidence of Its Makers?
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Today most would agree that improvements in work place safety, a forty hour work week, overtime, and a minimum wage are simply part of the cost of doing business in a civilized society, but advocating these improvements cost many people their lives.
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Would It Be A World Of Motion?

As the coal mines around the Springfield, Illinois area were exhausted the mines were shut down, and new mines were started in other parts of Sangamon County which are in operation today. There is still more coal in Sangamon County than in any other County in Illinois. Illinois has more coal than any other state. The State of Illinois is literally resting upon a sea of coal..

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Or A Place To Rest?
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Despite the vast amount of coal available in Illinois electric companies shifted toward the purchase of low sulfur coals mined in other states. The cost of cleaning Illinois coal was not significantly greater than using low sulfur coal, but in a cheap energy economy the extra cost simply could not be justified. Today with oil prices on the rise, and new technology available Illinois vast coal deposits can once again be economically put to use.
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A Place To Lay Your Weary Bones?
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There is, however, a raging debate about carbon dioxide. The question is what can be done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions? Carbon sequestration is one possible solution. Large pockets space exist under Illinois which can be filled with carbon dioxide produced by the state's coal burning plants. The technology of carbon sequestration is already being used in Europe, and it is likely that sequestration will find a use in Illinois in the not too distant future.
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Within Its Grave Yard?
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Yet it seems obvious that the finite coal resources will one day themselves become depleted, and renewable energy resources will be needed. Whether this be in seventy five years, or several hundred years isn't as important as addressing the issue of global warming. Coal mining represents nineteenth century technology, and will one day be relegated to the era of the steam engine.


About This Post.

Hat tip to Dave of The11thhour, John Boy, Brave Miners Everywhere, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and The folk who explore abandoned mines (Photo Source).

Photos for this post are of actual abandoned coal mines (not of Springfield's mines). Decades after these mines are abandoned many of them are still as they were the day they were closed. Many are filled, or partially filled with water. Others have lost support pillars and have caved in. While others are dry, and run for miles without any disruption.

How many miles of abandoned but intact coal mines are under the homes of Springfield, Illinois I could not guess, but some areas have been hit to some degree with subsidence, and it is likely that many more areas will be affected in the future as mines closed over forty years ago begin to collapse.

2 comments:

Beulah said...

My great grandfather worked as a coal miner. I saw this website and found it interesting. I have only one photo of him and he looks so tired. Also saw today that on the grounds of IL State Capital that there is a sculpture in honor of the miners.

Thank you for sharing.

Lorraine

Beulah said...

My great grandfather Alexander Galant from Belgium worked in the coal mines in Springfield. You let me see through his eyes by posting these photos.

Thank you for sharing.

Lorraine

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