by James C. Sherlock
When we talk of coal today, which is seldom, it is usually not treated well.
It is easy to forget (if some even know) that coal powered the industrial revolution, made America the richest nation in the world and fueled American war production that supported allied victories in both world wars in the 20th century.
Coal powered nearly everything starting in the early part of the 19th century. Power plants, trains, ships, and virtually anything else powered by steam used coal to boil the water.
The iron and then steel-making process depended then, and still does, on coking coal.
Coal — and the co-dependent railroads — played big roles in Virginia history.
I strongly recommend to you Virginia Coal, An Abridged History. It was published in 1990 by the Virginia Center for Coal & Energy Research at Virginia Tech.