THE COAL FIELDS AND PRODUCTS

OF THE OHIO VALLEY

The coal trade is likely to increase so rapidly, and become so large an element of traffic, that it is worth while to look into file sources of supply and demand. The first that strikes us is the remarkable and most important fact, that the Ohio valley contains (proprtionally) the largest coal field in the world.
1. What is the Ohio valley? The Ohio valley comprehends all that space of country penetrated. rated and watered by the Ohio river and its tributaries. It comprehends Western Pennsylvania, Western Virginia, all of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois up to the narrow rim of the lakes, and the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. It comprehends a surface of about 230,000 square miles; and on that surface the coal basins or in other words, the surface, which is underlaid with, coal is, according to the best authorities, as follows:

				      Sq. miles   Sq. miles coal 
                                       surface        surface

Western Pennsylvania.............       20,000        10,000
Western Virginia.................       25,000        18,000
Ohio ............................       35,000        10,000
Indiana .........................       33,000         7,500
Illinois ........................       40,000        35,000
Kentucky.........................       40,000        13,500
Tennessee  ......................       40,000         5,000
  				       ________      ________

     Aggregate...................      233,000        99,000
The above surfaces are not those of the States named, but of that part in the valley of the Ohio. We see, then, the extraordinary fact, that more than one-third the valley of the Ohio is underlaid with coal.
Let us now look at what the production of coal is, in the Ohio valley, and what it will be. The present production of coal in the Ohio valley is, after careful investigation, supposed to be as follows:

							bushels
Consumption of Pittsburgh for all purposes.......	22,300,000
Exported from Pittsburgh.........................       14,400,000
Consumption of Wheeling..........................	 2,000,000
Product of Popery and vicinity...................        7,000,000
Received at Cleveland from Ohio mines............        3,000,000
Product of Nelsonville...........................	 1,200,000
Product of other places in Ohio..................        3,000,000
Product of  Kentucky.............................	 2,000,000
Product of  Indiana..............................	 1,500,000
Product of  Illinois.............................	 1,000,000
Product of  Tennessee............................        1,000,000
				                         __________

    Aggregate ...................................       58,400,000	
In round numbers, we produce sixty millions of bushels of bituminous coal in the valley of the Ohio. But what is that in comparison with the consumption in other countries, and compared with what it will be! Let us look at the ratio of consumption in other countries, and compare it with our own.

							     Ratio
Great Britain  -      -      -      -      -      -         34 to 1
France         -      -      -      -      -      -          3 to 1
Belgium        -      -      -      -      -      -         25 to 1
Prussia        -      -      -      -      -      -        1/3 to 1
United States  -      -      -      -      -      -      9 1/2 to 1	
Ohio valley    -      -      -      -      -      -         10 to 1
This shows that the consumption of coal in the Ohio valley now is not more than one-third in proportion to that of France, England or Belgium.
This is owing to the cheapness of wood and the want of capital to develop the mines. But these obstacles are rapidly passing away. Wood is becoming dear in the commercial towns, and capital is fast learning that mining is a profitable business. It is quite obvious that the time is not far off in which the proportion of coal consumed will be quite as high in the States of Ohio valley as in Belgium. Besides this, it must increase likewise with the increase of population. Combining these, so as to advance the ratio, in the proportion of the increased population for the next thirty years, and we have the increase of coal consumed as follows, viz:


			Population	Ratio		Con of coal
In 1850			 5,000,000	10		60,000,000
In 1860			 8,000,000	13	       104,000,000	
In 1870		        10,600,000	17	       180,000,000
In 1880		        14,200,000	23	       326,000,000
This will probably be much below the results; for the rapid increase of manufacture, consequent on the opening of the central western mines of coal, iron, copper, zinc and lead, will increase population at a more rapid rate than is above stated; and the same cause will also increase more rapidly the ratio of consumption to population.
               				---Railroad Rec

Source:Debow's review, Agricultural, commercial, industrial progress and resources. Debow's review/ vol. 19, iss. 1 (Jul 1855)pp 206-208.
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