July 25, 2005
ODNR Seeking Assistance From Former Coal Miners, Historical Societies And Others
To Help Locate Old, Abandoned Underground Mines
COLUMBUS, OH - In an effort to expand the existing database of abandoned underground coalmines in eastern and southeastern Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is seeking help from former miners and others in locating previously unrecorded mines.
“A potentially valuable resource exists within Ohio’s coal region where retired miners or their descendants may have early underground mine maps in their possession as keepsakes or memorabilia,” said Mike Sponsler, chief of the ODNR Division of Mineral Resources Management. “In addition, county courthouses, engineering and consulting firms, local historical societies, museums and libraries may hold historic mine maps within their collections that we may not be aware of. We want to borrow these maps so they can be scanned into our database and returned to the lender in good condition.”
Commercial mining began in Ohio in 1800. Since then thousands of mine openings have been created and developed in the 32 counties within the coal region on the state. Some of these mining activities were small family operations. Maps of such underground mine operations or systems are of special interest to ODNR. Using today’s computer technology, geologists can help pinpoint the location of abandoned mines in relation to current surface activities. In addition, old mine maps also help ODNR and other state and local agencies investigate subsidence and other hazards caused by abandoned underground mines.
The database of abandoned underground mines, which ODNR has been building for more than 35 years, has helped the agency and coal industry prevent excavating into abandoned mine works. Just such an accident in 2002 drew national attention when water flooded Pennsylvania’s Quecreek Mine, trapping nine miners in the process. The miners were rescued, but a previously unknown map of abandoned mine works in the area was found in a local museum after the accident that could have aided in its prevention.
Anyone having old underground coal mine maps they would be willing to loan may contact Elizabeth Reeb at 614-265-1016. The abandoned underground mine locator website can be found at ohiodnr.com/geosurvey, then click on “Interactive Maps.”