North Carolina Mining

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Southeast United States Mining Disasters Team | North Carolina Mine Disaster Category | North Carolina Mining

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North Carolina Mining is the History, Information, and Resource page for the State of North Carolina in the United States, in the Southeast United States Mining Disasters Team of the Disasters Project.

It includes a Table of Disasters by County linking the Independent Disaster Pages. The Independent Disaster Pages include a list of those killed, survived or injured from which individual miner profiles may be created and honored or memorials added to those profiles existing on WikiTree.


History of Coal Mining in North Carolina

Coal in North Carolina is limited to two belts of Triassic sediment: the sporadic Dan River belt and the larger Deep River belt, which runs along the Deep River in Lee, Moore, and Chatham Counties. Metamorphosed from deposits of vegetable matter into hard, long-burning fuel, coal was utilized in forges in the Carolina colony before the American Revolution. During that war, coal from the Horton Mine, near Cumnock, was used in an ironworks at Gulf in Chatham County.

Map of the Deep River Coal Field

The Deep River coalfield is the only area in the state known to contain beds of commercial significance. Approximately 35 miles long and between 5 and 10 miles wide, the field contains medium volatile bituminous coal and is centered around 10 miles northwest of Sanford in the Cumnock Formation. The Egypt and Coal Glen Mines produced coal from this seam only intermittently from 1854 to 1953. However, significant periods of operation did occur. Production during the Civil War, especially from the Egypt Mine (in present-day Lee County), was extremely important, as coal was supplied to the Confederate arsenal in Fayetteville and the Charlotte Navy Yard.

Coal production retained the war's boost until 1873; other noteworthy periods were 1889-1905 and 1918-30, both mines operating during the latter interval. Although Coal Glen Mine produced about 14,000 tons of coal in 1949, averaging 100 tons per day, production on the Deep River seam ceased in 1953 because of the depth and the many dissecting faults that broke up the field. For these reasons, the area has proven to be uneconomical to mine, even though reserves are estimated to be 110 million tons.[1]

The existence of a coal bed in the Deep River Valley was documented as early as 1775, although knowledge of it was not widespread. Little is known about early efforts to extract the coal, although apparently there was one mine in operation in the county near modern-day Gulf by 1811. Although the presence of coal in Chatham County was noted by state officials as early as the 1830s, it was not highly sought-after until the development of the railroad and the steamship. By the 1850s, a number of mines in the county existed. In November 1853, an auger boring uncovered a coal seam some 400 feet deep at the Egypt site. A shaft was sunk, which reached the vein in February 1856. Production began a few months later, and by May the first advertisements for Egypt coal were issued. Coal was initially transported to Fayetteville by wagon, and steamship transportation quickly followed. The Western Railroad was developed to carry the coal from the mine to Fayetteville.

During the Civil War, coal from the mine was utilized by both state and Confederate officials for the railroads, for the Confederate Navy Yard at Charlotte, and for Confederate blockade runners at Wilmington. However, the coal produced at Egypt was not of a high quality and burned quite dark. Therefore, any blockade runners utilizing the coal ran an increased risk of being spotted by Union naval vessels. [2]

Worst Mining Disasters in North Carolina

Table of Disasters

North Carolina Mining Disasters
Date Mine Name Location No. Killed County Disaster Cause Year
27-May-1925 Coal Glen Farmville Mine Coal Glen, NC 53 Chatham Explosion 1925
19-Dec-1895 Egypt/Cumnock Mine 1895 Cumnock, NC 39 Lee Explosion 1895
23-May-1900 Egypt/Cumnock Mine 1900 Coal Glen, NC 23 Chatham Explosion 1900
27-Dec-1928 Carolina Mine Hoisting Accident Sandford, NC 4 Lee Hoisting Accident 1928
If listing has a white background, this Mine Disaster did not have 10 or more fatalities and is disqualified from the Project. Please do not create Project Space Pages for these Mines.


  1. by Charles H. McArver, 2006 for the Encyclopedia of North Carolina.
  2. NC Markers

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