Energy timelines - coal

   
Coal is called a fossil fuel because it was formed from the remains of vegetation that grew as long as 400 million years ago. It is often referred to as "buried sunshine," because the plants which formed coal captured energy from the sun through photosynthesis to create the compounds that make up plant tissues.
   
   
1763-1774
Pumping water from coal mines was a most difficult and expensive problem. The steam engine developed by James Watt during these years provided the solution. Watt's steam engine remained basically unchanged for the next century and its uses expanded to change the whole nature of industry and transportation.

 
1885-1950
Coal was the most important fuel. One half ton of coal produced as much energy as 2 tons of wood and at half the cost. But it was hard to stay clean in houses heated with coal.

 
Late 1860’s
The steel industry gave coal a big boost.
 
1882
The first practical coal-fired electric generating station, developed by Thomas Edison, went into operation in New York City to supply electricity for household lights.

 
1885
A converted wooden dredge with a 50-foot boom was used to uncover a coal bed under 35 feet of overburden.

 
1910
Surface mining was underway with steam shovels specifically designed for coal mining.
 
1920's
Mechanical coal-loading equipment replaced hand loading and increased productivity. Mules and, to a lesser degree, horses and oxen were used to haul coal and refuse in and around the early mines; a few dogs were used in small mines working thin coal beds. In time, the animals were replaced by electric locomotives, dubbed "electric mules," and other haulage equipment.
 
 
 
     

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