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Chapter 3 - The Coal Fields of United States and Canada

THE COAL FIELDS of the United States rank first in area of all the coal fields of the world, the known coal areas aggregating 339, 887 square miles out of the total 3,624,122 square miles of the United States, including Alaska, or nearly one-tenth of the total area. To this may be added 84,482 square miles sup-posed, but not definitely known to contain workable coal, and 28,470 square miles in which the coal lies at depths of 3,000 feet or more.

The United States Geological Survey separates the coal areas of the United States into six divisions.

(1) The Eastern Province, which includes all of the bituminous areas of the Appalachian region; the Atlantic coast region, including the coal fields near Richmond, Va., and the Deep River and Dan River fields of North Carolina, and—last but not least—the anthracite region of Pennsylvania.

(2) The Gulf Province, which includes the lignite fields of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

(3) The Interior Province, which includes all the bituminous areas of the Mississippi Valley region and the coal fields of Michigan. This province is further sub-divided into:

(a) Eastern Interior Region, embracing the fields of Illinois, Indiana and Western Kentucky.

(b) Western Interior Region, comprising the fields of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

(c) Southwestern Interior Region, which includes the coal fields of Texas.

(4) The Northern Province or Great Plains Province, which includes the lignite areas of North Dakota and South Dakota and the bituminous and sub-bituminous areas of Northeastern Wyoming and Northern and Eastern Montana.

(5) The Rocky Mountain Province, which includes the coal fields of the mountainous districts of Montana and Wyoming and all the coal fields of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

(6) The Pacific Coast Province, which includes California, Oregon and Washington.

The anthracite fields of the United States are confined almost wholly to an area of 485 square miles in ten counties of eastern Pennsylvania.

The Appalachian coal seams, the anthracite seams of the Eastern Province and the seams of the Interior Province were trees and ferns and herbs that waved to the moist breeze of the carboniferous period of the Palæozoic era. The Rocky Mountain fields are largely from the Mesozoic era, while the Gulf fields and those of the Pacific Coast are the youngest ones, belonging principally to the Tertiary era.

CANADA has large supplies of bituminous and sub-bituminous coals, located for the most part in the Western Interior, although there are important fields on both coasts. The total areas of the Dominion cover 109,108 square miles.

On the Atlantic seaboard there are productive mines in Nova Scotia and small workable beds in New Brunswick. The interior fields include valuable lignite deposits in Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan. The extensive coal fields of Alberta are Canada's greatest reserve. The Crow's Nest and the Elk River fields in the Rocky Mountains are important.

The Pacific Coast area embraces the fields on Vancouver Island and on Queen Charlotte Islands, the latter yielding semi-anthracite, bituminous and lignite coals.

Extensive coal and lignite deposits exist also in the Yukon district, the lower McKenzie Region and the Arctic Islands.

On to Chapter 4

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