Skip to main content

Strip Mining: Three States

July 2024
1min read

Sir:… In southern and central Illinois, for example, a “New Land” program has long been sponsored by the United Electric Coal Companies, now a subsidiary of General Dynamics. Since 1938 U. E.G. has actively sought to improve the land from which coal has been extracted. Today, there are some eighteen thousand acres of New Land with forests, pastures, orchards, and over two hundred lakes. Some of the areas are wildlife preserves for deer, quail, rabbits, beaver, and wild game. Others are grazing ground for cattle or forests for future timber. The orchards produce twenty-seven thousand bushels of apples as well as a crop of peaches. …

Typical of the New Land policy has been reforestation. Recognizing the need for a timber crop that could be harvested within a man’s lifetime, seedlings of southern pine were imported. Despite criticism that the area was too cold and rocky and the competition from the native hardwoods too severe, these pines today are seeding themselves and helping to create attractive lake and forest areas. …

One of the major reasons for the success of this reclamation program is the manner of mining. U.E.C. was the first coal company to develop the wheel type of excavator. This removes the overburden by digging upward so that the dirt and shale are deposited on the land in such a way that the earth can be regraded and easily planted.

Coal is still the most important commodity around a strip-mine area. But after the coal is gone, the New Land remains with ever-increasing abundance and opportunity for recreation. …

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.