July 01, 2009

Coal mining in Lynchburg


avid has discovered another treasure here in Lyncburg—coal. That’s right, the black chunks that used to be trees a few thousand years ago but are now flammable rocks. Very cool.

David with his pile of coal

This began with a few shiny black rocks scattered around on the ground near our house, but then David found an enormous amount of coal along the side of Black Water Creek Trail when we went for a bike ride this past Saturday. He collected as much of it as he could, put it in my backpack and then filled a bucket with it at home.

Yesterday afternoon we decided to see what it’s like to burn real coal in our fire pit. We put down some charcoal to get things rolling and once the charcoal had begun to burn well, we piled the coal on top of it. The coal caught immediately and the ten or so chunks that we had piled there burned all night long. We noticed deep yellow smoke coming from the coal as it burned. I pointed it out to David and explained that the yellow smoke is from sulfur, which gives the burning coal its smell. David loves the smell because it reminds him of the steam engine train at Dollywood.

So, yet another really cool feature of Lynchburg—coal, just lying around on the ground waiting to be picked up and used.


  1. Richard, I thought the same exact thing when my husband and I drove along a rural stretch of Kentucky highway. He took me down "hollers" and I got a real glimpse of rural poor, some 20 years ago or so, on that particular trip. Coal falls off the coal trucks, and it is there along the highway, easy to get a substantial amount in only a few hours, and I thought if I were poor, this would be one of my tasks - to gather up the fallen coal and use it for cooking and heating in the winter.

    Great minds think alike!

  2. I don't know where this coal came from. We live on a road that would not see coal trucks - so I don't think the ones near our house fell off of trucks. More likely, they are left overs from houses that used to be in the woods here (the woods aren't here anymore either).

    The coal is plentiful along the sides of the Black Water Creek Trail because that trail used to be a railroad and steam engines were plentiful on that railroad in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is nice to just be able to pick it up and burn it without having to pay for it.


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