Coal was discovered in the St. Charles area in 1896. On this site in 1917 the Robert Gage Coal Company sunk a shaft 200 feet beneath the surface. The main entry off the shaft was about three miles long. At times, the mine employed as many as four hundred men, who worked in pairs. In 1919 a miner earned sixty to seventy cents per ton. After undercutting and blasting coal from seams 22 to 64 inches thick, miners shoveled it into cars that were pulled by mules and electric motors to the cage, where it was lifted up the shaft to the tipple. It was then sorted, weighed and loaded into railroad cars. The highest grade of bituminous coal in Michigan was mined here until 1931, when the shift to other fuels and competition from higher grade coal in other states made it necessary to close.
To view the mine contact Hartley Outdoor Education Center, because Hartley is and education center they usually have students visiting and you need to check in with them at the office before you can have access to property. Contact info can be found HERE
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