By Bill Heusinkveld - correspondent
Coal began to be produced in commercial quantities at the Thirty Mine in about 1905 when Manufacturers Coal and Coke Co. drilled their coal mine about a mile south of Centerville and one-fourth mile east of present Highway No. 5. A short rail spur of about 0.3 mile was built from the mail line to the tipple. The mine used both room & pillar and longwall methods of mining.
The mine became the Carbon Block Coal Co. Mine No. 30 in 1908 and the mine has been known as the Thirty Mind ever since. The number Thirty was used, not only to identify the mine but also the Thirty Road and even the settlement of Thirty, which prospered along the east side of the Thirty Road.
There were several fatalities in the Thirty Mine. In 1908 Samuel Campello, age 20, died under a fall of brickbat, 10 feet long. In 1910 Pete Beretta was killed by a fall of coal which broke his neck. In 1911 Clarence Gilmore, age 37, was crushed to death between the cage and the shaft at the bottom of the mine. The cage had been lowered with a car of mine ties and two track frogs. He was removing the frogs when the cage started up and he was caught. In 1928 James Bartello, age 22, was killed by a fall of slate.
Some lines carried by the store at Mine No. 30 were Hamilton Brown shoes, Globe shirts and overalls, International Stock and Poultry Food, Keen Kutter cutlery and Hardware, Laclede Bicycles, Perfection Oil Stoves, Lucas Paints and Varnishes, Gold Medal and Jersey Cream flour, Groceries, Queensware, Dry Goods and Meats.
There was a school run by the mining camp, located on the east side of Thirty Road. In 1924, the old building became inadequate and was replaced with a more modern two-room structure. The first teachers Misses Dooley and Caylor.
The mine operated until 1926. By the time the mine was discontinued, 340 acres had been mined. I have been at the site and have seen the remains of part of the slag pile with trees growing on the top. The air shaft has been filled in, but its location is apparent. It left a depression about 30 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep.
I am attaching a map of the area around the south part of Centerville to help you to visualize the large amount of coal mining activity and the large areas that were eventually mined out. The map also shows the routed of the Burlington and the Rock Island Railroads as well as the locations of the tipples and the underground area mined for each of the mines in the area.
Starting west of town we begin with the Relay mine of 300 acres, officially the Centerville Block No. 3. Following the Burlington Railroad to the east and south, there is the Anchor No. 1 mine with 70 acres and the Scandinavian mine with its 150 acre underground area going all the way from Cottage St. to Hwy. No. 2. Now skipping to the area just south of Centerville, on the Rock Island Railroad, we have the Center Coal Co. of last week’s article in Section 12, encompassing 330 acres. This mine is labeled National Coal Mining Co. No. 2 and will be discussed next week.
Going east we come to the Thirty Mine in Section 7, being discussed today. It was 340 acres and is labeled Carbon Block Co. No. 30 on the map. On the east side of Centerville the map shows two fairly large mines, the Dewey Coal Co. of 100 acres and the Raven Mine of 60 acres. My calculator shows the total to be 1635 acres or over 2.5 square miles in just eight miles!