I visited with Andrew Ragona recently, and he told me the story as described above. He said that the Ragona Mine had a cap rock above the coal that had to be blasted to get to the coal. It produced exceptionally good coal, and the Centerville Brickyard bought all their coal from the Ragona Mine for their kilns. Andrew proudly showed me his father’s certification by the Board of Examiners as Pit Boss, which meant the supervision of everything that happened below ground, abiding by safety rules.
Andrew also told me about the miners’ pensions that were available in the later years. This was a separate deal from the Black Lung payments. To receive the pension, a miner had to have worked for 20 years in the mines. He also had to have worked for the last two years or eight quarters. Some of the older miners, who lost their jobs because a mine had closed, had moved away so did not meet the latter requirement. This forced them to come back and work in another mine for a short time to be able to receive their pension.
The next mine was the Silver King Coal Co. on the east side of Old Highway No. 5, immediately north of Cooper Creek. There is a trucking operation there now. It operated from 1935 to 1942 and covered 18 acres. The Silver King was a Swedish operation with many of the miners coming from Swedetown. Being so near Cooper Creek, the mine developed severe water problems, which ended the operation.