Coal Mine Terminology

The Appalachian coal fields are rich in lore, legend and infamy. Here are some common terms used from the hey-day of Appalachian Coal Mines.

    Afterdamp- Toxic fumes that occur after an explosion within a mine. Residual gases often include: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, often hydrogen sulfide and other poisonous substances.
    Blackdamp- Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, a combination of suffocating gases found in mines.
    Coke- A product produced by burning off volatile elements in coal. Coke was shipped to steel and iron mills.
    Company Store- A general store or mercantile where goods were sold to employees at mining camps.
    Coal Dock- Small mines sent truck loads of coal to the trainyard. The dock was used so trucks could unload their coal into the train cars.
    Coal Dust- Flammable particles of coal created by blasting and general mining. Coal dust often caused many catastrophic explosions when ignited from fireshot or open flame laterns.
    Fireshot or Shot- Black powder- When mine walls were cut (a.k.a. undercut) miners would then drill holes into the wall. The openings would be stuffed with black powder and detonated. The explosion blasted out new coal.
    Firedamp- Methane gas. This highly explosive gas is often hidden in pockets when mining.
    Lantern- Kerosene lamps were often taken into the mines when no electricity was present.

A complete list of these terms can be found at the House of Horror.


About admin

I am a published fiction author and non-fiction writer. More on my writing can be found at: My obscure history and folklore website is, and my Appalachian history and folklore website is View all posts by admin

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