Diamondville got its name from the quality of the superior-grade coal from the local mines that seemed to resemble black diamonds.
In 1868, a man by the name of Harrison church discovered coal near the Hams Fork River. He built a cabin on the hill where part of modern Diamondville now stands. Realizing the area’s potential, he sought financial backing from a group in Minneapolis, who eventually formed the Hams Fork River Coal Company, incorporated in 1884. Later S.F. Fields, a promoter from Salt Lake City, Utah, took over management of the company and with the financial backing of the Anaconda Mining Company, renamed it the Diamond Coal & Coke Company.
Over the course of time the development of a western coal mine evolved from digging out and hauling coal by hand from an outcrop or tunnel to today’s mechanical monsters of the plains.
Draglines and truck and shovel operations now remove up to several hundred feet of overburden in order to expose the coal. Conveyor belts and haul trucks transport hundreds of tons each minute to sophisticated automated silos that evenly distribute carefully measured loads onto unit trains. A man used to be paid by the number of tons he dug; today what took days of back breaking labor to dig can be moved in a matter of seconds by a single shovel operator.
The uses for coal have also changed, chunks of coal used to be burned in old stokers and forges for heating purposes. Today coal is crushed, pulverized and sprayed into furnaces to generate steam which is then used to generate electricity. Synthetic fuels or “synfuels” are also generated from Wyoming coal. Currently only a very small percentage of Wyoming’s coal is used as form coke in steel manufacturing.
In the 1860’s steam engines were starting to use coal instead of wood. The recognition of the western coal resource potential had only begun. Also, coal’s high Btu ( British Thermal Units ) made it more favorable to burn than wood. The benefits of using coal were that it increased horsepower, increased the distance that steam engines of the time could travel and was readily available. Wyoming’s abundance of coal and general topography in conjunction with the ongoing Civil War served as deciding factors on the choice of the northern route across southern Wyoming for the Transcontinental railroad.
There are four main steps to mining coal
Coal must be broken away from the face of the coal seam.
In the early mines picks were used to break the coal away from the face, then holes were drilled in the face and dynamite was into the hole and detonated (1900 – 1950).
Coal must be gathered up and loaded into a conveyance to hual it out of the mine.
In the first mines, coal was gathered up and loaded by hand with a coal shovel into the car.
Coal has to be transprted out of the mine.
The first coal cars were pushed out of the mine by hand, then mules were used to pull the cars.
The coal is prepared and delivered to the consumer.
In the early mines the coal was brought out of the mine in big chunks and loaded onto a horse-drawn wagon.