Sunday in Iowa

This mural is on the back of the Melcher Heritage Coal Mining Museum building in Melcher-Dallas, Iowa.  Coal mining in Iowa was active from about 1870 to 1940; commercial mining was started to provide coal for the railroads, and most of the mines were owned by the railroad companies.   Many settlements and towns in this area were started by the coal companies.
There are many abandoned coal mines, both strip mines and shaft mines, throughout central and southeastern Iowa, and many early settlers were Welsh and English coal miners and their families recruited from Virginia and Ohio.  My husband's grandfathers on both sides  were listed in early census records as coal miners. 


  1. The town by our farm, Lucas Iowa was started by a coal mine company called White Breast Coal Mining Company. The mine was a very big one at one time and employed several hundred people. The mine was called Cleveland # 1. There was also a town and coal mine that used to be right across the gravel road to our farm. The mine was called Cleveland #4, not sure what was the name of the town. It operated from about 1890 to 1910 and at one time had several saloons and churches, a grocery and hardware store, a school and post office. When the mined closed in 1910 the town slowly dried up and today all that you can see left of it is where the coal mine entrance was. Everything else has been torn down.

  2. This kind of stuff interest me to no end so I went to look it up to make sure I got it right so here are some corrections. The town name that was right across from my farm was called New Cleveland. The mine closed in 1908 and the post office ran until 1913.

    The town of Lucas wasn't started by a coal company but really grew after the Whitebreast Coal and Mining company started a mine 2 miles east of there and a town was started called Cleveland Iowa. The mine was called Big Hill top mine.

  3. My great grandfather, Thomas Watson, was the "weighmaster" for the Whitebreast Coal Company in the 1880s. He moved his family to Kansas City Kansas and took up farming.


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