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THE MONTANA COAL FIELDS:
THEIR COMMERCIAL VALUE By J. P. ROWE
yT ONTANA \ /1 ranks first XV J. in the
production of copper, fifth in the production of gold, and of the Rocky Mountain States, it ranks third in the production of coal. Its coal area, however, greatly exceeds that of any Western State, and it bids fair to equal Colorado and Wyoming within a few years.
Its coal fields have been mined for more than a quarter of a century, but, owing to the size of the State and the sparsity of its population, the fields have been very slowly developed. In 1880 less than 250 short tons of coal, valued at less than $1,000, were produced in the entire State. In 1903, however, the production amounted to upwards of 1,600,000 tons, valued at over $2,600,000 at the mines. The production for 1904 was a little less, owing to a few shut-downs. That of 1905 is expected to exceed the output of any previous year.
More than $6,000,000 are now invested in the coal properties of Montana; nearly 3,000 men are employed, receiving salaries amounting to nearly $2,000,000 annually. The average number of days each miner works during a
year is about 245. However, the mines at a few places are working alternate days. There are now 550 finished coke-ovens and 100 others partially finished. In 1901 over 57,000 tons of coke were produced in the State, valued at about $360,000 at the ovens. In 1904 the production was about 30,000 tons of coke.
The coal fields may be divided into three general groups: First, the Eastern or Plains Cretaceous Lignites� covering more than half of Montana. Second, the Metamorphosed or Middle Mountainous Cretaceous Deposits�including semi-bituminous, bituminous, semi-anthracite and coking coals�running northwest-southeast across the State. Third, the extreme Western or Tertiary or Neocene Lake Beds Lignite, embracing almost the entire width of the State. In each of these general groups many mines are now in operation.
The most productive area is the Middle Metamorphosed group, which furnishes all the coke and practically all the coal. It is divided into ten fields, as follows :
(1) Fiathead: Flathead County (North, Middle, and South Forks). 2. Great Falls: Teton County( Choteau) ; Lewis and Clark County (Augusta) ; Cascade County (Sand Coulee, Belt and Stockett) ; Fergus County; Meagher County (Northwest Corner,
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