As you will see, the coal industry has a rich history and Coal Age was there every step of the way. It begins as a weekly in late 1911. In the 1920s, advertising appears for the first time and in the 1930s, it converts to a monthly magazine. They say a trade journal reflects the industry it covers and, during some periods, the magazine is 300 pages thick, while at other times it becomes worrisome thin. Through thick and thin, Coal Age covers the industry and all of those that influence it: the industrial magnates, the railroads, the oil companies, organized labor, politicians, regulators, etc.
So, what have we learned from all of this? The coal business not only depends on the weather, it’s a lot like the weather—wait a while and circumstances will change. Coal Age offered retrospectives in 1936 (25 years), 1961 (50 years) and 1986 (75 years). Readers can find all three in the archives at: www.CoalAge.com. Each time the editors composed one those pieces, it seemed the coal industry was about to face a period of weakness—the same place we stand today. Time and again, production builds to a crescendo and then falls back dramatically. Coal is constantly competing with other fuels. Even though it is abundant; it’s not always dependable. On more than one occasion, the energy market is King Coal’s for the taking and he seems to shoot himself in the foot every time. Politics change with times too. In the 1980s, the coal industry favored Democrats in coal states because they fought against acid rain legislation; today its favors Republicans because they support environmental policy based on science.
There are a few constants throughout the timeline as well. More pages of Coal Age are dedicated to John L. Lewis than any other subject. Love him or hate him, he is steadfast and never corrupted. Another reoccurring theme is CONSOL Energy’s leadership in safety, the advancement of coal mining technology, and as a labor negotiator. Consolidation Coal Co. was one of a handful of companies that were already present when Coal Age was founded. That is the reason we asked to profile the Bailey Complex as the cover story for this edition. It discusses the company’s renewed dedication to safety and serves as a benchmark for the advances the underground coal industry has made.
If one were to set all of the publications side by side, the Coal Age shelf would need to be at least 60-ft long. Honestly, trying to compress that information into 100 pages would not do the magazine justice. The other three anniversary issues provide timelines with pain-staking detail in some cases. Rather than recreate the wheel, for the first 75 years we let the pages of Coal Age highlight the history. The last 25 years, however, have not been chronicled, so readers will notice the retrospective finishes with a different chronological cadence.
Thank you for your continued loyalty and support over the years. Thank you for allowing us to bring the world of coal onto your desk or into your home. Enjoy this edition of Coal Age. Hold onto it, it will be a collector’s item.
Steve Fiscor, Coal Age Editor-In-Chief