Uncertain and treacherous: The cannel coal industry in Kentucky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The mining of cannel coal was a small, but prestigious, component of the coal production of Kentucky in the 1800's and early 1900's. Cannel coal was retorted into liquid fuel, gasified as an enricher of municipal gas supplies, and distilled as a feedstock for the production of chemicals. Each peak in usage was subsequently tempered by a discovery of cheaper sources of liquid hydrocarbons. Four mining areas in Kentucky, three in eastern Kentucky and one in western Kentucky, will be discussed. The Breckenridge deposit in western Kentucky was developed as early as 1837 and came to prominence in the 1850's and, to a lesser extent, in the 1880's. The Johnson County deposits were developed in the 1880's and continued in production through the 1920's. The Bell County cannels were developed in the 1890's. Although highly praised for their quality, they had a brief mining history because of the limited extent of the reserves. The most prolific cannel field, Morgan County, was opened in 1901 and continued to be a large producer, albeit with some low-production years, through the 1950's, with minor production as late as 1987. The production of cannel, as with any mineral commodity, was at the mercy of market demands and available transportation. Cannel coal, more than banded bituminous coal, occurs in relatively limited areas, leading to the rapid exhaustion of commercial deposits as well as failed attempts to develop deposits that did not attain commercial size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-324
Number of pages15
JournalNonrenewable Resources
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1995


  • Cannel coal
  • Kentucky
  • Resource depletion
  • Resource development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Uncertain and treacherous: The cannel coal industry in Kentucky'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this