The Sebewaing Michigan Coal Mines

The discovery of coal in Sebewaing was made by Russell Brothers; well diggers based in Unionville. By the early 1900’s Sebewaing had three coal mines in operation. The Whittier, Sebewaing Coal Company and the Saginaw Bay Coal Company collectively employed about 100 men. Coal was brought to the surface on small mule driven cars on wooden tracks.

Coal mining was successful for only a few years. It seems that initially, the coal was of high quality however as operations continued it seems that the extracted coal contained so much sulfur it was deemed too explosive to be used as a fuel. Thomas Whitter, a chemist from Saginaw inspected the coal vein and found it an excellent source of pyrite and comparable with the pyrite sources then being imported from Spain. Changes were made to the operation that expanded mining capacity to 400 tons per day. Pyrite ore is an excellent material in which to make sulfur.

The mines around Sebewaing were only two of eight coal mines located in the Saginaw Bay region. The coal strikes were usually recorded by those drilling exploratory wells looking for salt brine. The veins of coal were from 3 to six feet and the deepest was found at 350 feet. 

Other Coal Mines

  • Bay Coal Mining Company
  • Saginaw Coal Company
  • J. H. Somers Coal Company
  • The Verne Mine
  • Standard Mining Company
  • Hampton Coal Mining Company
  • Saginaw Valley Mining Co

Below is a sketch map of the location of the mines in and around Sebewaing.

Coal Sites

Sources Consulted

Photo Credit: Historical Society of Caseville Lower Peninsula, 1896-1900, Volume 7, Parts 1-3, By Michigan. Geological Survey


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Mike Hardy

Mike Hardy is a Marketing Information Technology Manager and author of a fun-loving blog covering topics of the Upper Thumb of Michigan. Starting in 2009, he authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 15,000 visitors per month. Mike welcomes your feedback, which can be found on Thumbwinds, "About" page.

5 Responses

  1. I wasn’t aware Michigan mined for coal.

    • Dianne Schulz says:

      Unionville curve by the Gateway Gun Club has always been referred asThe coal mine corner. There are tunnels that run for several miles underground in that area. The water is salty in that area, and some say it is because of those coal mines.

      • This is so interesting for us to learn. Thank you Dianne. We find it something how our next door neighbor has this and we weren’t fully aware. So refreshing to learn new things.

  2. markwrummel says:

    Thanks, Thumbwind – fascinating. I grew up in Sebewaing and knew we had coal mines around the 1900s, but I’ve never seen this photo and didn’t know that much of the story. We’re sharing your post on the “You Know You Are From Sebewaing…” Facebook Page.

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