THE COALS OF THE GREAT KANAWHA REGION, As we shall specially describe, are of various constituencies, and are adaptable to all the requirements of the trades and manufactures. The hard and caking, with the fat and gaseous bituminous, the variable splint, and the rich and oily cannel, are all found in the same mountains, and are all accessible to the miner and to navigation, through the agencies of the eroding waters, which have exposed coal in a thousand places.
The avenues to markets afford the cheapest and most available trans portation on navigable rivers; while the markets themselves are unlimited in extent, and rapidly increasing their consumption.
The whole valley of the Mississippi is open beyond controlling com petition to the trade and the production of this region, while the present avenues to the East and the commerce of the world are but little less available than from the older and more developed centres, with this ad vantage ever open to the Kanawha region,—that a route may be con structed having every advantage over the most favorable avenues of trade now open from the East to the West.
This is, therefore, the natural mining and manufacturing centre not only of West Virginia, but of the Great Alleghany coal-field; and had the Virginians any share of free enterprise and energy, Charleston would long ago have been a formidable rival to Pittsburg.
Looking to the natural results of location and availability, now that this magnificent region is open to free labor and a corresponding develop ment, we may anticipate for Charleston the dignity of the State capital at no very distant day, or, what may be better, the metropolis of the mining and manufacturing interests of the West..
Coal River, Elk River, and Gauley diverge from the Great Kanawha and spread their branches over one of the richest and most magnificent coal-regions in the world, and bring down their wealth to one common centre on the Great Kanawha; or such might and may be the result under future developments.
The coals of this region, generally, are better, purer, and more available for all the requirements of trade and manufacture than the coals of any other portion of the Alleghany coal-field. The seams of coal are more numerous and their thickness greater than in any other portion of this coal-field; it can be mined cheaper and with more economy generally, under the same rates of labor, than in any other region in this country without exception. The markets of the West, or the great Ohio and
Mississippi Valleys, are open beyond any controlling competition to the trade of the Kanawha in coal, oil, salt, iron, and lumber. Charleston is 200 miles nearer Cincinnati than Pittsburg, and always open to naviga tion; while the Ohio to Pittsburg is frequently closed by ice in the winter and interrupted by low water in the summer. The principal volume of the great and rapidly increasing trade of the West may be diverted to the seaports of the East, via the Kantwha Valley, with much economy in time and transporting power.
We do not make these remarks as invidious comparisons. Nothing we can say will detract from Pittsburg; nor do we wish to say one word against that noble city and her vast resources. We only wish we could say to the helpless, dilatory Virginians, "Go ye and do likewise;" and we would willingly show them the way.
The geological reports on the coals of West Virginia make the number of workable seams to be 13; but 14 have been developed on the dividing ridge between the waters of the Great Kanawha and Coal Rivers, on a line with Lenn's Creek, and in all probability these are all below the Pittsburg seam. But here every seam appears to have reached a maximum size for the bituminous formations. While B and E are not as large as found in a few other localities, the intervening seams, which in other portions of the field are of no commercial or workable value, are here found in workable size, or from 2 to 3 feet in diameter. The. number of workable seams are greater than those found within the same measures in Pennsylvania any place, not excepting the anthracite fields, though the total amount of coal is less than that which is found at many points in the anthracite regions. But were we to count all the seams, both small and large, in the western part of the anthracite measures, they would correspond nearly with the coal-seams found on the Great Kanawha. We have stated our belief, however, that the cannel coal-seams have no counterpart in the anthracite regions,—that they appear within the rich bituminous shale, which does not exist in the Eastern measures; and, consequently, three of the nume rous seams in the Kanawha section are thus accounted for.