Colorado Fuel and Iron: Company Mines

Maxwell Coal Mine

Location: Las Animas County, Colorado
Years of Operation: 1977-1981
Total Production (tons): 957,281
 The development of the Maxwell Mine began in February of 1976, and was the last mine to be opened in Las Animas county. The initial work was carried out by contractor company called The Industrial Company. The first shaft was sunk twenty foot wide inclined slope at negative sixteen point seven degrees. This allowed the shaft to angle one thousand four hundred feet under the coal seam. The targeted coal seam was roughly seven feet thick.

Inside the slope a forty eight inch conveyor belt sat to retrieve the coal collected back to the surface. Along side the conveyor was a four foot rail car system for the movement of cars for men and material supplies. Thirty inch wide conveyor belts were brought near all mining surfaces to move the mined material back to the main conveyor belt. The mine had two fourteen foot diameter ventilation shafts which operated as air intake and exhaust removal. There was a diesel powered rope hoist connected to a capsule in the main shaft for emergency rescue as well, but it was not sued while the property was operated by CF&I.

Development of the mine was carried out by a Lee Norse 386 continuous miner feeding the mined coal into one of two Joy 10SC shuttle cars. Which took the coal to a Stamler feed breaker machine that deposited the broken coal onto the main conveyor. In addition to the mining equipment a Airdox twin drill, roofing machine was used to add roof supports.   As well two auxiliary fans were used for ventilation.

The continuous miner would operate with five foot cuts on each pass. Allowing for a ten foot opening per mining cycle. The width of the passages for the continuous miner were sixteen feet.  The rotating cutting head would up and down the coal face. The Broken coal would fall onto the chain conveyors and move the coal to the shuttle car.  After each ten foot advance from the continuous miner the unit would be moved to another entry. As the continuous miner worked the new entry roof bolting and stabilizing would take place in the freshly opened area. This process did not only consist in bolting the roof but also steel beams and timber propers where required. The roof bolter would drill on five foot centers and six foot long bolts with resin shells to hold steel straps in place against the top. The rotation of the bolts caused the resin to seep from the bolt and cement the bolt, tie and rock together. 

Rock dusting to suppress coal dust occurred regularly as the mining units advanced. The Maxwell Mine operated on a three shift system, most of the dead work being left for the graveyard shift. Large quantities of Timber, concrete blocks (for air stoppings) and steel beams were used daily. 

Surface facilities at the mine included a combination office and warehouse, as well as changing rooms with showers. There was also a large storage house for supplies and materials. As well there was a building to house and hoist  for the materials mined as well as the miners There was also the Bradford Breaker building which broke the coal into more manageable. After breaking the coal it was stored in a two thousand ton storage bin until it could be loaded into one hundred ton rail cars. Maxwell mine on average filled between twenty and twenty five cars a day.

According to records in 1980's twenty five administrative staff and around one hundred and forty workers were employed at the Maxwell Mine. By November of 1981 the Mine suspended all operations due to the Steelworks shutdown. On December 16th of 1983 the Maxwell mine along with the Allen mine were sold to the Wyoming Fuel Company for forty million dollars.


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