This page is referenced by:
Morley Coal Mine
OverviewLocation: Las Animas County, ColoradoYears of Operation: 1906-1956Total Production (tons): 11,057,259
The Morley Mine located at Raton Pass twelve miles south of Trinidad Colorado started in 1906. The Mine was named after William Raymond Morley who worked as a "Locator" for the AT & SF Railroad. The Location prior to operation under the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company was known as the Katchina Mine and also as the Swastika mine.Early work on the Mine began in 1906, yet in 1907 the mine entrances on constructed on the eastern side Raton Creek began producing Coal in 1907 which were accessed through drift entrances. The CSCo. store was established December 10th of 1906. CF&I also established a Church and school on site . The school offering education up to the eighth grade.
Early production coal from the Morley Mine was sold mainly as fuel for locomotives, yet was branded for sale as Steam coal for other uses as well.The Coal produced broke into large lumps and contained very little sulfur or Phosphorus. with the advent of diesel locomotives the Morley Steam coal was turned over to the Pueblo Steelworks Coke Plant, as well as to Steam powered Gas Plants.
After exhausting the eastern side of the Morley Coal seam work began on the western side of the coal seam. The coal production on the western side however was harder work than that done on the eastern. The Coal was gassier, and required significant reduction in electric trams or mining machinery. Due to this mules were used in place of electric trams for transportation of the coal from site, and most of the mining was by Pick. The methane produced in the mine working prevented other forms of mining and also prevented the use of explosives. which forced the construction of the mine to use the room and Pillar format.
The coal seam itself settled upon Trinidad sand stone and varied between four and eight feet thick. The Morley coal seam is also the lowest found within the area. The Morley Slope access to the western side was five thousand four hundred feet in length, and had a pitch of 15%-26% for the first two thousand eight hundred feet. The Coal pulled from the mine by cart with mule often required a team of up to seven mules. Each haul consisted of twenty carts pulled to the main slope.
Morley Mine by 1927, employed five hundred and forty workers and one hundred and thirty four mules. Morley had one hundred and twenty seven families in residence where other employees lived in the surrounding areas or in Trinidad itself. Traveling to Morley was made easier by automobile or even Train by that point. Clean domestic water was provided to the homes of Morley and also by Hydrant. Electricity was provided originally by CF&I but eventually phased over to REA. YMCA established a clubhouse for Morley residents that was taken over by the Industrial Relations Department in 1948 when CF&I severed ties with the Organization. According to the publication CF&I Blast of February 3rd 1950 each mule was fed sixteen pounds of oats each day plus all the hay it could eat. Having so many animals on site produced its own concerns such as needing a stable boss, and handlers to help manage the needs of the animals.
Once the coal reached the surface it was dumped into a tipple which sorted the coal based on size and allowed for pouring of the selected coal from either side allowing for filling two rail-cars at a time. By the 1950's however the closure of Morley was a forgone conclusion, as the labor to production ratio was heavily scaled towards labor. That paired with the opening of The Allen Mine 1951 replaced the coal production required for the Pueblo Steelworks.
Morley Mine was officially closed May 4th 1956. Ninety homes remained at Morley most of which were empty. At the time the mine closed there were one hundred and fifty employees.Over the fifty years Morley operated it produced 11,057,259 tons of coal, making it one of the largest coal mines operated by CF&I.
As with any mining the work was often dangerous and accidents and disasters often occurred. CF&I kept records of all accidents and employed artists to render sketches of accidents to help complete their records. Below is one such sketch and explanation of an accident.