Coal for Home Heating

Most modern homes are heated with electricity or natural gas during cold weather. However, coal was once the fuel of choice for Nebraska homeowners. The comfort of one’s family during the winter depended upon access to a ready supply. The Lincoln Trade Review of November 22, 1902, described one of Lincoln’s busiest coal dealers and his yards, as well as the types of coal available to the public:

“November weather brings the coal question to mind and the magnitude of this branch of trade and the vast amount of coal consumed in Lincoln annually is scarcely understood and appreciated. Among the principal Lincoln dealers who, in addition to a very extensive city trade, sell carload lots to trade in the state, is Charles B. Gregory, whose city office is at 1044 O street, where for twenty-two years a city coal office has been maintained. Mr. Gregory commenced active business in the coal trade eleven years ago and he has, besides ten splendid years of trade, the satisfaction of now enjoying the best year’s trade of all-a trade three times as extensive as that of the first year’s.” Gregory was so well known in the coal business that in September 1897 he participated in a local parade in honor of a GAR reunion in Lincoln, riding in a buggy at the head of a long procession of his coal delivery wagons.

“A visit to Mr. Gregory’s coal yards, located at Fourteenth and Y streets, on both sides of Fourteenth, would impress one with the comfort that there is no perceptible danger of a coal famine in Lincoln. The yards have some fifty storage bins, with a capacity under cover of upward of two hundred cars of coal. . . . Elkhorn and Missouri Pacific trackage enters these yards and switching facilities for quick handling are excellent. Two platform scales are in service for weighing. At the yards J. C. Kear is foreman, with an office clerk and four yard men. An average of fifteen teams are employed through the season in delivering. One thousand cords of wood were handled and sold by Mr. Gregory last year and upward of 600 cars of domestic coal.

“While steam coal is handled extensively, the largest effort has been made to build up the domestic trade of the city, and sales of anthracite are very heavy. Coal from Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, Indian Territory, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado and Wyoming in a half hundred varieties and sizes are handled and kept in stock. Mr. Gregory gives especial attention to his Carterville, Illinois, coal, a thoroughly honest coal and one of the very best heating coals on the market, which now retails for $6 per ton. Another coal given much attention is his Glen Rock, Wyoming, coal, which comes from mines near Casper. . . . The keeping qualities of Glen Rock coal are excellent and the price at retail is $5.75 per ton.”

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