Letter, J.G. Puterbaugh of the McAlester Fuel Company to Gov. John E. Martineau
Located mostly in the Arkansas River Valley area of the state, coal mines in Arkansas produced over 106 million tons of coal between 1880 and 2006, with the peak of the mining production arriving in the early 1900s. By the 1920s coal production in the state was declining, thanks to the rising popularity of natural gas and fuel oil or petroleum.
This letter is a report from J.G. Puterbaugh of the McAlester Fuel Company, to Governor John Martineau on the state of coal production in Arkansas. Mr. Puterbaugh’s report focuses on the struggles of the mines to make a profit, the causes of which he claims are not only the competition from other sources, but the cost of labor as well. To this end he spends a large amount of his letter discussing the typical wages of miners in Oklahoma and other coal producing states, as well as conflicts with the United Mine Workers organization over wage negotiations. He provides a unique look into a company’s view of a declining industry.
There are several generations of coal miners in my family. Although they were based in Ohio and not Arkansas I have always been interested in the way the industry worked. I find the company’s struggle to determine a course of action in the face of declining profit and production relevant to today’s discussions about fuel production and use. The letter also serves as a sort-of chronicle of the industry shift in Arkansas from union-only mines or “closed shops” to non-union mines or “open shops,” at least from the owner side of things. - Lauren Jarvis
Little Rock, Pulaski County. (Ark.)
John E. Martineau Papers, Box 6, Folder 176
Tales from the Vault - Celebrating 110 Years
Arkansas State Archives
Letter, J.G. Puterbaugh of the McAlester Fuel Company to Gov. John E. Martineau, John E. Martineau Papers, Box 6, Folder 176, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas
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