# Shenandoah Division Question

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sat Jul 22 16:25:50 EDT 2017

```A company I worked for in 1974, Seaboard Fuels, was 25% owned by Jack Osborne of Bluefield, WV.  Jack inherited the N&W plant and coal properties at Williamson, WV from his father.  His father in 1956 bought the plant and coal leases from N&W RR.

The plant across the Tug River from Williamson, WV was a coarse coal only plant.  The fine coal below 3/8" in size was not washed.  I think the coal analyses quoted by other writers are for the washed stoker coal (1 /1/4" X 3/8" size).  The carbon (3/8" X 9) was much lower in BTU and often hard to place to a utility customer due to the low BTU.

During the 1974 coal boom I remember well the last cars exiting Osborne Mining.  In October 1974 Jack loaded out the ponds and it took two locomotives to pull 9 cars up the slight grade from the plant to the Pond Creek mainline.  These were the heaviest cars ever loaded on account to Seaboard Fuels.  The net weight was about 145 tons per car.  I suspect the utility had a fun time trying to burn this "coal".

The last of the month of October, 1974 Seaboard Fuel bought the last cars of washed stoker coal that were shipped during the coal boom.  Walt Ratliff, VP of Seaboard, asked Jack what he wanted for the coal.  Jack said "Oh \$120 a ton."  Walt bought it and resold it for \$144 per ton.  This was the top of the market.  The next month for 13,000 BTU steam coal, the price to Seaboard Fuels was \$15.00 from a large steel company and we could buy all we wanted at \$13.00

If you look up the price for a new car in 1974 a Buick was about \$3,000.  You can do the math and figure out what \$120 per ton for washed coal in 1974 equates to in current inflation adjusted dollars.  At an average of 90 tons per car Jack got about \$10,800 net per carload in 1974.  The car would be worth about \$75,000 per load in current 2017 dollars.

Charles Carlton

CHARLES O. CARLTON

ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

PIKE RECLAMATION & DEVELOPMENT CO, INC.

FOUNDED IN 1996

P.O. BOX 339

131 MAIN STREET, 3RD FLOOR

PIKEVILLE, KY  41501

(606) 213-9043
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