Jamestown spared in 1906 coal shortage

There was a coal shortage across the Northern Plains in the winter of 1906-1907. It seemed the worst across northern North Dakota but impacted the entire state.

It wasn’t caused by excessive naughtiness, resulting in many children receiving coal in their stockings for Christmas. Most blamed the shortage on a lack of rail cars to transport the fuel from the mines to the ultimate users.

The shortage was so dire in some communities that schools closed because no coal was available to heat the classrooms. Some flour mills also shut down because they had no coal to fire the steam engines that turned the mill wheels.

The railroads said they weren’t to blame for the problem.

Well, actually, the Northern Pacific said it announced during the summer that it anticipated a shortage of cars to transport coal that fall. It wasn’t their fault that none of the North Dakota coal dealers stockpiled coal before the shortage.

Some communities in North Dakota called on the governor to activate the National Guard to operate dedicated coal trains to North Dakota.

Other towns contacted communities where coal was available to bag some of it up in 50-pound gunny sacks and ship it as a parcel to their town.

A.J. Gronna, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Dakota, took time to deliver a letter asking for help to President Theodore Roosevelt. He referred the letter to the Interstate Commerce Commission which resulted in an investigation, if not a solution.

Jamestown didn’t seem to suffer in the coal shortage. Maybe it was the city’s position on the mainline of the Northern Pacific or maybe the coal dealers here stocked up during summer.

Either way, nobody had to rob their naughty child’s stocking for a little fuel to keep the home warm.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at


This article was originally published by a www.jamestownsun.com . Read the Original article here. .