Prof. Hitchcock's late Geological Report on the Coal fields of Bristol, Mass., states some interesting facts. It has long been known, he says, that coal exists in Rhode Island, and the southern part ol Massachusetts. Geologists have been slow to settle its exact position in the geological scale. It is a genuine coal field *of the carboniferous series, however, and is of the same age as the great coal deposits in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio. The only difference seems to be that the Massachusetts coal field has undergone a change, occasioned by the action of the fire. The strata seem to have been subjected to lateral pressure, which has thrown them into undulations. The coal field covers an area of some five hundred square miles, and has been wrought in fifteen or twenty different localities, but generally without a remunerating profit. In the instance of the Mansfield Coal and Mining Company, a shaft of ten feet in diameter has been sunk to the depth of 171 feet, at the bottom of which they have driven a tunnel laterally to the distance of over 700 feet, with branches and other tunnels of an equal distance. In sinking the shaft and driving the tunnel, they passed through sixteen or seventeen layers, of coal, varying from one to seven feet in thickness. From one of the tunnels 2,500 tons of anthracite coal of a fair qua-1 ity have been extracted, although the Company have sunk in the operations $100,000. There are three modes of ascertaining the existence of coal iu a series of strata. One of these only has been employed in Massachusetts, viz. : that of sinking a shaft and then carrying tunnels across the strata. The second method is to cut a trench through the loose deposits over the rocks, and the third is by boring. The people in Massachusetts know but little about the expenses which some of the proprietors of the coal mines in England have incurred in sinking shafts to the depth of 1Q0 fathoms (600 feet), and there is one which, if we recollect aright, is 1200 feet deep.
This article was originally published with the title "Massachusetts Coal" in Scientific American 8, 30, 234 (April 1853)