Trends in US Coal Production

  • Coal Production in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Wyoming, 1949-2011
    Coal Production in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Wyoming, 1949-2011
  • US Coal Production by Location, 1949-2011
    US Coal Production by Location, 1949-2011
  • US Coal Production by Method of Extraction, 1949-2011
    US Coal Production by Method of Extraction, 1949-2011
  • US Coal Mine Productivity Trends, 1950-2015
    US Coal Mine Productivity Trends, 1950-2015

The U.S. coal economy underwent significant changes during the late twentieth century in terms of where and how coal was produced. Overall production increased after 1960 in eastern coal mines, with another jump occurring in western mines after 1970. Mining techniques also shifted from underground to surface mining. Despite rising levels of production into the early years of the twenty-first century, popular discourse surrounding coal is often centered on a story of decline brought about by environmental regulations. What do these graphs tell us about the coal industry during the twentieth century? How do the figures presented in these graphs compare to stories you may have heard in the news or other popular discourse about the United States’ coal industry?