Kenilworth on list for reclamation by mining division
Little black bits of history are all over the place around Kenilworth. They are coal fragments left over from the days when pick-and-shovel miners walked north up the hill to the mine portal each day from their little white homes in the company town.
Just about all the other history has been erased since the Independent Coal and Coke Co. shut down more than a half century ago. The ruins of the stone bath house and office are gone, as are the tipple and railroad tracks.
Now the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program is out to finish the job of cleaning up and restoring the land to the way it was back in 1904 when mining began. The program is part of the state's Division of Oil, Gas & Mining, and it has received federal funds to carry out its projects. (Wellington's Knight-Ideal coal loadout reclamation project has been reported in previous editions of the Sun Advocate.)
Anthony Gallegos, senior reclamation engineer for the program, told county commissioners Wednesday that the first step at Kenilworth will be to assess the situation and determine what can and should be done. This will be a little more complicated than the study at Wellington because there are more owners involved in the former mine property, including successor mine companies, Marion Energy coal bed methane wells, and the county itself.
So DOGM is touching bases with all concerned to get their input, Gallegos said. Commissioners were all for the idea of reclamation. At the suggestion of attorney Christian Bryner, they also voted to become "cooperators" in the project, a step up in involvement from simple approval.
The study won't be disruptive, except perhaps for drilling a core sample or two to find out how deep the coal fines go and how much earth and coal will have to be moved to clean up. DOGM will also have to survey the drainage around the old mine and may have to stabilize or realign some of the intermittent stream channels, Gallegos said. This construction, if necessary, will avoid disrupting the Marion wells, he added.
As with the Knight-Ideal project, the plan for Kenilworth is to restore the land plus add a little something extra for the people who will use it. Gallegos said there's money available for interpretive displays or even compilation of oral histories of the mine and community.
Many residents of the old company town refused to move away when the mine shut down decades ago. As they explained in interviews long ago, the town had an astounding view of Castle Country and there were too many good memories and too many friendships to pull up stakes.
As the late Wilene Canto explained once, "This town was just too beautiful to die."