Newcastle Coal Mines
One the first coal mines in the District
An e-mail asked if I had any information on the Newcastle mines. I responded that I did not, but I was aware of it. In subsequent investigations, I learned more.
Then, one day an email arrived from Ted McCormack, stating that his family had operated the Newcastle mines for a number of years, and that he had some images he would share.
After corresponding with Ted and doing some research I wrestled with where to put Newcastle in the website organization. The more I have learned, the more that I think it deserves a separate place, so here it is.
Newcastle mines apparently began as the Milner mine, founded by John T. Milner, the civil engineer that located the South and North RR and helped to found the city of Birmingham.
Milner purchased property north of Birmingham, in Jefferson County, and developed it with mines and a rail line. This property was sold to investors who were involved with the Richmond and Danville (Georgia Pacific) rail interests, which eventually became the Southern Railroad. These properties became known as Coalburg.
From the Coalburg area, Milner purchased more land to the northeast, still in Jefferson County, and on the north side of Birmingham. According to White, in Birmingham District, in 1884, Milner purchased 2,000 acres of land along the main line of the L&N RR near New Castle. Milner retired to this location and began active development of the mines.
According to Armes, in 1873, Milner started the Newcastle Mines in defense of his promotions of the Birmingham District. In the financial panic of 1873, Milner was publicly rebuked by Albert Fink of the Lousville and Nashville Railroad who told Milner that his vision of for the District was a sham. Thus, according to Armes, Milner started mining at Newcastle to show that there was in fact value to be found in the Birmingham District.
It is not clear which of these accounts is more correct. Maybe Milner began mining on a small scale in 1873 and later increased his holdings with the purchase of the 2,000 acres in 1884. What is clear, is that the general area north of Birmingham in Coalburg, Lewisburg, New Castle and Warrior were some of the earliest mines in the District. The other early developments were in the Cahaba basin in Shelby County.
Other business interests developed the Mary Lee properties, at what later became Lewisburg, and then Fultondale. Newcastle is located beyond Lewisburg to the northeast on the main line of the L&N RR, the main line that Milner laid out in the first place. These locations are shown in the 1892 map above.