ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A train went off the rails Monday near Albers, Illinois. There are reports of mine subsidence in the area. It isn’t clear if the crumbling underground caverns are connected to the crash. But, it is worth exploring where the old mines are located in Missouri and Illinois. The cracking or sagging ground has damaged homes, businesses, roads, and schools.
Missouri and Illinois have a lot of maps of the old mines. Studying what lies under the Land of Lincoln is noteworthy because of the extent of mines under the state. There are over 800,000 acres across Illinois that have been undermined for coal.
Illinois has a great tool to see where old mines are. You can look up a specific address using the interactive Illinois Coal Mines Viewer from the state geological survey. The digital map shows where there were mining operations under many cities and towns.
There are also links to specific regions to provide more detail. Detailed maps show the extent of active and abandoned coal mines. For example, a St. Clair County map shows many abandoned mines near Belleville, Collinsville, and Fairview Heights.
Why are there so many mines under Illinois? Well, the state is one of the largest coal producers in the nation. The state currently produces 5.9% of all coal in the nation. Unfortunately, all of that mining has created underground caverns that can collapse.
In 2015, several homes were evacuated in Benld, Illinois because of mine subsidence. An elementary school in the same town had to be replaced because of the collapsing mine. It is located in Macoupin County, Illinois.
The Show-Me-State produces far less coal than Illinois (producing .3% of the US total), but there are large deposits in the northwest portions of the state. Missouri is among the top coal consumers in the United States. Not all coal reserves are recoverable because of competing land uses, property rights, and other restrictions.
There are plenty of abandoned mines dotting the state. The Department of Natural Resources has an interactive map that outlines their locations. You can see them here.
One of the more interesting maps provided by the state of Missouri shows the location of old coal and clay mines in St. Louis. You can see them listed in many familiar neighborhoods in a chart from 1987. Many of them were located along the Mississippi River, Downtown, and just south of Forest Park.
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