How was coal production improved in the Industrial Revolution?

During the Industrial Revolution, technology for the production of coal improved with the invention of steam-powered excavators, safer lamps, pit props, and ventilation. More railroads and canals allowed coal to reach new markets more quickly and inexpensively than before.

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The demand for coal increased exponentially during the Industrial Revolution. As the fuel for steam engines and steel forges, it was necessary to mine, process, and transport vast amounts of coal during this period.

Before the Industrial Revolution, coal production was limited. Coal mines were generally simple pits in the...

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The demand for coal increased exponentially during the Industrial Revolution. As the fuel for steam engines and steel forges, it was necessary to mine, process, and transport vast amounts of coal during this period.

Before the Industrial Revolution, coal production was limited. Coal mines were generally simple pits in the ground from which limited amounts of coal were extracted by miners with simple tools.

Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the production of coal soared. In order to meet the growing demand, extraction techniques had to improve. In Great Britain, for instance, more deep shaft mines were dug to reach coal far below the surface. In the early eighteenth century, innovations in pit props, wooden structures that supported the ceilings of mines, allowed miners to delve deeper than previously.

The pace of industrial progress often went hand in hand with the development of improved coal mining techniques. By the early nineteenth century, steam-powered excavators allowed for faster, larger, and somewhat safer mining processes. Steam-driven fans helped circulate air, making it safer to breathe in the mines. Specialized enclosed lamps allowed miners to see in dark mine shafts without the risk of triggering dangerous explosions in the methane-rich air.

It wasn't enough to simply mine the coal. It had to be taken to cities, refineries, and factories. Transporting it by road was slow, expensive, and cumbersome. Over the course of the Industrial Revolution, transportation technology improved. Networks of railroads and canals allowed larger quantities of coal to be moved over greater distances more cheaply and effectively than before. Railway spurs were built directly to mines, facilitating the dispersal of coal. This brought more coal into new markets, further fueling the spread of the Industrial Revolution and the demand for coal.

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