The Maryland Mining Company opened the Eckhart Mine in 1835. When it comes to Appalachian coal towns, it doesn't get much earlier than that. The company itself was incorporated in 1828. Eckhart Mines is named after George Eckhart, the original landowner whose family was swindled out of their land by the coal company because they could not produce a deed to their property. Over the next century coal companies exploiting Appalachian coal resources would repeatedly use this tactic to their advantage. Anyway, Eckhart coal was originally taken to Cumberland to be shipped on the B&O Railroad or the C&O Canal. How the coal was transported the 10 miles from the mine to Cumberland is unknown to me. However, in the 1840's the railroad connecting the mine and the markets was constructed.

The Maryland Mining Co. declared bankruptcy in 1851. Then the ownership of Eckhart Mines passed into the Cumberland Coal & Iron Co. Eckhart Mines was acquired by Consolidation Coal Co. in 1870 and rechristened their Mine No. 4. Consol had to dewater the mine, because it had become flooded by then. This coal mine was in the "Big Vein" Pittsburgh seam of coal. By 1911 No. 4 must have been in retreat mining, because the Maryland mine inspector's report for the year said, "The mine as a rule is practically all pillar work and in the recovery of abandoned coal." The report also stated that 130 men were employed at the mine in 1910, and they mined 89,691 tons of coal. Consol also opened a "Small Vein" (or Tyson seam) mine at Eckhart and designated it Mine No. 10. Mining continued on and off until operations were finally closed in the 1950's by the Maryland Coal & Realty Co., who were the final owners and operators of the Eckhart coal mines.

These stone houses at Eckhart are the oldest surviving coal camp houses I have ever seen. According to vintage accounts, once there were several hundred of these stone cottages at one time. (July 2003 image by author)

Richard Miller writes, "Hi. I was looking at your page about the mines in Eckhart MD. There is a photo of 3 houses that you refer to as the oldest coal camp houses known to exist. According to my family (I'm a descendant of the Eckharts) those houses were originally the slave quarters for the Eckhart family farm, before coal was discovered on the land. Those homes date to the late 1700s. They were used by the miners after the Eckharts sold (or were robbed of) the land. Just wanted to let you know about the origin of those homes, according to my family history."

These are more conventional miners' homes in Eckhart, probably built at a later date. (July 2003 image by author)

Streetscape in Eckhart Mines illustrating the fact that Eckhart Mines did in fact have a small commerical district. The white building on the left was once the Eckhart Theatre. (July 2003 image by author)

The Mine No. 4 portal was extant when this photo was taken, but may have been reclaimed by now. (May 1976 image by John Nelson, Maryland State Archives)