The Abandoned Mine Lands Division of the North Dakota Public Service Commission will soon be reclaiming the old coal mine near the ghost town of Havelock, N.D.
Posted Feb. 8, 2013
The mine site is officially recorded, as within eight miles of the corporate limits of Regent, N.D. or, in Hettinger County, NW1/4,SW1/4 of section 27,T135N,R96W, encompassing some 16 acres. The present day owner of the land is Kerry Schorsch.
History records that during its heyday, this mine was one of the most extensive and important coal beds in Hettinger County, with coal beds 10-12 feet deep in the Havelock area. It is noted in the records that there were several other surface and underground coal mines near Havelock during the early 1900’s through about 1940, as well. These mines were the Havelock Coal Mine, Schorsch Coal Mine, and Quality Coal Company, Culver Coal Mine, Weinady Coal Company, Rogers Mine and the Reese Coal Mine. In the early 1930’s coal cost $1.25 a ton, by 1935 the price rose to $1.27 a ton. By 1940, we see the price drop to $1.22 a ton, but not for long. By 1943 coal prices shot up to $2.50 a ton! Owners, Operators or Superintendents are listed as Joe Schorsch, Joe P. Schorsch, Schorsch and Engelman, Anthony Schorsch, Frank Huffman, J. Clemens, and Wilhelm. Visiting with present owner of the property, Kerry Schorsch, he advised me that Joe Schorsch was his grandfather and Anthony was his great- uncle but the others listed in the records he was unfamiliar with.
Perusing the historical notes shared with me by Mark E. Knell, Professional Engineer/Abandoned Mine Lands Division I need to add these additional notes to further full honesty in reporting, leaving nothing out: the Schorsch mine is not listed as a new mine in 1933, and it may have been in operation prior to that time. The mine is listed as “not operating” in 1936, but in 1939 it was again reported and listed as a new mine. It is not known if the mine reported as a new mine in 1939 was located at this same location or whether the 1939 listing refers to a new mine in a different location.
Reclamation is needed now as the land is open to agriculture and hunting and is a very dangerous area due to a high wall and an unstable soil pile near a road way. I personally went out to the mine site and can vouch for these dangers, as my husband had the fortitude to drive “ye ol’ Prairie Runner” up the afore mentioned “ highwall”, putting the vehicle in a straight up and down position so I could take pictures. Of course getting to the highwall you must first drive around the “spoil pile” which will be pushed back into the mine, leveling out the land, and then be reseeded giving the area new life as agriculture land or rangeland.
Havelock(also known as Coal City) in the early days of homesteaders as area settlers secured coal from the east bank of the Cannon Ball River as early as 1902 but with the coming of the Chicago Milwaukee Puget Sound Railroad in 1909, more coal was needed and the town grew from 101 residents to near 254 in 1930. Havelock had a hotel, grocery store, livery, mine tipple, two banks, railroad depot, grain elevator, post office and grade school. The post office was closed by 1948 and the school closed in 1965, and now when you drive by you find just a couple of farmsteads, some old buildings still stand filled with Havelock’s old memories and history. Researching my records on Havelock, N.D. I remind you of a poem written long ago by one time resident of Havelock, Ragna Mesling (now writing poetry for her Lord):
“The Fate of My House”
My neighbor has her house so neat
Untouched by tiny hands or feet
To step inside one must’nt touch
To be replaced would cost too much
So it isn’t any fun at all
To try to make a friendly call
I’ll only wish if just one day
That I could have my house this way
Because it’s just the opposite
Not a place inside for me to sit
Groceries lists that are a must
Can be plainly written in the dust
Dishes all on the table yet
Where breakfast, dinner and supper met
Papers are scattered on the floor
Half unread from the days before
No use for me to climb to bed
Clothes are piled on it instead
If water one would like to drink
First must try to clean the sink
Windows are to let light in
Hard to find where mine have been
Doors cannot be opened wide
For us to drink some lemon-aide
I’d have to set out in the shade
If that neighbor makes me a friendly call
She mustn’t touch a thing at all
If my house can never be like hers
No need for her to make mine worse
Perhaps she longs if for just one day
That she could have her house like mine someday!
Thank you Ragna, for sharing your work again. Each time I read it, it brings back happy memories of our long afternoon visit sharing your other writings and Mesling family pictures.
Quoting Mark Knell of this reclamation project he adds the following information regarding this mine and any possible others which need attention :”The Public Service Commission administers the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program on behalf of the State of North Dakota. Program funding comes from a federal reclamation fee on coal that has been mined in the United States since the late 1970’s. These fees are placed into the AML fund and the money that North Dakota receives from this fund is used to eliminate existing and potential public hazards resulting from abandoned surface and underground coal mines. The reclamation fee on lignite mined in North Dakota is currently eight cents per ton.
Reclamation performance period for the Havelock C Project is scheduled to begin in May 2013 and be completed in July 2013. It is estimated that construction cost for the project will be $270,000.
If anyone feels they may be affected by abandoned coal mines or need more information, please contact the AML Division at (701) 328-4096 or reach our website at www.psc.state.nd.us.
Please contact me if you need any additional information.