Monday, January 19, 2009

Pitt Archivists Uncover the Past with Old Mining Maps

I saw this article in the Monday, January 19, 2009 of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


University of Pittsburgh archivists are using humidifiers, muslin fabric and Magic Rub erasers to recover valuable and potentially lifesaving information from cracked and faded coal industry maps, some more than a century old.

The work is part of an ongoing effort to catalog, conserve and prepare the maps, some dating to the 1850s, for a statewide digital database that can be used by the industry and the public.

Pitt announced last week that $200,000 has been pledged to facilitate the Consol Energy Mine Map Preservation Project. Consol has put up $100,000, the state Department of Environmental Protection is giving $75,000, and the federal Office of Surface Mining is chipping in $25,000.

"These maps are not only historically significant, they also serve as vital sources of information to improve public safety, protect the environment, safeguard active miners and improve economic development," said Thomas Shope, director of OSM's Appalachian Region.

The bulk of the maps, along with mining logs, records, survey books, mine artifacts and photographs, were donated by Consol to the Pitt archives from 1991 to 2004. Those materials date from the 1890s through the first half of the 20th century and include more than 8,000 individual maps.

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