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CAN UNCLE SAM MINE COAL? YOU BET HE CAN!
HE'S DOING IT NOW IN BUSINESS-LIKE WAY
(Editor's Note As soon as Sena
tor Poindexter's bill for government
development and operation of Alas
kan coal mines was introduced in the
senate, the usual shriek went up from
the "interests" to the effect that the
government could not successfully
mine coal; that it could not do it as
cheaply as a private concern; that
there would be graft and dismal fail
ure all along the line. But Uncle Sam
has been in fact mining coal at Wil
liston, N. D. A Day Book man was
sent to North Dakota the other day
with instructions to write up govern
ment coal mining there; to investi
gate thoroughly and tell the truth
about it. He found the truth very
flattering to Uncle Sam. The fol-
lowing is his first article) :
By W. H. Alburn.
WilKston, N. D., Aug. 22. This lit
tle city has a surprise for those' who
insist that Uncle Sam is a mighty
poor business man, and can't own
and bperate his own resources as
well as private capitalists can.
Since Senator Poindexter and Sec
retary Lane have been urging their
plan for the government development
of the vast coal deposits in Alaska,
these good people have been saving:
"What? The federal government
go into the coal mining business and
expect to succeed? It's preposter
ous!" Well, Uncle Sam IS in the coal
mining business, right here in Wil
liston. And here are the facts I dis
covered when I came to investigate:
Uncle Sam is mining lignite coal
cheaper than private corporations
He is paying his miners more
money than private corporations are.
And he is making better use of the
coal he digs.
This federal coal mine is still in' its
infancy, and the amount of fuel dug
is small. But. as a pioneer enter
prise brought to success in the face
of great obstacles, it has a powerful
bearing on the Alaska problem.
The mine was developed by the re
clamation service, as a side issue, in
connection with the Williston and
Buford-Trehton irrigation projects.
There are 30,000 acres of fertile
valley4and bench land on Little Mud
dy creek and the Missouri river, and
there was plenty of water in the Mis
souri to supply the lack of rainfall.
The water couldn't be brought to
the bench land by gravity it had to
be pumped. The government had
S. L Sinclair, Superintendent of the
1,000 acres of coal land near by, so
Uncle Sam simply decided to use his
coal to pump the water to irrigate the
The mine was opened and the
power plant put in operation in 1908.
They have been running ever since,
in the irrigation season, and 32,000
tons of coal have been taken out and
consumed. The miners are now dig
ging from 80 to 90 tons a day.
The coal has cost Uncle Sam an
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