History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families Page: 150
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HISTORY OF TEXA8.
and less, until in many places mesquite roots
or even the ," Mexican dagger " are the principal
source of supply. The investigations
of the survey up to the present have been
confined to an examination of the wood supply
of certain counties with reference to the
manufacture of charcoal for iron smelting.
Lignite.-- Interniediate between peat and
bituminous coal we find a fossil fuel known
as lignite or brown coal. It contains less
water and more carbon than peat, but has
more water and less carbon then bituminous
coal. Lignites are the product of a later
geologic age than bituminous coal, and the
bituminous matter has not been so fully
developed as in the true bituminous coal.
Lignite varies in color from a brown to a
brilliant jet black, and occurs in all degrees
of purity, from a lignitic clay to a glossy
coal of cubical fracture. Th6 greatest amount
of our lignites, however, are of black color,
changing to brownish black on exposure,
often with somewhat of a conchoidal fracture
and a specific gravity of about 1.22. Lignite
occurs in beds similar to those of bituminous
coal, although they are not always as regular
The lignite field is by far the largest field
we have, and the coal strata it contains are
of much greater thickness than those of
either of the others. As nearly as we can
at present mark its boundaries they are as
follows: Beginning on the Sabine river, in
Sabine county, the boundary line runs west
and southwest near Crockett, Navasota, Ledbetter,
Weimar, and on to Helena and the
Rio Grande, thence back by Pearsall, Elgin,
Marlin, Richland, Salem, and Clarksville to
It includes fifty-four counties i whole or
part, and while we do not know of the occur
rence of lignite in every one of these, it will
in all probability be found in all of them
sooner or later.
Within the area thus defined lignite has
been observed at hundreds of localities. The
beds vary from a few inches to as much as
twelve feet, which thickness has been observed
and measured in numerous places.
The lignites have been mined in greater or
less quantities in several places, among
which may be mentioned: Athens, Henderson
county; seven miles east of Emory, Rains
county; Alamo, Cass county; Head's Prairie,
Robertson county; Calvert Bluff, Robertson
county; Hockdale, Milam county; Bastrop,
Bastrop county; Lytle Mine, Atascosa county; /
San Tomas, Webb county, and others.
Of these localities the Laredo "San Tomas"
coal stands out sharply above the rest. Although
it is classed as a lignite on the
ground of its geologic occurrence, it is much
superior to any of the ordinary lignites, as is
shown by its analysis.
The real value of this material as fuel is
not at all appreciated. Lignite, up to the
present time, has been regarded as of very
little value. Two causes have been instrumental
in creating this impression; first, the
quality it possesses of rapidly slacking and
crumbling when exposed to the air; and second
(and perhaps this is the principal cause),
all who have attempted to use it have done
so without first studying its character and
the best methods of burning it, as they have
in most cases endeavored to use it under the
same conditions which apply to a bituminous
coal containing a little water. While lignite
may not differ materially from bituminous
coal in weight, its physical properties are
entirely different. This is due not only to
the amount of water contained in the lignite,
amounting to from 10 to 20 per cent. of its
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Lewis Publishing Company, publisher. History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families, book, 1893; Chicago. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth29785/m1/155/?rotate=270: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .