Historical coal mine marker mystery

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Kendall Downing

JACKSON COUNTY, Ill. - A historical marker placed at the site of the first coal mine in Illinois is getting replaced, after it disappeared sometime in the 1960s or 1970s.

The site near the Big Muddy River in Murphysboro, Illinois is the location of the state's first known coal mine, traced back to 1810.

A man named William Boon and an indentured servant dug out coal from the banks of the river in 1810. Local historian Mike Jones said that's why the state put a marker there in the 1930s.

But that marker disappeared more than thirty years later from its home next to an old bar.

"Perhaps it disappeared as a college prank, it might've adorned a dorm room at one time," said Jones.

In anticipation of Jackson County's bicentennial, Jones worked with the state historical society and the Illinois Coal Association to get the funding for a new marker.

It will go up hear the Jackson County courthouse.

Jones said Jackson County put Illinois coal on the map.

"It makes it an important story," he said.

Robert Morfield maintains the photo collection at the Jackson County Historical Society. Mining photos along with the original marker make up their archives.

Morfield said he's glad a new marker will take its place.

"Nobody will know anything about it unless you document it," he said.

Jones believes the courthouse provides a perfect location with cameras making sure the new marker can't go anywhere.

"Let's say it offers a good spot for people to see it, and it offers security," said Jones.

The dedication ceremony is Saturday, October 26th at the Jackson County Courthouse at 11 a.m.

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