History of Coke

By    Eileen Mountjoy


During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the combination of coal, capital, and railways brought a gigantic new industry to Jefferson and Indiana counties. Due to their favorable Northeast location, the product of the area’s first coal mines soon poured in a stead stream into markets as far away as New England, the Great Lakes and Canada. In the mining areas, peaceful farms and sawmills were suddenly displaced by tipples, mule barns, and block of identical miners’ houses. In some locations, another unfamiliar sight appeared – long rows of meticulously-constructed beehive coke ovens.





Hansa coking plant – the history of the industrial monument

From coal to coke – a trip through the production process in a coking plant

The end – and a truly monumental new beginning

The last coke was pushed out of the ovens on the Hansa coking plant on December 15th 1992 in a solemn and somewhat poignant final ceremony. Over the years the workers had developed an affectionate relationship to the Hansa coking plant despite the harsh working conditions.
When the Hansa coking plant was taken out of operation

in 1992 its future as an industrial monument was not yet secure.

The decision to preserve the Hansa coking plant for future generations was taken at a boom time for industrial monument conservation in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. Comprehensive programmes and tools for preserving and redeveloping industrial monuments were created on the basis of the careful use of resources and their sustainability.
Visitors can acquaint themselves with the Hansa coking
plant on the „Nature and Technology“ adventure trail. The
path leads via “transparent” conveyor belt bridges, past
bucket elevators, through coal bunkers to the coke ovens, and via pipe bridges to the „white side“, the „chemical factory“on the coking plant.





Kokerei Zollverein was built between 1957 and 1961.It was one of the world’s biggest coking plants (8,500 tonnes of coke per day).  The coking plant was  closed in 1993 and the demolition was imminent. The coking plant was saved thanks to the efforts of the Foundation for the Conservation of Industrial Monuments and Historical Culture).







Mining disaster of Marcinelle, Belgium

Marcinelle : a tragedy that we can not forget

On the morning of 8th August 1956, a fire in the mines of Marcinelle caused the death of 262 workers.  At the time of the incident, 274 people were working in the colliery Bois du Cazier, also known as Puits Saint-Charles.

A fire at one of the shafts of the coal mine of the Bois du Cazier, caused the deaths of 262 people from twelve different nationalities, mainly Italian, 136 victims, then Belgian, 95, was a chilling tragedy, the miners were left with no way escape, suffocated by gas fumes.

The old mine became a memorial dedicated to Italian immigration in Belgium : a museum “Le Bois du cazier” is dedicated at the tragedy.




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