Coal City, Indiana
|Elevation||199 m (653 ft)|
|GNIS feature ID||0432702|
Coal City is a small unincorporated community located in Jefferson Township, Owen County, Indiana, United States. It consists of only a grocery/restaurant, post office, and a gas station. Established in 1875, Coal City, Indiana, developed because of the railroad and the many businesses which moved to Coal City from Stockton (founded in 1852). John J. Hochstetler was the first merchant to move his general store to Coal City in 1868. James Hyatt built a brick factory at the south edge of Coal City and put in a kiln. He also built a saw mill and stave factory, and opened a general store and restaurant on Main Street. In 1886, he built a large brick house at the north edge of town. This house has been restored by Jim and Wanda Wells. He developed a large coal mine at the west edge of town that employed 80 or more men.
John J. Hochstetler formed a partnership with Mr. Grim in 1876. Grim bought Hochstetler's interest and continued the store until his death. John J. Summerlot and his son kept another general store at Main and Grim streets, where the bank is today. Other early stores were: Daniel Reed's dry goods store, Powell and Stephen's grocery, Grafe Brothers who followed Grim, Lewis Kirch's dry goods, B. F. Goshorn's grocery, Richard Bryson's hardware, and Burton Summerlot's notion store. Daniel Stantz moved his harness shop from Stockton in 1877. Mrs. Garvin, John and Sally Hochstetler, and Andy and Jenny Collenbaugh were early hotel keepers. George Grim and Ed Doak ran livery stables, Henry Van Horn had a restaurant, and John Krauchi had a blacksmith shop. Charlie Rush was the photographer in town and Robert Paine was an early undertaker.
A mill capable of producing one hundred barrels of flour per day was started about 1882 with community investment, but was abandoned. By 1911 it was running and successfully operated by the Coal City Milling Company, managed by Charles F. and Jesse Davis. It passed to a succession of owners until it finally burned in 1941.
Across the street from the mill and next to the mill pond is the old depot that Bryon Mitten moved to his lot and used as a storage building for his Hatchery, Feed and Hardware Store. Other businesses included a pharmacy, a blacksmith shop, and a combination hardware, stove and furniture store and undertaker business. Coal City had a millinery store owned by Link and Belle Chaney (1908-1930). Herbert Reagan's Commercial Supply Co. occupied the ground floor of the Odd Fellows Lodge for more than 30 years. The building has been razed and a school memorial and veterans' memorial occupy the spot today.
In the early 1920s two creameries and poultry houses were located along Main Street. Charles Megenhardt had a drug store on the corner of Fourth and Main from 1950 to 1962. Next door was the office of Dr. Boaz Yocum, who attended to the Coal City residents for more than 50 years. Office calls were 25 to 50 cents and house calls were one dollar. He bought a Studebaker Flanders in 1911 to take him on his rounds. It was the second automobile in Coal City. The first was Dr. Collins' 1907 Model T Ford. The garage is now owned by Jason Sinders and provides a place for the men to gather to discuss the affairs of the world, although they never seem to settle anything.
The railroad was important to Coal City. The coal industry depended on the trains and coal was vital to the area. It was coal that sustained the town through depression periods. Many men worked full-time in the mines, but some operated small mines in the winter and farmed in the summer. "Bank mules" worked in the deep mines and were turned loose in summer to forage for themselves. One adopted the VanHorn girls and they made a pet of him.
People living today remember the "drummers" (salesmen) coming to town on the trains. And they remember Coal City "Product Show" with farm exhibits and carnival. They remember electricity coming to town in 1929. Mail came in by rail, two trains each way, every day. At first the trains were powered by steam, but later small "doodle bug" engines were used.
The local area bank was closed in the fall of 2012. There is a festival every year in August and 'The Old Grouch' of the town is announced after donations are collected throughout the county. They also use the old train depot building (Donated by Irving Ray Mullins) during the festival as a way of showcasing local talent such as photography, quilting, or baking. Coal City is 45 minutes southeast of Terre Haute and 45 minutes west of Bloomington. Coal City is one of those small towns that have fallen on hard times, but was once a bustling, close knit community.
- ZIP Code: 47427
- Area code: 812
Bobby Grim, Indy car driver
- "Coal City". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
- Blanchard, Charles (1884). Counties of Clay and Owen, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. F.A. Battey & Company. p. 730.