The Ohio River Collieries Company began its surface coal mining operations in Belmont County, Ohio, in 1959 by purchasing the Lafferty Mine from Oliver Monaco. We started mining coal in 1960 using two small draglines. The coal was sold to Northern Ohio and Southern Michigan utilities for a price of $2.80 per ton and shipped by railroad car. In 1964, a 14 yard 7400 Marion dragline was moved to Lafferty from the Gallipolis, Ohio mine. The dismantling, moving and reassembly of this machine took 98 truckloads of parts to transport and four months to complete. This machine began operating at its new location on November 1, 1964. During the 1960's and 1970's, we mined as much as one million tons per year and employed as many as 250 men and women who were primarily Belmont County residents. As the demand for Ohio coal decreased during the 1980's, so did our production figures and employees.
Through the years, the management of Ohio River Collieries has been very active on both state and federal levels in presenting problems facing the Ohio coal industry to government officials. It has remained active in many coal associations in an attempt to solve these problems. In order to better educate the public, we enlisted the help of award-winning photographer, Ellis Dungan, in the making of a movie about surface mining and reclamation titled "Energy for a Living Environment". This film has been used throughout the United States by schools, colleges and civic groups in order to better explain both, our industry and our commitment to restoring the land that we mine. Such a commitment was apparent in 1977 as Ohio River Collieries received the Ohio Conservation Achievement Award for our reclamation practices.
A history of our company would not be complete without mentioning our employees. Several families moved to Belmont County when Ohio River Collieries moved operations from southern Ohio. Many of our employees have resided in the Lafferty and Bannock areas all of their lives. We employed many whose fathers, sons, daughters or brothers were former employees. We take pride that we have been a viable part of the Lafferty and Bannock communities for nearly 60 years. We also take great pride in our employees, without whose help this would not have been possible. Together, we have survived some very difficult times in the Ohio coal industry, and continue to hope for a bright future in our industry, our company and our area.
Today, we, like many other mining operations of our size, are not able to compete with the larger operators. Since Ohio River Collieries has acquired property over the years for its mining operations, we are now putting that property to other uses. It has been a goal to retain property whenever possible because, as it's been said around here, "They don't make anymore land.". Currently, we lease land to local cattlemen for grazing, we rent campsites for event camping, we lease buildings and land to commercial and industrial companies. And, more recently we saw the need to cater to the gas and oil industry. We continue to look to the future as a matter of daily practice.