Longwall Effects  

welcome graphic

Diary of Longwall Mining Damage 2003

In June 2003, Ohio Valley Coal Company mined under our new house along Rt 147. This 7 year old house sustained substantial damage which will at a minimum require rebuilding the entire foundation, replacement of all exterior brickwork, rebuilding of the brick fireplace, replacement of all interior drywall and the house water supply.

In December 2003, the Historic James Kinney farmstead was undermined as well. Despite substantial expenditures by Ohio Valley Coal Company, a severe amount of interior damage has also been done to the 140 year old James Kinney house, surrounding buildings and water well (dating back to 1795). Additional expenditures will be required by Ohio Valley Coal Company in order to restore these structures to their pre-mining condition.


6/13/2003 (Pictures)

Mining equipment has moved out from under the house.

6/12/2003 (Pictures)


6/11/2003 (Pictures)


6/10/2003 (Pictures)


6/9/2003 (Pictures)

Longwall Mining starts under the new house.


The following people came to the James Kinney farm building complex today to survey the premises and build a proposal to mitigate damage to the historic structures. Dave Bartsch, engineer for Ohio Valley Coal Company, Claude Luke, field representative OVCC, Tom Pulay, ODNR field representative Dr. Yi Luo and Dr.Yunqing Zhang, West Virginia University mining engineers Drs. Luo and Zang gave the following references of structures they have submitted proposed mitigation plans prior to longwall mining. Mining done by RAG and Consol Mining Co. in Green County PA Wermlinger farm, Minor, Gordon Farm and Kent Farmstead.
All above participants in this survey were off the premises in 1hour and 30 minutes.

Floyd Simpson


The following people signed in at the James Kinney farmhouse as people who will be doing work in and around the premises.

Steven Avdakov, Heritage Architectural Associates Wheeling WV
Kurt Keahey same, St. Clairsville, OH
Khepri C. Polite, American Archaeological Services Youngstown, OH
Jason B. Soelar, American Archaeological Services Youngstown, OH
Debbie Zellts, American Archaeological Services Youngstown, OH
Antonio Pilolli, American Archaeological Services Youngstown, OH
David J. Soldo, principal of American Archaeological Services Youngstown, OH

A 20 plot archaeological dig was completed and the artifacts or items of interest were removed by the AAS people mentioned above.

The Hughes Corporation of 375 Pettit Run Rd. Sycamore, PA 15364 represented by Douglas R. Hughes, President and Darrell Weaver Superintendent

Floyd Simpson


Hughes Corporation dug trenches around the main house and summer kitchen. Archaeologist K. Polite was in attendance. He found three ceramic items at the barn but discarded them as "irrelevant" At cow barn door he found a black, 3 inch arrow point that he kept and was taking it to the laboratory at Youngstown State to be weighed, photographed and analyzed. I asked him what age it was and he said about one to two thousand years old. This finding was observed also by David Bartsch of OVCC and the Hughes Corporation track hoe operator. After the trenches were dug they put in drainage pipe and sump pump and our farm supplied mulch hay. The trenches were covered by 4 X 8 foot 3/4 inch plywood to prevent any accidents. Trenches at west side of house were to be 14 feet deep to meet mitigation plan specs.that they be 5 feet below basement floor level. Equipment Hughes had today was not able to dig through that much rock. Trenches at barn were to be 5 feet deep but were dug 6 feet and same for summer kitchen. Digging deeper is better than less, of course.

Floyd Simpson


Hughes Corporation here to put up cables on summer kitchen.

Floyd Simpson

12/17/2003 (pictures)

Hughes crew here again, still putting up cables on summer kitchern.The Columbus Dispatch sent a reporter to take pictures and interview me as well as Dave Bartsch of OVCC. Kurt Leahey was here to do sketches Business going on at the farm during all this is difficult. Hay customers could not get in driveway due to Bartsch's car in driveway and trucks filling up the traffic circle. Finally got enough of them moved so the Ford 7710 tractor could get out to load hay for Mr. Ogilbee. Mrs. Helen Stanford had printed up 50 papers to go to many of the state and federal politicians about the plight of the James Kinney Farmstead. She also enclosed the most recent Ohio Farm Bureau policy concerning longwall mining under historic properties. This was recently passed into state policy by the delegates of the 2003 annual meeting in Columbus.

Floyd Simpson

12/18/2003 (pictures)

Hughes crew putting on black, flexible plastic downspouts after taking off the white pipes and laying them out in the yard. These look like large worms coming down from the roof gutters at both ends of the front of the house. All this activity around the house has made it hard for my little company, OVAS, INC. to get out a nice order to NASCO in Wisconsin. Jim Mellott (plumbing contractor for OVCC) came to look at basement to see what it would take to get the house supplied with water from a tank as mining will likely take all the well water. They will supply a tank in the front yard that holds 2,000 gallons of drinking water for a temporary supply and cut into my line from the good well from the barn and tie into the tank. Hughes men are now able to dig the trench west of the house deeper, through the stone to get it down to 14feet to meet the specs. This activity by big equipment so close to my dogs house is driving her crazy, Heidi got hoarse from barking at them so much and they were piling dirt right up to her house. I had to move her to the barn for safety.It seemed like a good move but she got into Kurts sketch material and actually tore up one of his CD's. I did not know he had left any of his material in the barn. He was sketching the barns internal timber frame structure. This main barn was built in 1874 and is very sound and is structurally nearly as perfect as it was in the year it was built.

Floyd Simpson

12/19/2003 (pictures)

5 men from Hughes Co. came by 7:00 AM
David Bartsch (OVCC) came at 10:00 AM He said he came late as his mother was in the hospital after a shoulder injury. Tom Pulay, ODNR, came and took measurements and pictures of the trenches west of house, Kurt Leahey came also to do sketching of the last of the inside of the main house. He will work on the main barn next. Kurt Stuffs (QES) Quality Environmental Services, came with his boss Fred Blackman to learn how to adjust tension on the cables. Pulay, Stuffs, Blackman and I watched Hughes job superintendent adjusted cables on the east side of the summer kitchen, I took their picture which will be included on the web page. The Times Leader editor, Betty Pokas, called to clarify with me an item about her reporters article for tomorrows paper (no, we did not have the Drovers' Trail Festival in 2003).

Floyd Simpson

12/20/2003 (pictures)

Full crew of workers from Hughes but they loaded the track hoe on their trailer and took it away in the morning. One guy smoothed out the half frozen snow covered mud tracks in some of the yard with the BobCat loader bucket. Then they took it back. The rest of the crew put up corner posts that were "V" shaped by lengthwise sawing heavy timbers. These were secured to the corners of the house with braces that extended out into the yard. Jim Mellott Plumbing Co. had two guys working in the SE corner basement to install inlet filter, carbon filter, pressure tank, ultraviolet light system and plumbing that will make my house dependant on water in the big tank in the front yard. Kurt came to sketch, stayed until late. Son Ron came home from Florida.

Floyd Simpson


This day (Sunday) there was no activity by the Hughes crew or Mellotts but Kurt called me to say he was being pressured by his boss to get the project finished for OVCC. I did let him work in the barn. Kurt had worked all week and had the flu to contend with all the while. Lisa Lowrey had been helping him but due to weather and class work at Bel Tech. she had not helped much this week. I took time off to go the town to get some groceries, First time I had been away as this place has been a bee hive of activity, people in and out of all of the buildings. They are all quite polite and I am sure nothing will be broken or come up missing but it is a constant strain to put up with it.

Floyd Simpson

12/22/2003 (pictures)

I sent a letter to ODNR Chief Sponsler today concerning his signing off on a mitigation report that does not include all of the features of the James Kinney Farmstead, especially the very old (possibly 1795) dug well at the barn, the dug well (circa 1863) at the Kinney house and the cistern (circa 1863). There is no plan to protect or prevent material major damage to these hand made structures as they are specifically listed on the National Register of Historic Places. By receiving this letter before mining he has time to have OVCC get a plan together to prevent damage and to allow the permit to mine coal here under the stated plan by ODNR. I suppose it would be a violation of the permit to mine with out addressing this. At 7:30 AM the Hughes men started their noisy electric generator. They continue to place the long corner posts up on the house. Mellott Plumbing's crew accidently cut into my water line which was under pressure from my pump at the dug well at the barn. It flooded the trench before they could get to the barn to shut it off. They got their line "teed" into it so my water is now coming from the "water buffalo" water tank that graces the once elegant front yard.
10:30AM I got a call from a Mrs. Hoard in Columbus that she had seen the Columbus Dispatch article about the James Kinney Farm house that will sink 3 or 4 feet due to longwall mining. She faxed a copy to me, It looked OK. This was an article done by Randy Ludlow last week. This was in the Metro Section of the Dispatch. Mrs. Hoard was very concerned about the situation and was going to send me information about some restoration work she does in Columbus in case I need help in that regard. Kurt came to work at the barn, he had a helper from the office, (Tony?) Ron and I were surprised to see a stranger in my front yard, measuring my house, he said. He was a surveyor hired by the coal company. Ron and I had just come back from town to send a message to Governor Taft about the plight of this historic property. Water was delivered to the tank by Deans Water Service. The new pump worked OK for awhile but quit. Mellotts got it going at 5:30 PM today. They will pull my pump and pipes out of my well tomorrow and store it. I had a message on my business phone recorder that the Ohio Farm Bureau chief lawyer is interested in this case and will be calling me for details. He is interested in putting this case on the next Ohio Farm Bureau cabinet meeting agenda.

Floyd Simpson


The Hughes crew started the generator at 7:30 this AM. It is so loud that they have to shout to be heard. They are putting more cables on the main house and adjusting corner posts and cabling the portico and back porch. With all the loud machinery, thumps of them hammering the corner posts and hollering over the roar of equipment there is little peace here today. I got a call from Scott Beveridge of the Observer Reporter that he wants to interview me. Deans Water delivery man (Mal) dropped another 1,000 gallons of water, did not want me to run out at Christmas. Kurt was done sketching, rushing off to get the sketches put into the CAD CAM. in Wheeling. He left at 5:00. Hughes picked up tools and left at 4:00, Mellotts got my pump pulled. Channel 7 WTRF TV wants to come out. My house is trussed up like a Christmas Turkey with the cables and nylon bands on it. There is mud everywhere, no grass left in the yard, equipment has run over almost all of it but if the buildings survive OVCC can get a lawn care company to put the grass back.

Floyd Simpson

12/24/2003 (pictures)

Kurt Stubbs, Mike Schumacker and Tom Pulay all stopped to check the cables.

Floyd Simpson


Christmas Day, Coal Company longwall is down for two days for Christmas. My water pump in the water buffalo quit. Had to call out Mellots to get it going. Bad regulator? Christmas dinner with son Ron and Shirley at her house.

Floyd Simpson


8:00 AM Kurt Stubbs (QES) came to adjust the house and summer kitchen cables. Some are as much as 7,000 lbs and he has to make adjustments up to a preset pressure before mining starts and adjust due to cables expanding or contracting in warm or cold weather. Claude Luke (OVCC) told me that the longwall is stopped under the tractor shed, just about 75 feet west of the house. It will start up tomorrow at midnight and he expected house damage to start Sunday morning. WTOV TV, Channel 9 from Steubenville, OH interviewed me. They took pictures of the cables and braces on the buildings. This aired at 5:00 and 6:00 then again at 11:00 PM. WTRF TV Channel 7 ran a small blurb about the house being undermined and quoted someone from the coal company that had said they expected little or no damage. I do not know who they called at OVCC as they were all closed for the holiday at the office and David Bartsch and Claude Luke were on Christmas break or vacation. I placed pendulums in the summer kitchen and 2 in the basement of the main house. Already had put three in the main house. All are pendulums that are free to swing in any direction over a 1 inch square grid. All are marked at a point in the middle as I do not know which way they might swing. Plan is to make a mark at points where the pointer is indicating several times a day at first.

Floyd Simpson

12/27/2003 (pictures)

My son Ron helped me in the AM with computer and getting things put away that might be broken when the longwall comes under. I got a call from Dinah Burns, a direct descendent of Ignatious Burns, who had been one of the first to run the farm as a drovers station before James Kinney bought it from George Burns, a son of Ignatious. Dinah Burns and daughter Maggie came out in the early afternoon for a tour of the place. Dinah is a great, great, great granddaughter of Ignatious Burns. I gave them a complete tour of the house and told them to remember how it looked. I told them to note that there were no cracks in ceilings, walls, and bricks and even though we have pictures they might have to vouch for this. I put up two pendulums in the barn, one in the middle of the upper floor at the grain bin and one in the first floor back of stall # 7. I put one in the milkhouse which was difficult as Hughes people had cabled the milkhouse and had braced the entrance door. My nephew Wayne Slater called me on his cell phone to advise me to move out of the house when the longwall goes under. I told him I was staying. Claude Luke (OVCC) called me to say that they were at a point 50 feet west of the house and they would be under the house at midnight. Channel 9 ran a piece about our farmstead again. My phone was ringing a lot, with people wanting to know why the coal company was not being respectful of our Historic property. There were no ODNR people here today.

Floyd Simpson

12/28/2003 (pictures)

8:00 AM, Claude Luke from the coal company called to ask about the house. He said they were 35 feet past it already. I told him the pendulums were right on center and no problems were seen. 8:10 AM Kurt Stubbs here to tighten the cables, he said there was no outside damage. I went to get my cordless phone from the dresser and found pieces of plaster on it. I looked up to see a major crack in the ceiling above which stretched across the wall! I could hear cracking and thumping sounds coming from the other rooms and found the ceilings upstairs were all getting cracks running across them. The hall was very bad and the pendulum had moved west an inch! I talked with Kurt and he said no outside damage yet but we went in the summer kitchen and found the pendulum had moved southwest an inch and it could be felt that the building was tilted. The door was stuck in the museum room. Claude Luke came at 9:00 AM. Gave him the tour. Ceilings and walls getting worse. We observed the pendulums in the barn had moved and the longwall was not yet even under the barn. He said it was a ground swell ahead of the dropping earth. He said it will go down after the mining has gone past it which will be tonight. Mrs. Helen Stanford came out to help me use drop cloths to cover more of the area it looks like will be hit by falling plaster. The room above the kitchen has now had a major loss of plaster. We had to move my computer, desk and books out from under and cover the bed and floor and closet doors (original hand painted wood work on these) Cracks are now appearing above door and completely across the ceiling now. It is wrinkling the new ceiling paint I put on just last summer when this room was re-painted. Bill and Eileen Wise came over for the tour this afternoon. Bernice Bartels and Shirley took the tour of the house and summer kitchen. Mrs. Bartels took a lot of pictures. I have taken over 100 digital pictures with Ron's camera. When I got into the 2nd room (door was stuck) of the summer kitchen we found a huge crack running from the outside wall down the middle of the wall. Outside only one or two bricks were broken,near a window. Same area inside had plaster cracked so this is a structural problem. Otherwise no foundation stones or major brick loss on outside of these two brick buildings. The main barn pendulums have moved back to their starting point by 5:30 PM. Channel 9 ran a little information on the damage, they said they are coming out tonight to run a "LIVE REPORT" at 11:00 PM. Later note: Nate Cline of Channel 9 came out and took a video and interviewed me for the live report. He said he was shocked at what he saw. Mr. Cline had been at a number of our Drovers Trail Festivals and appreciates preservation of the history of our area. There were no ODNR people here today, they are either off for Christmas or due to health problems.

Floyd Simpson


8:00 AM Kurt Stubbs here to adjust cables. He told me, some were loose. Channel 9 coming out at 11:00AM. This time it is D.K. Wright and cameraman My gosh, I am living in a fish bowl!!! ODNR's Dave Clark from the Cambridge office and his boss Tom ( ?) and Dan Schrum from the Office of Surface Mining. Andy Stamp from the Wheeling News Register, and Eric Ayers from the Times Leader were all here today. Bill (?) Hamilton came with two loads of stone for the driveway that was torn up by the contractors. Jimmy Greenwood from Mellott Plumbing came and adjusted the water pressure regulator and got his company trackhoe. Ohio Dept. of Transportation people had heard of the mining under an icon on the newly assigned Ohio Byway and they sent me a copy of what was in the Columbus Dispatch. The ceilings are getting very bad. Lots of original "horsehair plaster" is coming down. All of the ceilings are now cracked and I have looked above the false ceiling downstairs to find large cracks not only in the ceiling but also cracks coming down the walls and chimneys. Still nothing much disturbed on the outside. The cables have done their job. The basement floor is starting to crack and is heaving upward as much as two inches in places. Pendulums are still moving away from the starting point to the southwest. One can put a marble down on the floor and watch it race toward the southwest. It is an eerie feeling to walk through the house and feel as though it is either down hill or uphill or that one is walking sideways! I ran a sight level along the back porch (44 feet across) and found that it was 8 inches lower on the west side! I have found some broken slate from the roof due to the twisting and some nails have popped out of the back porch. Local TV is running a lot of coverage tonight. They quote me as saying that the mine should have gone around the James Kinney Farmstead. They have Dave Bartsch saying that they had no way to go around it as they only do longwall mining and do not have equipment to do room and pillar mining. Another OVCC spokesman, Steve Cohen said it would have cost them millions of dollars to go around. Bartsch saying that they will "repair" to historic standards (not "restore" to historic standards which is required by law). He said they would pay me for any "lasting damages". Interesting that Dave had told Eric Ayres of the Times Leader that they would not longwall mine under the nearby Dysart Woods and would only room and pillar. I still do not understand why they did not go around the Historic James Kinney property by using whatever they plan to do for the Dysart Woods that Dave said "would never cave in." as he told the reporter.

Floyd Simpson


Both Channel 7 and Channel 9 are running short news articles about the plight of the James Kinney farm building complex, especially the house being damaged. Coal company declares the damage as "insignificant". None of their people are here to experience the sickening sound of the 140 year old historic horsehair plaster falling from the high ceilings to the floor, the timbers making groaning sounds and the occasional pop of a brick inside the walls and the subsequent opening of the wall plaster into a jagged crack that spreads from the ceiling to the floor. The were not here when the house tilted so much that doors stuck shut, opened mysteriously or were not aligned with the door casing so they couldn't possibly close. There is no privacy, people are everywhere, checking the cables three times a day, checking the wells to see if the water is still there, unknown visitors stopping off the highway to gawk at this once elegant house that is all trussed up like a Christmas Turkey during this week when most Americans are enjoying a house full of family, food and Christmas good tidings. David Rucker of QES checked the water level at the dug well at the barn and with a long face reported to me that the level has gone down 2 feet since yesterday. The dug well at the Kinney house is actually up! Water can be heard running into it from the rain last night. What seems to be happening is that the fracturing of rocks above the longwall have opened up cracks farther up on the well wall and surface water is finding its way into the well instead of the deeper strata that used to supply a steady stream. David Simpson, structural engineer hired by OVCC and Tim Hegedorn came to look at the house. After a long examination he said it was "safe to stay in." which is what OVCC had hired him to determine. He also stated that there would be more subsidence damage and repair or restoration could not be done until subsidence quits. I asked, "How long" He turned to Claude Luke and asked him. Mr. Luke did not give an answer. Both the Times Leader and the Wheeling News Register ran full color front page articles about the damage to the historic home. I am getting phone calls and people dropping in to ask me about the damage. All calls and face to face contacts with me were quite adamant, saying that the coal company should not have done this to such a historic place. Most had believed that it would be averted at the last minute. I am getting phone calls from all over Ohio. AP NewsWire press picked up the Columbus Dispatch story and ran it all over the state and West Virginia. Some folks I knew called and said they were surprised to see me on their front page! Pendulums in the house are starting to come back after going an inch and a half to the southwest. The basement pendulums are not moving back in the same direction so the house is coming down in a twisting motion. Not a good thing! Pendulums in the main barn are coming back nicely, almost to starting point. Not so good for the milk house which has gone over 2 inches to the southwest and the thick concrete floor is cracked and heaved. The inside door is wedged tight against the floor that has heaved and the corner post is caved in. When I got back to the house basement it was worse. The floor was heaved upward in the main hall and split the step stone between rooms under the kitchen. There is evidence that the heaved up part is forcing another section of basement floor out of line with the door for the room under the Northwest living room.

Floyd Simpson

12/31/2003 (pictures)

Dr. Jeff Reichwein, Ph D state archaeologist, Mr. Kevin Ricks, ODNR DMR field man came to take a tour of the damage to the structures. They took many pictures and observed the damage which has been much more severe than the coal company had predicted. Dr. Reichwein took great interest in how the trenching was done around the house, summer kitchen and barn. He was supposed to be notified when the contracted archaeologists were here for the survey and later for the trenching. He said the contractor employed was not registered with the state prior to doing the work. He was dismayed at the process used by them and the fact that he was not told when the digging was to be going on. He said the artifacts found were not itemized and did not enter the early 19th Century china pieces into the list. These items were found within 50 feet of the original log house built here in the late 1700's. I have not been privileged to see the results of these coal company assigned archaeologists findings nor has Dr. Reichwein seen them. The results of the "dig" or the Phase 2 investigation were to be sent to Dr. Reichwein and then the SHPO office. They were to make an evaluation of the work to see if the trenching would be permitted. Their report was to go to the chief of DMR before mining. This report (not complete) was sent but arrived after mining had caused damage to the James Kinney Farmstead building complex. It seems that David Bartsch of OVCC had gone on vacation before sending it. I also pointed out to them that not all of the features listed on the National Register were included on the mitigation plan. Dr. Reichwein explained the legality to me that ALL of the features including the part of the farmstead mined under last June are considered the JAMES KINNEY FARMSTEAD as it is part of the 57 acre tract reserved for special protection of Section 106 of the Department of the Interior. Channel 9 ran a special call in poll. They asked "should longwall mining be done under historic properties?" The results were 82 % said no and 12% misguided souls voted yes.

Floyd Simpson



home | drovers trail | scenic byways | links of interest | gift shop | hay for sale | about us | longwall effects | history