The York Canyon coal bed
Charles L. Pillmore
The York Canyon coal bed was probably first discovered in the mid-1800's by early explorers on lands of the Maxwell Land Grant. Lee (1917) stated that coal in the Raton coal field was first reported by the Long Expedition in 1820. An early report by St. Auburn (1888, p. 34), evaluating resources of the Maxwell Land Grant, described the York Canyon deposit specifically and mentioned that it had already been leased:
"... York Canyon. The latter is leased to the Raton C. & C. [Coal and Coke] Co. who have made several openings, one drift over 90 feet in length showed over 8 feet of coal, the best showing on the Grant. I visited probably six or seven other openings on the two forks of the Canyon and at each saw the same fine body of coal. My visit was very hurried owing to some disturbance going on among the squatters from which my guide apprehended dire results—forebodings which I am glad to say were not realized; nevertheless it made my trip to these two important outcrops too brief for me to determine much that I should wish to know."
St. Auburn's report and a second report to the Maxwell Land Grant Company in 1 1888 (P. H. van Diest, 1888) indicate that the coal potential of the area was already well known at that time. That portion of the Land Grant containing the coal bed as it was then defined was approximately 6 mi2 (16 km2). The general boundaries of the coal were quite well delineated, although the coal bed is now known to extend somewhat beyond them.
- Pillmore, Charles L., 1976, The York Canyon coal bed, in: Vermejo Park, Ewing, Rodney C.; Kues, Barry S., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 27th Field Conference, pp. 249-251.