The annual celebration of Coal Miners Day began in 1975, and is held every June to commemorate the spirit of our founding residents. Many current residents in the Melcher-Dallas area are decendants from the first coal miners and residents.
For those that resided or attended school here but have moved away, Coal Miners Day is a time for class reunions, gatherings, and visits.
The Melcher-Dallas Fire Department organizes the celebration and fund-raising, with many area residents joining in with a Parade, BBQ, Bake Sales, Bingo, Music, Contests, Mud Volleyball, Golf Tournament, and so much more held at the park in the middle of our city square.
The discovery of coal in the Dallas area brought jobs, the railroad, and the establishment of Melcher.
21 coal mines were sunk in the surrounding areas:
Consolidated No. 1 Mine
Consolidated Indiana No. 2 Mine
New Standard No. 1 Mine
W. M. P. Coal Company
Long & Smith Coal Company
Black Diamond Mine
Red Rock Mine
No. One Indiana Mine
Melcher Coal Company
Red Dog Mine
Waller McElree Mine
Anderson-Robinson Coal Company
Twin Cities Coal Company
A. P. & M. Coal Mine
Alton Coal Company
Vernon Brothers Mine
George Richards Mine
Jacob Bingham Mine
Flanagan & Bell Coal Company
Approximately 600 Melcher-Dallas coal miners were members of the local 1504 United Mine Workers of America.
In 1929 Marion County Iowa (location of Melcher-Dallas) produced 20% of all coal produced in Iowa. In 1930 Marion County was the leading producer of coal in the State.
In 1947 coal production was at 618 million tons. 12 miners could produce 75-80 tons a day, and were paid $2.00 per ton.
The last coal mine in the Melcher-Dallas area closed in 1952, leaving memories of hard times, hard work, the Great Depression, and the indomitable spirit of the miners and their families.
The original Miner’s Meeting Hall in Melcher has been restored to the Coal Mining and Heritage Museum.
“One whole wall is occupied by a huge mural of a coal tipple (where coal was emptied from coal carts). There are displays of miners’ hats, carbide lamps, mole teeth (drill bits), mule shoes, a reconstructed blacksmith shop, a collection of miners’ picks and pails, a mine replica. Wooden lagging covers the walls of the 40-foot-long tunnel, which contains a wooden coal car on rails. The tunnel leads to the “working face” of the mine, where a drill is set up. Another realistic touch is that the dampness of the basement even recaptures some of the odors of a coal mine! … (and) features a toy canary in a cage.” Greg A. Brick – Iowa Underground, A Guide To The State’s Subterranean Treasures.