Anthracite was the first casualty of the great twentieth-century energy transitions from coal to liquid fuels. However, its demise occurred in two stages, for oil and natural gas did not begin to undermine the market for hard coal until the 1920s. By 1900 anthracite had lost its industrial markets and even as a domestic fuel it was besieged. Strikes that led to uncertain supplies and rising prices encouraged consumers to search for substitutes while innovations in production and marketing made coke, manufactured gas, and coal briquettes increasingly attractive alternatives. Anthracite sales peaked in 1917 and declined sharply well before the onset of oil and natural gas. Although its demise might have taken longer, anthracite would have expired even if there had been no age of oil.

You do not currently have access to this content.