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Continuing a series of original documentaries on environmental issues, WTVP is pleased to present a new production that looks at the legacy of coal mining in Illinois and efforts to reclaim once unusable land for recreation and other purposes. For nearly a century, Illinois was one of the top coal-producing states, with peak production in the 1940s. In Peoria County, a “dog hole” mine in what is now Rocky Glen Park produced more than 1.5 million tons and descended two miles into the hillside. In Toluca, which once boasted more than 1,000 mining jobs, only “The Jumbo” remains.

Mining is greatly diminished today but the environmental impact of these old operations continues. Authorities have identified more than 5,000 known mines in the state, with thousands more still unlocated or unidentified. Lingering hazards range from toxic “gob piles” (tailings) and water contamination to collapsing underground mine shafts.

This original documentary visits a modern mine in Elkhart, Illinois, explores 1970s environmental regulations and talks to state organizations working to reclaim and adapt land for productive uses.

Program Sponsor

Backlund Charitable Trust

This program is made possible in part by the Backlund Charitable Trust, established to educate and create awareness of environmental issues. 

Written and produced by: 
H Wayne Wilson

Director of Photography:
Todd K. Pilon

Toluca Mine
Mining Water Tower
“gob piles” (tailings)
Toluca "Jumbo"

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