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From the Jan. 14, 1928, Eagle

Eagle Archives, Jan. 14, 1928: Prof. Dale characterizes Berkshire coal deposits as absolutely fictitious

“Absolutely fictitious,” was the statement of Professor Thomas Nelson Dale of 78 Holmes Road, retired geologist of the United States geological survey. He was queried regarding the possibility of coal deposits in the Berkshires as suggested this week by U.S. Sen. Royal S. Copeland of New York during a discussion in the senate on his bill to lower transportation rates on coal and better conditions in the mining regions.

The Berkshire hills were formed under the ocean and are known as marine formations, according to Professor Dale, and there is no chance for coal deposits occurring in the region. Graphite deposits have been found, he admitted, but in such small quantities as to render the working of such deposits impractical.

These deposits are the result of the decomposition of organic marine material such as plants and animals. Coal deposits occur in swamps and are the result of the decomposition of organic matter, once growing on this planet, but growing millions of years later than the time of the exposure of the Berkshire hills, according to Professor Dale.

Professor Dale estimates the age of the rocks in this region at from 20 to 50 millions of years. He explained that at one time a coal company was projected for a region near Chatham, but this bubble burst when the United States geological survey showed the absurdity of the theory that coal could exist in that region. The basis of the theory, he believes, was the finding of graphite deposits similar to those found on Greylock and near Monument Mountain.

Professor Dale suggested that it might have been the part of wisdom for Copeland to have consulted the United States geographical survey bulletins of Massachusetts on file in Washington, for then he would never have made such a ridiculous statement credited to him this week.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.

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