Dodd Coal Mine
From “Malakoff’s Lignite Fuels Trinidad’s Plant”
By Glenna Kay Pulley
Before the Trinidad plant was constructed, a number of independent coal or lignite mines were active in Malakoff. A feature article in the Tyler Courier-Times Telegraph, Sunday, February 26, 1939, gave some history of a group of independently owned mines founded by W. C. Dodd. Dodd accidentally found a vein of coal while he and his ll-year-old son, Melvin, were squirrel hunting. The elder Dodd was raised in the Birmingham, Alabama, area where coal was prevalent. Little coal mining existed in Texas at the time of Dodd’s discovery in 1911. After Dodd investigated to be sure that a sufficient amount of coal was available, he purchased 1,500 acres from J. J. Carson. Dodd, his wife, and son began to mine in the first coal shaft that was located on this land. The coal was initially brought out in a wheel barrow, but eventually Dodd “acquired a drum to which he hitched a mule and walked it about to wind up the cable and thus dragged the coal out of the mine.”
Dodd finally convinced a Dallas coal dealer, W. I. Reed, that he had a sizeable coal mine in Malakoff so “Reed offered to stake him to a motor for hauling the cars of coal out of the mine.” Dodd invented and patented a self-dumper which eliminated delays in releasing the coal from the cars. His next major obstacle was to convince Texans that coal could be used in place of wood. He sent out men who were experienced coal burners to install coal grates in wood-type boilers and show businessmen how to effectively use coal.
One of Dodd’s first customers was a compress owner in Hubbard, Texas. After a short time, many big businesses began to use coal as a fuel including the Cotton Belt railroad with shops in Tyler. World War I caused the use of coal to increase due to the government’s operating the railroads; prices subsequently increased. Dodd sold his coal for $18 a ton although it only cost him $1 to $1.50 a ton to mine. Dodd operated day and night and worked about 200 Mexican men.
Dodd took credit for allowing Texas Power & Light to establish an interest in the Malakoff area. He said that the company made a survey and found enough coal to provide its Trinidad plant with 1,000 tons a day for 40 years. The Malakoff Fuel Company was established to supply Texas Power & Light with the needed coal, and even though Dodd refused to sell his land, he stated that some 10,000 acres were purchased by the fuel company, and some 500 men were employed to mine the lignite.
As of 1939, Melvin T. Dodd, W. C. Dodd’s son, continued the independent “mining business, supplying some homes, a few laundries, and small tailor shops” in the area. He continued to employ 15 to 20 men. Melvin Dodd maintained that his coal vein was the best grade of lignite in the state and that because his mines had little water, they were better than those of the Malakoff Fuel Company. Dodd estimated that he and his dad had mined a total of 500 miles underground “if all the nooks and crannies in the mines were put lengthwise.” He indicated that the Malakoff Fuel Company was working out of its fifth mine which used pumps to keep out the water. Although the Malakoff Fuel Company would not release any information, Dodd speculated that the fuel company paid about $.70 a ton to mine their lignite and then sold it to Texas Power & Light for $1.10 a ton. Dodd also noted that the fuel company had the best and latest equipment, worked day and night, and could produce several tons of lignite per minute, and the elevator ran at about 90 miles an hour.
Sarah McClendon, “Fuel Is Supplied for Electric Power System,” Tyler Courier-Times-Telegraph, Feb. 26, 1939, clipping