George Frederick Augustus Hauto was a German expatriate of distinguished bearing, the nephew and putative heir of a baron, and a man who claimed other moneyed connections as well as a reputation as an authority on coal. Whether he was any of these things remained an open question among some Philadelphians—there was no quick way to check his references—but he professed fascination with White’s work and ideas, and he proved his sincerity by investing in a wire bridge that White built across the Falls of Schuylkill in 1816. The following year he and White rode sixty miles north on horse-back to visit the moribund Lehigh Coal Company’s original anthracite mine, at Summit Hill on top of Mount Pisgah. Soon Hauto was raising funds to help White and Hazard acquire the old company and its anthracite coal lands.
Lacking the equipment and the inclination to dig shafts and send miners deep into the earth—as was already being done in the soft-coal mines of England, Wales, and Virginia—White and Erskine decided to simply cut a horizontal pit from a spot on the side of the mountain where outcroppings of coal were exposed on the hillside. This did not require much technical skill or capital, since they were tunneling not into rock, but into coal. For miners, they could simply hire farmers from the nearby countryside, who would work with pick and shovel not in darkness but in an open quarry in broad daylight. The farmers’ children could be hired to separate slate from genuine coal—work which, White assured himself, would be no more strenuous than helping their parents on the farm.
The coal mine, Hauto wrote in 1820,
lies at the top of a mountain and seems to extend over some hundreds of acres of land, covered by about twelve inches of loose black dirt, resembling moist