Coal from Bust to Boom Again, 1930 —1973
The Colorado coal industry's recession worsened at the end of the 1920s with the onset of the Great Depression. World War II temporarily restored stability to coal mining, but the recession recurred following the close of the conflict. By 1960, recovery was under way as utilities purchased record amounts of coal to generate electricity in an effort to satisfy a fast-rising demand for power from household, business, and industrial consumers.
The 1930s were a bad time for Colorado's coal industry. Output plummeted from 8.2 million tons in 1930 to 5.2 million tons in 1933. The number of employees declined at the same time from 10,683 to 8,179. For those who were fortunate to have jobs, the average days of annual employment dropped from 165 to 140.
Relief from shrinking markets, reduced revenues, unemployment, and underemployment eluded the beleaguered industry until President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1933. At the urging of the chief executive, Congress approved initiatives designed to halt deflation, stimulate recovery, and prevent another economic calamity of similar proportions. A measure of the troubled times was the creation of the National Recovery Administration, which granted hard-pressed industries the opportunity to create “codes of fair competition” designed to stimulate revival of business