Buckhorn mine of the Consolidated Coal Company is in section 21 of Herrin Township, adjoining the same company’s number 7 mine, the first in the Herrin field. Digging the new mine was begun early in 1937 and equipment unique in Southern Illinois mines is incorporated there. A rubber conveyor belt along an 800 foot slope brings all coal out of the mine. Caterpillar tractors haul the coal on the mine level. Compressed air rather than blasting powder breaks down the coal. W.J. Jenkins of St. Louis, president of the company, and his son, G.S. Jenkins developed the mine.
Conductor Billy Bryan used to call “Buckhorn” when his Illinois Central train reached the Herrin station. It was an old nickname for the land around Herrin, given in derision for its lack of fertility.
Buckhorn is a low, branching weed that not even sheep will eat. The seed stalk forms the greater part of the wiry growth. It came to the country in shipments of clover seed, the first pasture planted by the farmers. No lower estimate could be made of soil’s value than to say that buckhorn was its best crop.
A hardpan formed just below the surface contributed to the lack of fertility of the soil around Herrin. Efforts to break up that hardpan, even with dynamite, have been futile since it formed immediately again. Old timers used to say, “The ground is so poor around Herrin you couldn’t raise a fuss on it.” But could they!
(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)