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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Until the transition from coal to other fuels that began in earnest in the 1950s, nearly every home in New England was heated either with wood or its more convenient alternative, coal. By the early 19th century, most of the country's coal was mined in Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley and transported to homes throughout the country. It was then delivered by local coal companies in wagons much like this. The coal delivery man then shoveled a home's delivery of coal into a coal chute. Coal chutes can be found in most homes built before the 1920s. Often they are ground-level metal doors that lead into a small room in the home's basement - the coal room - located near what was then the furnace. Coal, although dirty and unpleasant by modern standards, was a tremendous step forward when it became widely used in North America. With it, a much higher density of housing could be achieved, the number of chimney fires were reduced, and many more forests preserved.
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