This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS - See his portfolio and get alerts BEFORE every trade. Learn more NOW!

Coal Decline Hits Fuel's Western Stronghold

That leaves Cooley and others like him stuck between tomorrow's promise and yesterday's boom, in a region with few comparable employment prospects.

"I've never been laid off. Always had a job, since I was 14," said Cooley, whose family will rely on his wife's income as a grocery store cashier until he finds a new job.

As with other laid-off Decker miners interviewed, Cooley hopes Decker rebounds but is looking beyond coal as he searches for new work. He's got applications in at a zinc mine in Alaska, a gold mine in Nevada and to work as a roustabout for an oil company in North Dakota's Bakken oil patch.

Others already have moved on to such places after finding it impossible to match their former wages in Sheridan, a town of 18,000 a short drive across the Montana line from the Decker mine and where most of its workers live.

Hard times have visited before in this part of Wyoming, where coal was euphemistically dubbed "the black diamond" after a boom early last century.

North of Sheridan along the Tongue River can be seen the ruins of now-defunct company-owned coal mining towns such as Monarch, Kleenburn and Acme. Those communities and their underground mines peaked in the 1920s. Their decline left a gap in the economy that wasn't replaced until Decker and other strip mines came along decades later.

After opening in 1972, Decker quickly ramped up to several hundred workers digging up 10 million tons of coal a year, a volume that it produced for its first two decades "like clockwork," said Hal Kansala, who has been working at the mine since 1979. Coal production this year will be less than a third that amount.

Ambre spokeswoman Liz Fuller said the mine remains viable and the company is seeking buyers for its coal. She would not comment on long-term employment prospects except to say the company would look to rehire laid off workers if mining rebounds.

3 of 4

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Try it NOW
Only $9.95
Try it NOW
14-Days Free
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG

Markets

DOW 18,288.63 +155.93 0.86%
S&P 500 2,117.39 +12.89 0.61%
NASDAQ 5,008.0960 +44.5690 0.90%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs