Log In | Account Info
Cart | Checkout
Diamonds in the Rough, Diamonds in the Rough, 0817317945, 0-8173-1794-5, 978-0-8173-1794-2, 9780817317942, , , Diamonds in the Rough, 0817386742, 0-8173-8674-2, 978-0-8173-8674-0, 9780817386740, , , Diamonds in the Rough, 081735834X, 0-8173-5834-X, 978-0-8173-5834-1, 9780817358341,

Diamonds in the Rough
A History of Alabama's Cahaba Coal Field
James Sanders Day

E Book
2013. 224 pp.
27 B&W illustrations, including 2 maps / 2 tables
Price:  $34.95 d
Quality Paper
2015. 224 pp.
27 B&W illustrations, including 2 maps / 2 tables
Price:  $34.95 s

Diamonds in the Rough reconstructs the historical moment that defined the Cahaba Coal Field, a mineral-rich area that stretches across sixty-seven miles and four counties of central Alabama.
Combining existing written sources with oral accounts and personal recollections, James Sanders Day’s Diamonds in the Rough describes the numerous coal operations in this region—later overshadowed by the rise of the Birmingham district and the larger Warrior Field to the north.
Many of the capitalists are the same: Truman H. Aldrich, Henry F. DeBardeleben, and James W. Sloss, among others; however, the plethora of small independent enterprises, properties of the coal itself, and technological considerations distinguish the Cahaba from other Alabama coal fields. Relatively short-lived, the Cahaba coal-mining operation spanned from discovery in the 1840s through development, boom, and finally bust in the mid-1950s.
Day considers the chronological discovery, mapping, mining, and marketing of the field’s coal as well as the issues of convict leasing, town development, welfare capitalism, and unionism, weaving it all into a rich tapestry. At the heart of the story are the diverse people who lived and worked in the district—whether operator or miner, management or labor, union or nonunion, white or black, immigrant or native—who left a legacy for posterity now captured in Diamonds in the Rough. Largely obscured today by pine trees and kudzu, the mining districts of the Cahaba Coal Field forever influenced the lives of countless individuals and families, and ultimately contributed to the whole fabric of the state of Alabama.

Winner of the 2014 Clinton Jackson Coley Award for Best Work on Alabama Local History from the Alabama Historical Association

James Sanders Day is an assistant vice president for academic affairs and an associate professor of history at the University of Montevallo. A 1979 graduate of the United States Military Academy, Day has taught history at West Point, Marion Military Institute, Judson College, and Auburn University-Montgomery. The author of several journal articles on related topics, this is Day’s first book.

"In Diamonds in the Rough, Jim Day rescues the land and people of the Cahaba coal fields from historical obscurity, exposing them to a larger audience than can the local museums and historical societies that dot the district. He makes the story of the people available and interesting to avocational historians without sacrificing the analysis demanded by academics." —Alabama Review

“Day’s discovery of massive documentation of the earliest geological and economic development of the antebellum Bibb-Shelby County coal industry is a remarkable accomplishment. More important, he has mastered the complex financial and social structures, which are essential for any understanding of the subject. His work on I. T. Tichenor and the complicated coal baron rivalries and alliances of the Reconstruction era are no less important. Day writes as an honest broker, presenting both sides of the complicated management-labor divide without the special pleading either way that accompanies far too much labor history in Alabama. . . . This is rich social, economic, and labor history at its best.”—Wayne Flynt, author of Poor But Proud: Alabama's Poor Whites and Keeping the Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives


Diamonds in the Rough will serve as an excellent addition to the literature on southern industrialization. Day has done a great deal of research that he has worked into an accessible, thorough, and very clear history of the Cahaba coal field." –Sean Patrick Adams,author of Old Dominion, Industrial Commonwealth: Coal, Politics, and Economy in Antebellum America

“While concentrating on the Cahaba Coal Field, Diamonds in the Rough focuses on mining practices and labor problems throughout the coal industry in the Birmingham district from the mid-1800s to the 1970s. Not only is Day's book an appealing account, it is an excellence reference and adds to the collective knowledge of the mining industry at a place where it originated just prior to the Civil War. It belongs in the bookshelves of all who love to explore Alabama's industrial beginnings.”–James R. Bennett,author of Tannehill and the Growth of the Alabama Iron Industry and coauthor of Iron and Steel: A Guide to Birmingham Area Industrial Heritage Sites