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Maxine is a former coal mining community located in a bend of the Locust Fork River, southwest of Praco, in western Jefferson County.

The drift mines at Maxine worked the 42-inch thick Pratt Seam and the 44-inch America Seam. The mines were opened by Erskine Ramsay's Pratt Consolidated Coal Co. in around 1903, shortly after the Birmingham Mineral Railroad's Cane Creek Branch reached the area. The underground seam was excavated using the "room and pillar", in which wide square piers of coal were left in place to support the roof for the extent of the operation, and then "robbed" as operations moved back toward the entrance, often leading to collapses of the exhausted areas.

In 1908 M. Warren was the superintendent of works and William Askew was the mine boss.

Coal from Maxine, marketed as "Pratt Coal," was shipped on the Mary Lee Railroad to Birmingham and later on the Ensley Southern Railroad to Birmingport.

In 1915 the company completed an electric tram line connecting the mine to the edge of the reservoir impounded by the new Bankhead Lock and Dam. Maxine coal was some of the first Alabama coal to reach the international market.

In 1920 the Maxine Mines produced a total of 70,580 tons of coal according to one reference, and 102,832 tons of coal according to another. J. F. Webb was the mine superintendent, supervising 106 miners, in 1921.

The Pratt Company was acquired by the Alabama By-Products Corporation (ABC) in 1925. ABC reopened and mechanized the idle Maxine mines in 1952 to supply steam coal for electrical generation. The development was lauded as the first major mine opening in Alabama for decades. Southern Company subsidiaries Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Alabama Power entered into a long-term with ABC to purchase the coal, and during the 1970s Maxine was the second-most productive mine operation in the Birmingham District, after U.S. Steel's Concord mines. During that decade, however, the costs of domestic coal began to greatly exceed imported fuel. The Florida Public Service Commission found that the Gulf Power Company's contract to buy coal from Maxine was detrimental to its ratepayers and ordered the utility to refund $2 million, and that order was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court in 1986.

The Maxine Mine was closed in 1983 and ABC was acquired by the Drummond Corporation in 1985.

In 2006 Black Warrior Riverkeeper began documenting acidic run-off from an unnamed tributary into the Locust Fork which had been dammed up for use as a settlement pond for runoff from the mine's waste pile. The Southern Environmental Law Center and Public Justice filed a lawsuit in 2016 accusing Drummond of violating the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation Recovery Act. Judge Abdul Kallon ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2019, agreeing that Drummond should be responsible for cleaning up the site. Meanwhile Black Warrior Riverkeeper filed another lawsuit in October 2021 based on new reports of polluted discharges being pumped out of the mine.

In a May 2022 consent decree, Drummond agreed to clean up the mine site between 2025 and 2027, and to pay a $10,000 penalty to the United States, fund $1 million of supplemental environmental projects in the area, and reimburse the plaintiffs for $2.65 million in litigation costs. Judge Kallon approved the terms of the settlement as satisfying his consent decree in August 2022.


Salvatore Puma was killed in a rock fall at the Maxine Mine in 1920. Anthony Studdard met the same fate in 1979.


  • Flynn, Ed (1908) "Report of Inspector of Alabama Coal Mines" Birmingham: Thornton Bros. Engineers - via Samford University Library Special Collections
  • White, Marjorie Longenecker (1981) The Birmingham District: An Industrial History and Guide. Birmingham: Birmingham Historical Society ISBN 9990230099
  • Whitson, Charles E. (2013) Alabama Mine Map Repository: Directory Of Underground Mine Maps. Birmingham: Alabama Department of Labor
  • Black, Hank (May 20, 2019) "Judge in Historic Ruling Says Drummond Violating Clean Water Act Because of Ongoing Discharge From Closed Mine." BirminghamWatch
  • "Black Warrior Riverkeeper Files Notice of Intent to Sue Drummond for Pumping Polluted Water." (October 28, 2021) press release
  • Pillion, Dennis (May 18, 2022) "Drummond agrees to clean up Alabama mine leaking into Black Warrior River, pay $3.6M." The Birmingham News
  • Pillion, Dennis (August 12, 2022) "Coal company to pay $3.65 million, clean up abandoned mine on Black Warrior River." The Birmingham News

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