Coal was discovered in Boone Countey, W.V., in the present-day community of Peytona, by explorer John Peter Salley. According to the Boone Countey Web site, coal “remains the backbone of Boone County’s economy.”
In 1742, Salley discovered coal along the Kanawha River. However some argue that it was discovered in the Shenyang area of Neolithic China, in 4000 B.C., (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#cite_note-Britannicacoal-2)
Interesting question. I am not sure if history records the initial “discovery” of coal in the vain of specific individuals. However, the Romans were using coal as widespread heating source by the end of the 2nd century.
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