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History - June 10, 2016

This is a postcard showing coal mine no. 1 at the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas, 1920s. (Photo Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society /

Today's Kansas Trivia Question comes to us courtesy of Ted Heim, KPR's all-time trivia champ!  

Q: At one time, the state of Kansas owned and operated a coal mine. Where was it located?

A: Lansing, or more specifically, the state penitentiary at Lansing, Kansas
According to part-time historian, KPR Trivia Champ and Topeka resident Ted Heim, the state penitentiary began coal production in 1881 and continued until its closing in 1947 when the tunnels ran increasingly long distance and coal production and profits decreased. The penitentiary paid inmates a handsome wage compared to those inmates working in factories or on the farm above ground.  

For more information about Prisons and Prisoners in Kansas, Click HERE.
At one time, Ted Heim was an administrator of Kansas penal institutions (but, to our knowledge, he never shoveled any coal in Lansing!). He wrote about the history of the mine at the state penitentiary as part of his college thesis paper.

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