Abandoned 19th century coal mine causing land in Indiana town to sink

VIGO COUNTY, IN (WTHI) – Could even the smallest crack or dip on your property reveal something more?

“All I saw one evening was all of these lights, and I thought what is going on,” said Janet Campbell, who would never have guessed her neighbor’s land was sinking. “I’ve heard over time that the mines were out in this area, especially when U.S. 40 sunk two or three years ago,” said Campbell.

A coal mine was abandoned in the Seelyville area during the 1800’s, but now the threat it left behind hits a little closer to home.

“Kind of scary, because we’re out in this yard all the time and I have grandchildren that are out here so it’s concerning,” said Campbell.

The driveway of the home, across the street from Campbell, has sunk 2-3 feet in just a matter of days.

“And that’s created when there’s a void under the surface, in this case, the void that is influencing this is 80-feet below the surface,” said Brent Spier, the Town Manager.

The family recently noticed the dip in the driveway, as well as the cracks on the front porch. They allowed News 10 on the property to get video of the damage but declined to comment.

“The immediate dangers are the utilities, but long-term if left unchecked it can crack the foundation, pull in a basement wall, and even throw a house out of plumb,” said Spier, who is urging other area homeowners to be on the look-out.

“The potential for others is pretty great. The whole area is under-mine. There are 560 structures in town, so it’s possible I guess for any of them,” said Spier.

Campbell is just one resident already taking steps to ensure her family’s safety. “Still checking on the insurance, and it’s a little bit expensive, but it may be worth it in the long run,” she said.

For details on mine subsidence insurance, contact your insurance agent or the Indiana Subsidence Insurance Fund at the Indiana Department of Insurance.

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