Situated on the Cumberland Basin, a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundy, Joggins is a former coal mining area. Its coal seams which are exposed along the shore of the Cumberland Basin were exploited as early as the 17th century by local Acadian settlers, however the first commercial mining dates to 1819 with much of the early production being shipped by sea to Saint John, New Brunswick and other markets.
Large scale industrialization came to Cumberland County under the General Mining Association, which held the rights to the area's coal fields. Production increased after the construction of the Intercolonial Railway in the 1870s, followed by the 1887 opening of the Joggins Railway, a 12 mile rail line from mines at Joggins to the Intercolonial mainline at Maccan, via River Hebert.
Coal mining grew in such importance that the community was incorporated as a town in 1919, a status that it maintained until 1949, when the decline of local coal mines resulted in out migration and economic decline.
Coal mined at Joggins during the first decades of the 20th century primarily fed 2 electrical generating stations near Maccan, however these plants were outdated by the 1950s and the mines closed shortly after the Springhill Mining Disaster in 1958. Rail service was abandoned to the community in the early 1960s.
The dramatic coastal exposure of the Coal Age rocks, known as the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, are continually hewn and freshly exposed by the actions of the tides in the Cumberland Basin. The fame of Joggins dates to the mid-nineteenth century, and the visits in 1842 and 1852 by Sir Charles Lyell, the founder of modern geology and author of Principles of Geology. In his Students' Elements of Geology (1871), Lyell proclaimed the Joggins exposure of Coal Age rocks and fossils to be "the finest example in the world".
Much of the fossil record at Joggins was discovered by Nova Scotian geologist Sir William Dawson (1820-1899), who had a close personal and working relationship with his friend and mentor Sir Charles Lyell. Much of Dawson's collection resides at the Redpath Museum of McGill University.
In 1852 Lyell and Dawson made a celebrated discovery of tetrapod fossils entombed within an upright tree at Coal Mine Point. Subsequent investigations by Dawson led to the discovery of one of the most important fossils in the history of science, Hylonomus lyelli, which remains the earliest known reptile in the history of life, and thus the oldest known amniote, the group that includes all vertebrates that have the capacity to reproduce free of water, comprising all reptiles, the extinct dinosaurs and their kin, the birds, as well as mammals. In 2002, Hylonomus lyelli was named the provincial fossil of Nova Scotia.
Other notable nineteenth century geologists who worked at Joggins include Abraham Gesner, inventor of kerosene, and Sir William Logan, who measured the cliffs bed by bed for the Geological Survey of Canada.
In 2007, a 15 km length of the coast comprising the Joggins Fossil Cliffs was nominated by Canada to UNESCO as a natural World Heritage Site. It was officially inscribed on the World Heritage List in on July 7, 2008
Earliest history of coal mining and grindstone quarrying at Joggins, Nova Scotia, and its implications for the meaning of the place name "Joggins".
Jan 01, 2009; ABSTRACT The rich history of coal mining and grindstone quarrying at Joggins, Nova Scotia, prior to Lyell's visit in 1842...
The Pennsylvanian Joggins Formation of Nova Scotia: sedimentological log and stratigraphic framework of the historic fossil cliffs.
Jul 01, 2005; ABSTRACT Carboniferous strata of the famous Joggins fossil cliffs hold a unique place in the history of geology. Made...
"Such a section as never was put together before": Logan, Dawson, Lyell, and mid-Nineteenth-Century measurements of the Pennsylvanian Joggins section of Nova Scotia.(William Edmond Logan )(Biography)
Jul 01, 2005; ABSTRACT William Edmond Logan assumed his duties as the first head of the Geological Survey of Canada in June 1843. Two...