Did you Know That coal was drilled in Heppen?
Based on the text “Heppen rond de jaren 1900 Deel 3 van 3” (magazine De HEIKAPPER – Year 40 – April 2021 – nb 1)
Translation by Patrick MARQUENIE
The first drilling of the entire circumference, before Beringen, was done in Heppen, behind the station (Beringsesteenweg, before the border with Beverlo). The derrick stood between the street and the railway, and that for several years.
On working days you could not reach it, it was fenced, on Sundays, there was a guard and then people could go inside. Inside you could see the iron pipes of about 80 cm. diameter.
Later the tower was demolished and the well closed, but those pipes are still there in the ground. The tower was transferred to Beringen and they started drilling in Stal and in all the villages around.
In the years 1905-1906 a team of surveyors started measuring, weeks, even months at a time: all the parcels up to Beverlo, up to Heppen village, and up to Korspel.
After the war in 1919, the new arm of the railway was laid from Heppen station to Beringen-Mines and on to Genk.
It was foreseen that all the coal from the Kempen mines would come to Heppen station. One branch of the railway had come to Leopoldsburg, it is still there, and the other arm that went to Beringen-Mines.
All the plots located in the triangle of the lines Diest-Leopoldsburg, Leopoldsburg-Korspel, and Heppen-Korspel were seized and bought up. There would be the largest workshops in all of Belgium to repair railroad wagons and machines. It was to become the largest freight station in all of Belgium. The former representative of the people, also the former director of the Hasselt craft school, engineer Van Caeneghem has come (he later became a minister himself) and he has worked out a plan for digging a canal from Antwerp to the Maas.
That plan was brought to parliament and approved. The Albert Canal was dug later and everything that was planned in Heppen came to a standstill. There are no workshops and no large station. The coal went to the Albert Canal from Genk, Winterslag, Houthalen, and all other mines.
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