January 1918 was very cold in most of the northeastern United States, and apparently many people burned coal to keep themselves warm. Unfortunately coal was in short supply that winter. In its January 20, 1918 “Graphic” section the New York Tribune detailed coal’s production and included a photograph showing people in Philadelphia raiding a train to procure some of the valuable fuel.
You can read more about the coal shortage in the United States during the winter of 1917-1918 at United States History – the Fuel Administration. Harry A. Garfield, son of President James Garfield, served as the fuel czar. He ordered the partial closing of some industries 100 years ago to conserve coal. The January 18, 1918 issue of The New-York Times reported that Mr. Garfield wanted to free up coal so that ships filled with supplies for the war in Europe would be able to fuel up and deliver the goods.