My first introduction to coal was working at the Strasburg Railroad with brothers Ashcat and John. This was a summer job while I was in college many years ago. My responsibility was as a "hostler" (I think that is the spelling of the term)--I got steam locomotives ready for the train crews. This included shaking grates, lubricating, revigorating fires that had been banked overnight, etc. The hoppers were later filled with water and bit coal. I would typically do this for 2 locomotives each morning.
My favorite part of the day was blowing out the condensed water in the smokebox by backing the locomotive carefully and slowly up the tracks, then reversing and coming at full bore back into the train yard. Plenty of smoke, steam, and dirty water raining down on the surrounding fields. By doing this, paying customers would not get sooty "raindrops" on their clothes later in the day. This particular locomotive was a 200 ton, 2-10-0 locomotive.