Previous investigations have not well defined the controls on the development of minable coals in fluvial environments. This study was undertaken to provide a clearer understanding of these controls, particularly in of the lower Tertiary coal-bearing deposits of the Raton and Powder River basins in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. In this region, large amounts of coals accumulated in swamps formed in the flow-through fluvial systems that infilled these intermontane basins. Extrabasinal and intrabasinal tectonism partly controlled the stratigraphic and facies distributions of minable coal deposits. The regional accumulation of coals was favored by the rapid basin subsidence coupled with minimal uplift of the source area. During these events, coals developed in swamps associated with anastomosed and meandering fluvial systems and alluvial fans. The extensive and high rate of sediment input from these fluvial systems promoted the formation of ombrotrophic, raised swamps, which produced low ash and anomalously thick coals. The petrology and palynology of these coals, and the paleobotany of the associated sediments, suggest that ombrotrophic, raised swamps were common in the Powder River Basin, where the climate during the early Tertiary was paratropical. The paleoecology of these swamps is identical to that of the modern ombrotrophic, raised swamps of the Baram and Mahakam Rivers of Borneo. ?? 1993.