Reclamation of drastically disturbed minesoils and subsequent planting of trees and/or grasses can result in a rapid build-up of carbon (C) in the soil. However, the amount of C sequestered in reclaimed minesoils may vary with the amount of time since reclamation. In this study, we assessed total carbon (TC) and total nitrogen (TN) concentrations for reclaimed minesoils located in northeastern Ohio and characterized by distinct reclamation age chronosequences. Reclaimed minesoils studied were R78G, reclaimed in 1978 and immediately seeded to grass; R82GT, reclaimed in 1982 and immediately seeded to grass and trees were planted 5 years later; and R87G, reclaimed in 1987 and immediately seeded to grass. An unmined site, UMG, was also included as a reference. Our objectives were to evaluate the variability with respect to mean and the spatial variability of pH, bulk density (ρb), TC and TN concentrations, and stocks in each reclaimed minesoil. Thirty soil samples were collected at each of the 0–15, 15–30, and 30–50 cm depth. The coefficient of variation (CV) for ρb was least, <15 per cent at each site and depth. For TN concentration and stock, CV was moderate, 15–35 per cent, in each field except the UMG where it was high, >35 per cent at 0–15, and 15–30 cm depths. For TC concentration and stocks, CV was high, >35 per cent, across all minesoils and generally increased with depth. The C/N ratio followed the same tend as TC and TN stocks and ranged from 40 per cent to 123 per cent across minesoils. Geostatistical analysis also showed an increase in sample variance with increasing amount of time since reclamation for most soil properties under investigation. Sample variance for TC concentration and stocks also increased with depth in reclaimed minesoils. However, no definite relationship emerged between amount of time since reclamation and the spatial dependence of TC and TN concentrations and stocks. Overall this study showed that reclamation of drastically disturbed minesoils increased the soil C concentration and stocks and reclamation by initially seeding to grasses followed by planting trees was the best management option for speedy accretion of soil C and soil quality enhancement. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.