Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mount Grey Mine

Today, despite the ridiculous cold, was a great day for Mr. Standard to head over into my neck of the woods. We did a good bit of running around and decided to stop and have a look at the entrance to the Mt. Grey Mine. I'm calling this post the four seasons post. Some of these photos may be familiar to you from previous posts but they are all part of the Mt. Grey Mine. The reason I'm calling it the four seasons post is some of these were taken during every season. You'll see green leaves, colored leaves, snow, water, and ice but that's Pennsylvania for ya!


The Mount Grey Mine was the first of the Howard Gas Coal Company Mines. You may remember us exploring Howard's Louise Mines last year near Slickville.  The Mount Grey Mine was listed as "just being opened" in the 1904 Report of the Department Of Mines. The only mine map I can locate for this mine is dated 3-12-06.


Later maps of the area show the mine being operated by the Armstrong Westmoreland Coal Company. So like Louise No. 2, this was operated at a later date.




The Howard Gas Coal Company was started by J. Howard Patton. Patton was a superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad from 1870 to 1880. After leaving the railroad he moved to Claridge in 1885 and opened a general store. On January 12, 1891 Patton, who was a heavy investor in the newly formed Claridge Gas Coal Company, acquired 170 acres of coal lands south of the Denmark Mine from Greensburg coal magnate George Huff. Three months later he conveyed the land to Claridge Gas Coal Company. Eventually he would become president of the Atlantic Crushed Coal Co., Lucesco Coal Co., Huron Coal Co.,  as well as Hempfield Foundry and Greensburg Storage and Transfer Co. His son, Howard C. Patton would be superintendent of the Howard Gas Coal Company as well as Huron Coal Company.


J. Howard Patton (Photo courtesy of Mary Jane Shaw)


The Following article from the May 9, 1918 Connellsville Courier contains some great information on the Howard Gas Coal Company as well as some great information on the expansion of the Turtle Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.



The Mount Grey Mine was a very successful mine. The 1914 output of the mine was 112,750.82 tons of coal. It continued to grow considerably over the next four years when it averaged 150,000 to 160,000 tons a year. Comparing the above article to the following 1914 report from that year's Coal Field Directory, you can see they more than doubled their equipment, going from one locomotive in 1914 to four by 1918. They also traded in two electric machines and six compressed air machines for seven Sullivan shortwall machines.




The most impressive thing about this mine however, was its design. Mount Grey used almost every conceivable technique available to deliver its coal to market. Starting with two drift entries, the coal was hauled across flat land to a steep incline down the side of a mountain. Once it reached the bottom it made a sharp right on a railroad grade across a flood plain along the Kiskiminetas River and made a sharp left crossing the river to the tipple along the Western Pennsylvania Railroad on the Indiana County side. 

This is how the mine operated. The piers from the bridge crossing the river still exist as well as some other features located along the river flats. The scale is difficult to comprehend until you look at this map superimposed over an aerial view of the area.

Fortunately I prepared the aerial for you.

Now here is the terrain we're looking at.




This setup lasted until 1917 when the bridge collapsed. After this, the coal was trucked through Saltsburg over to the railroad. Sometime after the bridge collapsed a cable car system was installed using the existing bridge piers.


Photo showing the 1917 bridge collapse. Photo courtesy of Ray Washlaski.



The mine is not listed on the 1923 Pennsylvania Railroad list of stations and sidings and I am not finding anymore information on Mt. Grey after 1920. It's possible the mine was sold and renamed or it was simply worked out and the Howard Gas Coal Company concentrated on its Louise Mines.




The double portal entrance to the Mt. Grey Mine.

Railroad ties in the flooded left portal.

The left portal. Fog and nice warm air was coming out of here.

The right portal.

Looking out the right portal.

Looking out the right portal. This is as far in as we walked.

Brickwork inside the portal.

Mr. Standard looking like he found a new home.



Now we're getting into some of the older stuff. 


This is part of the mine railroad grade at the bottom.

Side of the mine grade.

On top of the grade.

These are some of the remaining piers at the bottom that would have helped with the incline. It's hard to imagine what this operation looked like.

This is the toward the bottom of the steep incline. There is still a lot of coal laying around.

Looking down the steep incline ravine.


 The bridge piers from the land.


Piers from the water.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mayfield (Alverton No. 2) and Carolyn/Peerless Coke Works

Today was a nice, sunny break in the weather and I was also off work. Bonus! I headed over to Alverton to explore a couple more difficult to get to coke plants. Alverton is a historically rich area as far as coal and coke production. We've found ourselves here a good many times over the past few years. 


These two coke plants are both in really bad condition with only a fraction of the ovens remaining. Mayfield (Alverton No. 2) is a very old coke plant dating back to ca. 1878. It was a McClure plant and was renamed Alverton No. 2 in 1899. It contained 55 ovens up until 1890 and after that is listed as having 104. We know that Frick absorbed McClure in 1895 so after this, it kept the name McClure but must have been controlled by Frick. It is not listed as a Frick plant until 1901. I am also finding no mentions of  Alverton No. 2 after 1920. 


Carolyn/Peerless Coke Works on the other hand, is a later coke plant. The Peerless Connellsville Coke Company was organized in 1907 with Wade Echard as President, James M. Doyle - Treasurer and P.W. Simon - Secretary. Others named in the charter include George Wilson, Christian Echard, John M. Mumaw, Samuel Cummings, J.M. Kennel, and Cyrus Echard. Their small coke plant of 32 ovens was named Carolyn and fired in the spring of 1908. I can't find how long they operated the plant under this name. By 1920 the plant was renamed Peerless and was being operated by the Mahoning Coal and Coke Company. After that I lost track of this as well.


Portion of the Alverton No. 2 mine map showing the Mayfield and Carolyn Coke Works. Mayfield, I believe originally started at the bottom and eventually started working its way north. Carolyn never got any bigger. Coincidentally, all that's left of Mayview today is the original part.

Mine map superimposed over a road map. Alverton No. 2 ran along a large portion of Sportsmen Road and ended up almost butting up with Donnelley Coke Works to the north.

Mine map superimposed over a modern aerial view.

This 1939 aerial shows that these two coke plants were still intact but very much abandoned.



Mayfield/Alverton No. 2



These are very old and in very bad condition.

This is probably the best one left.

The old rail bed that headed up to Carolyn after leaving here.

All the ovens at Mayfield were bank ovens.

These two are of the backside of the bank.

This is where the ovens just disappear.











There are only five ovens left here.

What remains are in decent shape though.

There are some nice foundations and piers left.

The rail bed. You can see the bank where the rest of the ovens were to the right.

A couple footers on the ground.

Some sizable coke laying around.

One of the piers.

One of the arch blocks from the ovens.

An oven full of bones. This was a first.

Bricks that fell from the ovens.


Merry Christmas! This is my cat Skippy under the tree.