Saturday, January 19, 2013

Livermore Bridge

#Livermore, PA #Ghost Towns #Westmoreland County, PA #Conemaugh River #West Penn Trail

Mutual & Helen Coke Ovens

These ovens are sitting behind a farmhouse near Mutual. They were part of the Helen Mine and Coke Works which was a small merchant plant. They appear to be in very good condition.

Many more detailed photos of these ovens can be seen here.

These ovens seem to be all that's left of the Mutual Coke Works that I could locate without trespassing on posted property. If anybody has access to the posted property please get a hold of me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Old railroad bridge

Upper Whyel Coke Works

Brinkerton, PA Hester Coke Works/Brinkerton Coke Works

The Hester Coke Works, containing 50 ovens, were first fired in 1900 by the Painter and Fogg Company. In circa 1903 the Painter and Fogg Company was acquired by the Penn Coke Company of Leetonia, OH, possibly to supply coke to The Leetonia Iron and Coal Company's steel plant located in that town.

Circa 1909, The Sunshine Coal and Coke Company, who secured a contract that same year supplying the J.K. Dimmick Co. of Philadelphia with all their coke,  purchased the plant. This company sold all of their coke plants in 1914 and after that there is no mention of the Hester Coke Works that I could find. In the 1916 list of active coke plants Hester is not listed. 

 It appears that all 50 ovens remain in this block, and this site is one of the better preserved sites that I have found. 

Currently the site is leased by The Sewickley Creek Watershed Association who operate a AMD treatment facility here. The treatment facility is quite impressive, containing 3 ponds with a filtering system to clean the water seeping from the nearby Brinkerton mine before it enters the creek. 

In the March 5, 1971 Observer Reporter is an article about the illegal use of 40 ovens near Brinkerton. The Dept. of Environmental Resources filed a compliant with the Commonwealth against the Queen Coal Company's Oliver Painter (possibly a descendent of Painter and Fogg?), doing business as the Alverton Fuel Company for operating the ovens without a permit. The case was eventually dismissed in April 1971.

The concrete block on the stone retaining wall might indicate that these ovens were actually used after 1914.

With a little TLC these ovens have the potential to be a fully restored block of beehive ovens.

Most of the original brick seems to remain intact.

A little bit of graffiti is not uncommon and old coke sites. This is also a popular area for dirt bikes.

The Sewickley Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad is still easy to follow from here. I road my mountain bike almost the whole way to Mammoth from here. This area offers a lot of  potential.

Remaining original hardware.

The ovens on the backside of the block seem to be in worse condition.

This one needs help.

Fully intact trunnel holes remain on top of the ovens.

 I would be really interested in working to restore these ovens. Since the ovens were removed at Mammoth Park there really isn't a very accessible place to observe old coke plants.

North of the Hester ovens is where the Brinkerton Coke Works was. I'm not sure when they got torn out but they are all gone. They were first fired in 1901 by H.C, Frick Coke Company and contained 240 ovens. All that's left now is stripped banks where the ovens used to be.

Some bricks and stone are all that remain.