The coke ovens at Tarrs date back to 1873 and were started by The D.L. Dillinger & Bro. Company as the Dillinger Tarr Plant. They operated the mine and coke works until 1886 when it was acquired by the South West Coal and Coke Company for $85,000. They renamed the plant and mine Southwest No. 3.
The South West Coal and Coke Company were a collaborative venture started by the three major Illinois steel companies of the time. Union, Joliet, and the North Chicago Rolling Mill Company were investing in coke operations in the Connellsville district to feed their mills as well as control their coke supply. Holding a minority share in this company was Henry Clay Frick who also served as President. Frick, being the experienced coke maker made operational decisions.
During the late 1890's Frick disassociated himself from the South West Coal and Coke Company and the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Illinois Steel.
In 1903 the H.C. Frick Coke Company returned and bought the coke plant and mine and operated it until it's closing in 1923.
The coke ovens today are extremely deteriorated and the mine buildings and dump have been reclaimed. There are many craters in the woods from mine subsidence but whether these are from this mine or an old country bank mine in the area are not known. Standing in the woods you can actually see the rooms and pillars from the depressions in the ground. The ovens sit along an active railroad and according to old maps there were two banks to the north and south of Emory Hill Road. I could not locate the ovens to the north. These photos are of the south bank.
|This one is just about gone.|
|If this wasn't in a bank of ovens it would be almost unidentifiable.|
|As bad as this oven is, this was one in better condition.|
|Just a slither on the surface but still deep inside.|
|Brickwork is still pretty much intact. No cracks.|
|It's amazing how the brickwork can vary from oven to oven.|
|This oven retained a small portion of its trunnel hole.|