Cokeville, like Livermore and Filmore, was a victim of the Conemaugh River flood control project in the 1950's. Following the St. Patrick's Day flood of 1936 the Army Corp Of Engineers began planning a dam project on the Conemaugh River to harness the flood waters. There were 122 structures in Cokeville on a 1951 map. In 1952, as the town was being evacuated for the flood control project most of these structures were razed but some were moved up the hill to Cokeville Heights near Rt. 217.
The town traces its roots back to 1858 when it was known as Broad Fording, due to it's easy crossing on the Conemaugh River. Cokeville was served by the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal until the Pennsylvania Railroad located it's tracks along the canals towpath around 1864. The name was changed in the early 1870's to Coketown, Coketon and finally Cokeville after The Isabella Furnace Coke Company erected a 200 oven coke plant on the hillside above the town. The town was incorporated in 1887.
The coke produced here was shipped to the Isabella Blast Furnace in Etna, PA on the Allegheny River. The H.C. Frick Coke Company took over the operation around 1901 and the ovens went out permanently in 1903.
The only things remaining here today are the bridge abutments of the road bridge from Blairsville as well as the railroad bridge abutments a little further up the river. There are still concrete roads on the two sides of the town and a few fragments of the side streets. The only remains of the coke plant I could locate were some impressions in the ground, a single crown brick from a beehive oven and a couple pieces of coke. I think whenever Torrance Road went in it took out a lot of the coke bank but I could be wrong. The ovens could simply be buried after 110 years.
|This is the road leading down into Cokeville.|
|This abandoned bridge is the first crossing into the old town.|
|One of the bridge sides.|
|This is looking off the bridge at an old retaining wall for one of the rail lines going in or out of the town from the coke plant.|
|These are the bridge abutments linking Blairsville to Cokeville.|
|Looking over to the Blairsville side.|
|Someone hung a ladder on this one. It's probably a nice summer swimming hole.|
|This is the concrete road heading up from the other side of town towards the area where the coke ovens should be.|
|This is where the coke ovens should be. It looks like a bank, has impressions in the ground and the only thing missing is the ovens.|
|This is the single brick I found with the two small pieces of coke.|
|Some stone laying in one of the impressions in the ground.|
|Heading back towards the river to check out the railroad bridge abutments.|
|A couple interesting trees.|
|These are the railroad bridge abutments.|
|This is looking over to the Blairsville side at an orange waterfall from ferric hydroxide mine drainage.|
|This looks like it could be an old railroad mileage marker or a "W" signal marker telling the train engineer to blow it's whistle before entering Blairsville.|
|This is looking over at Cokeville from Blairsville.|
|The end of the road in Blairsville.|
|The river wasn't very high this day so you could walk right up to one of the abutments.|
|Water level chart.|
|A closeup of the stone work on the abutments.|
|Some old hardware on the side of the abutment.|
|Looking over at Cokeville.|
Return to Cokeville. 11/30/13
I went back out to Cokeville to try again to track down these coke ovens. I followed the old rail line and traced it across Torrance Road and pretty much ended up in the same area I was before. This time I looked a little harder and all I came up with was one almost completely buried oven, a few more bricks, and a lot more coke. This oven is the last remaining oven back there that I can find. It's a true testament that 110 years is more than enough time to remove visible traces of coke ovens. They are pretty far up from the river and I'm not sure how flooded this area gets but that might have played a factor too.
|This was at the start. By the railroad bridge at McGee Run.|
|And this is it as far as physical evidence of coke ovens.|
|This is the bank where the oven I found was part of. The rail line is hardly level and difficult to navigate too.|
|Another piece of crown brick.|
|Another burned up brick.|
|The brick in front of the almost completely buried coke oven.|
|A small piece of railroad tie.|