Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bennington Shaft and Coke Works

I've been having a tough time finding a whole lot of information about these coke ovens. The earliest mention I have found states that in 1870's, Cambria Iron acquired the holdings of the Blair Iron and Coal Company and it's works at Bennington. A coke-fired iron furnace had been in blast here as early as 1846. Throughout the 1870's and 1880's Cambria Iron operated 100 coke ovens, employed 300 men and built 95 houses at Bennington. 

A bit of confusion arises from another coking operation that was located near here. The Pennsylvania Coal and Coke Company operated two batteries of 200 ovens. After looking at an old mine map and reading up on the Bennington coke ovens, this area is looking more clearly as Bennington Shaft.

An 1878 report by the Bureau Of Industrial Statistics Of Pennsylvania describes this coke plant as having a set of 100 ovens. It gives its location as a short distance east of the eastern portal of the Pennsylvania Railroads' Allegheny Tunnel. It further describes them as being in a double row. All these points, along with the mine map convince me that these are the Bennington Ovens. 

Today there is a single block of pretty deteriorated ovens located here and that's about it. I also don't know how long ago these ovens went cold. They are pretty easy to access and the property wasn't posted so that's a plus.

This is the overall condition of most of these ovens.

It's a nice site though.

This one kept a little bit of it's stone front.

A view from on top of the block.

Looking down through the trunnel hole.

Besides trees, most of the foliage was ferns. Lots and lots of ferns.

This is one of the ends of the block.

When we left we went through Gallitzin to check out the tunnel. This is the western portal. The eastern portal was back by the coke ovens.

Some of the stuff sitting at the museum in Gallitzin.

I tried to get closeups of the plaques on the tunnel.

I zoomed into them with the computer and they came out pretty good.

William H. Brown is a very familiar name to me. He was also responsible for, among other things, the Brilliant Branch Viaduct. The huge bridge in Homewood, Pittsburgh that can be seen while driving on Washington Boulevard.


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