Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cyrilla Coke Works/American No. 1

The Cyrilla Coke Works began operations between 1901 and 1906. The earliest mention I found of the plant was the 1907 purchase by the Rocks Coal and Coke Company from the Monongahela River Consolidated Coal and Coke Company. In the August 15, 1907 edition of the Coal And Coke trade journal it states that the Rocks Company expected to expend about $500,000 in the development of the tract and the construction of 210 additional ovens. At this point Cyrilla contained 90 ovens. It also states that the coal tract had been operated by the selling company for "a number of years". 

The Rocks Coal and Coke Company appears to have been operated by the Soisson Family. Four family members were officers in the company along with original partner Francis Rocks. Rocks sold his holdings to the Soisson family but the company kept the original name.

Jump to 1914. The Cyrilla Plant, containing 142 ovens, is now under the ownership of the Sunshine Coal and Coke Company and things aren't looking good. The Cyrilla Plant is one of nine plants owned by Sunshine that is going into sheriffs sale. The reason for the foreclosure  due to failing to make payment to Monongahela River Consolidated. Now, the President of the Sunshine Coal and Coke Company just happened to be one Francis Rocks. My guess, obviously, is that somewhere within these 7 years the Rocks Coal and Coke Company was reorganized as the Sunshine Coal and Coke Company. 

In January 1914 the Sunshine Coal and Coke Company was attempting to reorganize to avoid the sheriffs sale scheduled for February 23. This didn't buy them a lot of time if they did in fact reorganize. The plant was sold to the American Steel Company of Pittsburgh in a public sale on December 16, 1914 for $300,000. 

According to the August 14, 1915 issue of the Black Diamond coal trade journal, all ovens at Cyrilla were in blast. The American Steel Company's new subsidiary, the American Connellsville Coal and Coke Company had renamed the plant American No. 1. This plant was still in operation as late as 1923 after A.C.C.C.C. went into receivership over a January 27, 1920 deal when the property was deeded from the American Connellsville Coal and Coke Company to the American Coke Company. Probably just a reorganization of the previous company. This would definitely be a different American Coke Company than the one that operated in the late 1800's and early 1900's as it was acquired by H.C. Frick Coke Company in 1903. If anybody has more information on the American Steel Company or the American Connellsville Coal and Coke Company please contact me.

These ovens are located across the road from Linn, PA where I did an earlier post on the coke plant located there. For that post follow this link:


These ovens ranged from very intact to very deteriorated. Some of the worst ones were almost completely buried.

The mismatched brick work on a lot of these ovens lead me to believe that somebody was operating them later than the 1920's.

One of the nearly buried ovens.

It almost seemed like somebody took parts off certain ovens and added them to others. The section of intact ovens were all together and contained strange patterns of brick and stone.

Looking out of one of the more deteriorated ovens.

It still contained a nice concrete ring trunnel hole.

This is what I meant by mismatched brickwork.

Artsy mosaic coke oven.

The end of an intact section and the beginning of a deteriorated one.

These ones were really nice.

Still very intact inside.

Notice the different brickwork on these two ovens.

An intact piece of hardware.

A really nice brick front.

This is looking back from the end of the bank. All the ovens are on the left behind the green vegetation.

A view from across the field.

Old abutments from the railroad branch that served these works. On the other side of the creek are the Mount Hope Coke Works.