The coke ovens at Marianna in Washington County are a great example of a later era coke plant. There are two banks of at least 150 ovens and most are in great condition. The ovens in Marianna are "waste heat" beehive coke ovens. The gases from the ovens were recycled to power four Stirling boilers (possibly more later as additional ovens were added), each having a capacity of 500 horsepower.
The coke works originally consisted of 75 ovens and began operations in 1907. The mine, coke works and town were considered state of the art and were constructed by the Pittsburgh-Buffalo Company. Organized on January 4, 1904, the Pittsburgh-Buffalo Company was incorporated from a number of smaller coal companies in the area. The village of Marianna was part of West Bethlehem Township until it was incorporated in 1910.
The 282 new "model" company houses were constructed of yellow brick and included indoor plumbing and electric. Yellow brick was also used to construct the ovens which makes them unusual in that sense alone. A second bank of ovens was added at some point later.
Even with the state of the art mine, which at the time was considered "the finest mine in the world", this was the site of the worst mining disaster in Washington County history. Shortly before 11:00 AM on November 28, 1908 the mine exploded. 154 miners were killed in the explosion.
The population at Marianna was over two thousand in 1910. In 1970 it was down to 872. During the 1920's the mine was acquired by the Bethlehem Steel Company who operated it until 1988 when an underground conveyor belt fire permanently closed the mine.
|Some of the track leading into the mine site.|
|The loading wharf is fully intact through almost all of this area.|
|Closeup of the wharf wall.|
|Some of the yellow brick ovens.|
|A perfect seam between the ovens. I am unsure what the smaller arch below the brick seam is. I've seen these other places but have never been able to figure out what they are.|
|Most of the ovens are numbered.|
|Looking down the bank.|
|See, we're already at oven 138.|
|In this area a power grid is passing over the ovens. The fronts are all missing here.|
|This tree is growing perfectly in the middle on the top of the oven.|
|A small section of nothing.|
|After that are some typical looking stone retaining walls.|
|I'm not sure what the "nooks" in this section of ovens are.|
|The end of the high numbered bank.|
|The start of the low numbered bank.|
|A piece of larry track on top of the ovens.|
|Did they run out of yellow brick here?|
|This is inside of the oven. The chute for the recycled gas is below the trunnel hole and now just appears to go back into the ground.|
|Oven 55 already!!|
|This oven still is partially bricked up.|
|Slowly nature is taking them back.|
|This oven has some steel on its door frame.|
|Back to all yellow brick.|
|Oven 23 has a nice steel plate on the front.|
|Time to make it through this tangled mess.|
|A big pile of coke.|
|Some red brick mixed in with the yellow.|
|I'm not sure what this piece of hardware is....|
|But it fits snuggly over the bracket.|
|This lower section has piles on coke sitting in front of all the ovens.|
|Oven number 2.|
|Oven number 1 is a mess of vines.|
|The end of the bank.|
|Some piers for the larry track.|
|Standing on one of the piers with my souvenir coke. Coke is great for landscaping.|
|This large structure is at the end of the bank.|
|The slots in the side line up perfectly with the larry piers.|
|The other side of the structure.|
|The front again. The fenced in square is the location of Rachel Shaft.|
|One of the old mine buildings.|
|Another mine building. These buildings are being used.|
|On the way out I came across this drain using old mine track for the grate.|
|More abandoned track.|
|Looking back at the ovens from the track.|
This is a link to a great page with many old photos of Marianna.
A diagram of the waste heat beehive coke ovens at Marianna.
|An early newspaper account of the 1908 explosion. It is best to download this photo so you can zoom in on it and read it.|
A nice video of the Marianna Coke Works can be found here.
Here is a link to a recent newspaper article describing the decline of the town of Marianna as well as other towns in the area.