Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lafayette Coke Works- Helen, PA

The Lafayette Coke Works date back to ca. 1900 and were built by the Lafayette Coke Company of Helen, PA. After this it gets a little bit confusing. The 1904 Official Railway Equipment Register Of The United States requests that mileage reports and repair bills be forwarded to the Atlas Coke Company of Leetonia, Ohio. It also lists two separate identifications on the cars. One with Lafayette Coke Works in Helen, PA and one with Lafayette Coke Works in nearby Waltersburg, PA. The 1915 Railway Equipment Register lists the same information but omits Waltersburg, PA. The confusion lies between 1904 and 1915. The January 8, 1908 edition of the Connellsville Weekly Courier lists Atlas Coke Company as being based in Waltersburg. On March 4, 1909 the same source lists Atlas in Helm. After this, and up until December 29, 1932 the Atlas Coke Company is located in Uniontown. This is also the last mention of the Lafayette Coke Works that I can locate. 


As far as I can tell the Lafayette Coke Works contained 220 ovens between January 27, 1905 and March 4, 1909. After this all reports list it as having 200 ovens.

Another issue is how little information is available about Helen, PA. There was a company town there at one time and it was served by the Lafayette Supply Co. store. Today nothing exists of a town in this location. Any information on Helen and Lafayette Coke Works would be greatly appreciated.


Today there is one block of beehive coke ovens at the Lafayette Coke Works. Almost all the ovens are in relatively poor condition. The surprise came on the back side of the block where there were seven ovens in very good condition. 


The end of the block.

Eureka brick around the trunnel hole.

Looking out.

A nice example of block floor tile.

Most of the ovens were in this condition.

The ovens on this side got buried toward the end.

On the other side of the buried end were the intact ovens.

Mostly intact, some missing brick.

A nice pile of unmarked brick.

Other than the seven intact ovens, the rest on the back side of the block are in the same condition as the front.
On the way out we came across this red tailed hawk that was hanging out near the road.

He would fly off and come right back.



  1. Helen Mine, Helen, Fayette Co., PA
    [Letter from Theresa Minerd, ca.1999, Minerd Reunion Book.]
    As young parents, Thomas Michael and Anna Dziak Minerd resided in the patch town of Helen, Fayette County. The patches were built as inexpensive worker-housing by coal companies, and often their construction was of poor quality. Thomas is seen at right, standing in front of the house which appears to be on a foundation made of field stones. One day the Minerds' house began to collapse. Daughter Theresa, said:
    What I was told, by my parents, is that my Dad was at work in the mine when the house we lived in began shifting and caving in on one corner. When my Mom realized what was happening, she got me (an infant) out of the baby crib then tried to open the door to get out but it wouldn't budge. She then went to the window and fortunately men were doing road work nearby so she yelled and pounded on the window to get their attention. They came running and got us out. I don't know how many houses caved in or if they were torn down. I guess coal had been removed under the houses and then Helen, Pa., was gone. Most everyone then moved just over the hill to Keisterville; my Dad worked there until it finished...

  2. Helen, Menallen Twp., Fayette Co., PA
    [A coal company patch town in Menallen Twp., Fayette County, Pennsylvania.]
    [Helen is located north of Keisterville, southwest of Waltersburg, and south of Smock, Fayette Co., PA.]
    [Helen was located over the hill from Keisterville, Fayette Co., PA.]
    See: Helen Mine, Helen, Menallen Twp., Fayette Co., PA        
    Lafayette Mine & Coke Works (Atlas Mine & Coke Works), Helen, Menallen Twp., Fayette Co., PA