Sunday, March 1, 2015

Leisenring No. 2 - Bute/West Leisenring, PA

Leisenring No. 2 is another one of those places where there are just ovens everywhere! In its heyday there were 502 ovens located here. Today, sections of these ovens are partially to completely buried and others are in pretty good condition. There were five batteries of bank and two batteries of block ovens. The bank ovens were, and still are, quite extensive. The northern section of the block and the bank ovens west of them are partially buried. Only the western side of the block is buried though. The eastern side is completely exposed. It looks like part of the mine dump was reclaimed and it was simply leveled out in this area. There is a coal recovery operation taking place here now. After a small hump to the south all of the ovens are exposed. This is one of the more interesting sites.


Leisenring No. 2 went into operation on January 1, 1882 and was constructed by the Connellsville Coke and Iron Company. The H.C. Frick Coke Company purchased this along with the other two Leisenring mines and coke plants in 1890. The first wave of Leisenring No. 2 lasted until 1927. In 1941 work began on its rehabilitation, as well as almost every other mine and coke plant in the region, to supply the massive increase in steel needed to fuel WWII. The mine was worked after the war but became mined out and closed on December 31, 1955. The last charge was drawn from the ovens on September 30, 1957.


This 1959 aerial photo shows the coke works at Leisenring No. 2. The straight blue lines show the blocks and the shaky red lines show the banks. The bank at the top may have continued wrapping around the hill too.


1950's photo of Leisenring No. 2 showing the bank ovens ringing the mine dump as well as the bank along Bute Road. Photo from "Beehive Coke Years" by John K. Gates


The first of the bank ovens. They were so buried I didn't realize I had walked over them.

Looking over at the mostly buried bank ovens. These are the ovens to the west of the northern portion of the block ovens.

After this, the section of the bank ovens is completely buried. Also this is part of the "leveled" mine dump.

Looking south from the dump. The block ovens are to the left. The banks to the right. Also on the right is Bute Road and the patch of West Leisenring or Bute.

Top of the buried block ovens.

Bottom of one the lamp posts which lined the west side of the ovens.

Top of one of the buried block ovens.

Looking over at the partially buried bank.

One of the partially buried block ovens.

One of the block ovens.

This one is almost completely buried.

As we get further south the ovens get more exposed.

Another lamp post.

The fill is starting to slope down.

Until we get to the bottom.

Between the blocks. Now we head to the east side of the northern block.

This side is fully exposed.

Most of the ovens on this side are in pretty good condition.

Nice ovens.

This is nice!! A perfectly intact floor tile block made in Kittanning!

Of course some are collapsed.

The posts on the east side of the block are from the poles that held the electrical wires that powered the larry cars.

The north end of the northern block. Also buried.

Walking back to the southern block.

An interesting example of what a tree can do to a coke oven.

I can't get a tree to grow in my yard but apparently they have no problem growing in bricks and concrete here.

Some intact hardware.

This is interesting how the arch blocks just fell.

The mortar is very tight inside this oven.

A great example to the many layers of brick in a coke oven.

The southern end of the southern block.

The bank west of the southern block.

Bute Road runs right above the ovens.

Some of them are in pretty good condition.

Some aren't.

The southern block.

The bank.


A closeup of one the bank oven walls.

This bank is very overgrown.

This section of the block ovens is incredible.

Once again, the bank gets buried.

Heading north to the bank ovens up here. The ovens wrap around the large brown hill.

The bank ovens along the side of the hill.

The terrain was very tricky is this area and we weren't able to get over to them.

A lot of them appear to be in really good condition.

The northern section of the bank running along the road.

Looking back at the bank along the hill.

Up here the bank along the road begins disappearing. I'm not sure where they ended.

Walking back to our vehicles.

Marybeth posing next to the coal recovery sign.

After this we headed down the road and turned right on Vances Mill Road. Here we found the remains of the Florence Coke Works.


The Florence Mine and Coke Works were a very small operation. Containing a total of 20 ovens, the Florence Coke Works were constructed around 1900 by the Butes Run Coal and Coke Company of Vances Mill. These ovens switched ownership a couple times and probably only lasted until the 1920's.

Most of the 20 ovens appear to be here.

They're on this farm property but it doesn't look like there's much more to see.

They do have these pipes in the back of the ovens though. Probably some sort of early byproduct oven.

So ends a nice day!

The following is from the Frick Bulletin of Fall 1957 announcing the closure of Leisenring No. 2.


The employees enlarged. Does anybody know any of these guys?



 A US Steel photo I own of the lower section of the coke works. This was certainly taken from the tipple.

 Same shot, different photo. This is enlarged from the Frick Bulletin photo.

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