Saturday, March 7, 2015

Oliphant Coke Works-Oliphant Furnace, PA

The origins of the Oliphant Coke Works dates back to around 1873. However the ovens themselves weren't constructed until 1881-1883. Fideleo Hughes Oliphant was an early Fayette County Iron Maker and is cited as one of the first to make an excellent quality of iron using coke back in 1836 while operating the Fairchance Furnace. Oliphant was well known for numerous improvements in the manufacturing of iron in Fayette County. His iron making days can be traced back to at least 1825 when he conceived the utilization of the furnace gases to aid in the manufacturing of iron. Oliphant was born in 1800 and by the time of his death on November 10, 1879 had owned and operated Franklin Forge, and the Fairchance, Springhill, and Oliphant Furnaces. 


F.H. Oliphant

Around 1873 the Oliphant Furnace Company constructed a steel jacketed blast furnace north of Fairchance. The coke furnace measured 50 feet by 11 feet and was put into blast around 1876. The Fayette Coke and Furnace Company purchased the Oliphant Furnace Company in the early 1800's and began the construction of a new mine as well 130 beehive coke ovens. The Fayette Coke and Furnace Company also constructed the original company houses at Oliphant Furnace. The H.C. Frick Coke Company took over the mine and coke works around 1899 and by 1904 had 252 ovens. In 1920 there were 256 ovens and the mine closed in 1926.

Today there appears to be either one block or one bank of coke oven ruins at Oliphant Furnace. I couldn't get into it as much as I wanted because the area is heavily posted and sits in the middle of a field behind a handful of houses. I had to get in and get out. It was worth it though because I got to learn something about F.H. Oliphant.

This photo was taken from School Road.

 There were three of these piers in the field closer to the road.

Most of the ovens are in really bad shape.

 This is one of the better ones.

Pieces of the wall remain. 

 Looking back across the field at the piers.

 The best of the bunch.

 Looking over at the houses. Somebody would have noticed me.

Taken from the edge of the field.


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