Sunday, April 5, 2015

Belle Vernon Coke Works

Today was a nice, sunny Spring day. It was a perfect day to walk the tracks along the Monongahela River to check out the Belle Vernon coke ovens. 


The Belle Vernon Coke Works date back to 1912 and were constructed by the Belle Vernon Coke Company. The Belle Vernon Coke Company was started by Holmes Davis and his associates from Mckeesport. Initially the plant was to include 32 ovens but by 1920 it had 42. The coal was taken from the old Cleveland Mine which the Belle Vernon Coke Company purchased from the J.H. Somers Fuel Company. By March of 1921 the mine was completely worked out and abandoned. I have been unable to find anybody else operating the coke plant after that date.


The coke ovens were added to National Register of Historic Places on June 30, 1992. Also in the early 1990's some of these ovens were restored. In 1992, an entreprenuer had purchased the building above the coke ovens that was originally the Suchko (Belle Vernon Oil) property. His intention was to open a restaurant called the Coke Oven, restore the coke ovens and hopefully run a successful business. However, township and property disputes never permitted the restaurant to become a reality. In October 1995 the Belle Vernon Volunteer Fire Department held a haunted coke oven tour and hayride which featured the ovens decorated for Halloween.


I have seen these ovens from the park on the other side of the river but this is the first time I ever walked down there. Most of them are in very nice condition. It's a shame that the plans for the restaurant and recreation area never worked out. It would have been a very nice attraction.


The restaurant that never was.

The upper end of the ovens.

Most of them are in great condition.

These ovens sit right below Route 908. You would never know they were here just driving on the road.

A look across the Monongahela.

I'm wondering if some of these weren't restored to demonstrate what most of them look like today.

They are very well taken care of still. This pipe is directing the water runoff from the road.

Great ovens.

Such an incredible mix of brick.


I love the contrast of brick and stone.

So much restoration work was done with these ovens.

The end of the bank.

A look at the ovens from the tracks.

A look down the tracks toward Belle Vernon.

Some docked tug boats across the river.

It was such a nice day. I sat on the bank of the river and watched tugs moving barges.

Some of the barge crew.

The Myra H.

Looking down at the I-70 and the railroad bridges.

A coal train traveling over the bridge.

This was interesting laying along the tracks. I think it's a control deck from a tug.

1 comment:

  1. What a GREAT treasure trove of history there! Something that should have been utilized and made to happen long ago! What an attraction it would be for both Belle Vernon and Fayette City (Cookstown)! (Y)