Today we stayed in Westmoreland County and headed out to Mt. Pleasant Township to check out the ruins of the coke ovens at Trauger.
Hecla No. 2 was developed, along with the company town of Trauger in 1889 by the Hecla Coke Company. The Hecla Coke Company started off as the Thaw and Dorsey Coal and Coke Company around 1882 and they built their first coke works at nearby Hecla. Hecla No. 2, as the Trauger coke plant was known, first fired their ovens in 1890. That same year they produced over 62,000 tons of coke. By 1895 Hecla No. 2 contained 500 ovens.
In 1905 the H.C. Frick Coke Company bought Hecla No. 2 along with the other two Hecla Plants all containing a combined total of 1,072 beehive coke ovens. Frick would operate Hecla No. 2 until 1925 when the mine and coke works were permanently closed. However, today as we were looking around it looks like at least a few may have been operated later by somebody else.
Today there is an almost complete bank of ovens and two partial blocks remaining. A large section of the block ovens had been bulldozed sometime after 1967. The reservoir also remains and is used as a fishing lake.
|An old photo of the Trauger Coke Plant.|
|Most of the ovens at Trauger are in this condition.|
|Some are close to buried but most of the ovens in the bank are still somewhat intact.|
|Some broken pieces of floor tile in this oven.|
|These are the ovens on the mostly intact bank.|
|They stretch from slightly above the lake and go west to near Pollins Road.|
|My old friend Jim Kowalsky checking his camera.|
|Heading west. There was a little it of brush but for the most part it wasn't a tough walk.|
|Slightly misshapen but they're still here!|
|This nasty green water is part of the old spur from the old Sewickley Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad where the coke was loaded onto the trains.|
|A nice fall day.|
|I'm sure the fill covering these ovens washed away long ago.|
|This oven seems to have some of the block from its front laying inside of it.|
|A nice piece of floor tile with a big void underneath.|
|An old milk jug dump.|
|This is what remains of the middle block. The remains of the other block can be seen behind it. Notice the green vegetation in the foreground. That is more of the swamp that used to be the railroad siding.|
|The end of the middle block, the swamp and the other block.|
|Looking over at the middle block.|
|The last block. Part garbage dump, part shooting range.|
|A portion of the retaining wall remains at this tire dump.|
|These are the last ovens of the still intact block. These are the few ovens I believe may have been used later than 1925.|
|This is the first for me! Out of all the ovens I explored this is the first time I have ever found the water nozzle that was used to quench the coke.|
|The water nozzle against the still intact stone wall.|
|This strange mixture of block, brick and stone is what leads me to believe these ovens were used later.|
|The brick is closer to what you would see on a facade for a building.|
|Regardless, it was nice to see some intact ovens out here.|
|Laying in the woods. This looks like it could have been the top for the oven above.|
|Nice intact section of the block.|
|A look at the old reservoir and current fishing lake.|
This is a photo that was sent to me by Hope Stephan from Mechanicsburg, PA. It's a photo of her mother Dorothy Bertram shoveling snow at her house in Trauger. Taken during the winter of 1938 or 1939 you can clearly see how many coke ovens remained at the time before they got all grown over.
Dorothy Bertram (daughter of William and Margaret Bertram), shoveling snow at her home in Trauger in 1938 or 1939. You can't miss the banks of coke ovens visible behind her. Photo courtesy of Dorothy's daughter, Hope Stephan of Mechanicsburg, PA.