Saturday, January 2, 2016

Champion Coke Works - near Brownsville, PA

I have been searching for these coke ovens for a couple years. Today, while out exploring with a friend, he showed me some ovens he had seen but hadn't gotten to yet. We both thought they were the Century Coke Works until I got home and started looking through mine maps of the area. What popped up blew me away!



The Century Coke Works were on the other side of Dunlap Creek from where we were.



A couple years ago I got ahold of a depression era N.E.A. photo titled "Jobless Miners Live In Coke Ovens". The caption on the back of the photo describes the location as Champion near Brownsville. I couldn't find anything about the location anywhere. 


Here's the photo and the caption:



The Champion Coke Works were constructed by the Champion Connellsville Coke Company around 1907. The company was incorporated on January 1, 1907 and was started by Martin F, Pickard and his associates John E. Hess, Charles S. Hemphill and John H. Hillman Jr. Pickard was a long time businessman in the coke making industry. He was born November 30, 1865 in Armstrong County and after completing school moved to the coke region. He began his career with E.M. Ferguson & Co. before moving on to the McClure Coke Co. After the H.C. Frick Coke Co. absorbed McClure, Pickard worked as superintendent for Frick until 1902. After this he became general manager of the Federal Coal & Coke Co. in West Virginia. After spending two years in the West Virginia coal fields he returned to the coke region as superintendent of the Central Connellsville Coke Co. In 1907 he began his own operations starting the Perry Coke Co., Genuine Connellsville Coke Co., and the Champion Connellsville Coke Co. Pickard died on May 2, 1935 in Connellsville. Prior to his death he disposed of his holdings in the Champion Connellsville Coke Co. and it was mentioned that the company was still in existence. The Champion Coke Works obviously were not active at this time since jobless miners were living in the ovens. Whether or not the ovens were fired up again after the Great Depression I'm not sure. Looking at aerial photos of the time period leads me say they did not. 


To get to the Champion Coke Works we had to cross over this old Monongahela Railroad stone arch bridge.

You can see more of these bridges in a post from a previous visit here.



Looking over at the ovens from the bridge.

The Ovens.

There were originally 40 ovens at Champion. A lot of those ovens are missing and they're all in pretty bad shape.

Looking out at the bridge.

A little bit of a stone wall remaining.

These were on the hillside above the ovens. If you look at the mine map you'll see that area labeled as the tipple.

These stone walls are probably remains of the tipple.

Another view from the bridge.

1 comment:

  1. Do you have GPS coordinates for this? I don't know the area. Many years ago I took a lot of pictures of Bee Hive Ovens that are/was in Lower Belle Vernon, along the Monongahela River.