Sunday, January 31, 2016

United No. 1 Coke Works - United, PA

These are some old ones. United No. 1 dates back to 1881 and was constructed by the United Coal and Coke Company of Greensburg. There were 300 ovens from the beginning and this remained the number throughout the 1800's. Toward the end of 1885 or the beginning of 1886 the H.C. Frick Coke Company had taken control of the coke works. By 1901 there were 350 ovens. It would remain at 350 for the rest of its existence. Frick pulled the plug on the operation at the end of 1930.


At one point there were two separate banks (one with 41, now gone, and another with 49 that remains) and two blocks of 109 and 101 ovens. This would have been the initial layout of 300 ovens. The blocks sat where there is now an empty field below the ovens of the existing bank. The 41 oven bank sat closer to United Road where the tipple and shaft were also located. The 50 additional ovens were built at the northeast end of the tract on the other side of the 49 oven bank. This long bank is what remains today.



 1939 aerial showing the layout of United No. 1

 The blocks and the bank of 41 ovens have been gone since at least 1967. 

Portion of the mine map showing the two blocks and the shaft.

Portion of the mine map showing the remaining 99 ovens.

Today the ovens that remain are in really bad condition. It is possible that 99 of the bank ovens remain but they are so severely deteriorated that it would be next to impossible to count them. The remaining ovens sit unusually high on the side of the hill. The areas that have been reclaimed either changed the landscape or this section may have been stripped. Some of this area is posted against trespassing and lists US Steel as the land owner. The only reason I can think of that US Steel would still be holding onto the land is there must be considerable coal reserves remaining. If that's the case then it must not have been stripped and the unusually high ovens might be the result of partial reclamation. 

Anyway, here's what's left today.

This is the condition of most of the remaining ovens.

There are small sections of wall remaining here and there.

This unusual brick thing really stood out.

I'm not sure what it is.

There was no shortage of fallen trees all over the remaining ovens.

This is what I mean by them sitting unusually high.

A nice piece of stone wall remaining.

More fallen trees.

An unusual piece of wall remaining.

This could be the split between the 50 and 49 ovens. I remember thinking it looked strange but didn't realize there were two sections until I got home and looked at the mine map.

These are the abutments for the railroad bridge crossing Sewickley Creek. This was called the Bessemer Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It branched off of the Sewickley Branch below United. After it left United it branched into two sections near where Fairgrounds Road is. One section went up to Trauger and terminated there. The other went up to Humpreys, through Pleasant Unity and ended in Marguerite.

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