Sunday, November 10, 2019

Amsbury/Taylor/Glen Helen/Webster No.7/Pennsylvania No.7 Coke Works

Well folks, it is officially Coke Oven Season once again! This year will most likely have us heading east and north much more, since we pretty much ran out of ovens in our area. 




Today, we headed up to Amsbry in Cambria County. As you can tell from the title of this post, these ovens changed hands quite a few times throughout their existence.  Amsbury Mine and Coke Works were developed by William W Amsbury around 1888. Amsbury came to Cambria County from Susquehanna County to develop coal lands in the area. He ended up acquiring around 25,000 acres in Galitzin, Allegheny, Munster, and Clearfield Township's. He built the company patch town of Amsbry to house the workers for his first mine located there. The mine and coke works were named Amsbury, but the town was named Amsbry. I'm unsure of why the spelling was different for each. The mine was one of the largest in the county, with several entrances, as well as multiple tipples which allowed the operators to ship coal on either the Pennsylvania or New York Central Railroads. 



The ovens went cold in 1905 after producing only 1,571 tons of coke for that year, with only ten employees assigned to coke making. That year the mine produced 183,249 tons of coal with 149 miners working 141 days.  The entire operation employed a total of 184 people.



Lets backtrack.....   Amsbury Mine and Coke Works is listed as being under construction in 1888, by the Cambria Coal and Coke Company. The reports for 1889 and 1890 show a total of twelve ovens.  1891 and 1892 shows Amsbury being operated by the Cresson and Clearfield Coal and Coke Company, with 20 ovens. Nothing shows up in the 1893 and 1894 reports. It reappears in the 1895 report as Taylor Brothers, but has no stats. 1896 brings back the 20 ovens still being operated by Taylor Brothers. 1897-1899 shows 20 ovens but it has been renamed Glen Helen Mine and Coke Works. 

This article from the October 25, 1888 Tyrone Herald describes the new mine and coke works at Amsbry.

The 1895 mining report describes how the Taylor Brothers leased the plant.

1900-1901 shows the mine has been renamed Webster No. 7 by the Webster Coal and Coke Company with 20 ovens. This is important because throughout the rest of its existence, this will always be the Number 7 Mine.

1902 would show Webster Coal and Coke making many improvements to the mine. They constructed an additional 30 ovens, bringing the total to 50.

1902 report from the Department of Mines.


1903 brought the oven total to 55. This would be where it stays for the rest of its existence. This year would also see the opening of Webster No. 16, which was connected with No. 7. These two mines would remain synonymous from here on out.  Another important change this year is the operation by Pennsylvania Coal and Coke Company.






1903 mining report. The D Seam is the Upper Freeport coal seam.





1904 comes in with the mine being renamed Pennsylvania No.7 with 55 ovens. 1905, we already went over.  After this, the ovens would be reported occasionally, but there would be no more coke production.  1906 and 1907 lists the operators as the Pennsylvania Beech Creek and Eastern Coal Company with 55 ovens but no coke production. 1908 brings back the Pennsylvania Coal and Coke Company. 1909 and 1910 lists No. 7 and No. 16 together with no ovens. 1911 lists 55 ovens again, still operated by Pennsylvania Coal and Coke with no coke production. The ovens are listed as idle. 1912 shows no changes. 1913 shows No. 7 separately from No. 16 and lists the latter as idle. 1914 reports 53 ovens with no coke production and 158,301 tons of coal. 1915 and 1916 has No. 16 still idle with no ovens listed. 1917, no ovens listed, No. 16 not mentioned, 171,657 tons of coal. 1918 shows No. 16 still unlisted, but shows No. 7 being connected to Pennsylvania No. 10 for drainage and air purposes. 1919 lists no ovens and 122,305 tons of coal.

In 1920, it starts getting weird. No. 7 is not listed at all. 1921-1924 does not list No. 7 but lists No. 10, which was connected in 1918. 1923 lists coal production at 192,414 tons. In 1925 Amsbury comes back as Amsbry No. 7 with 21,914 tons of coal. 1926-1928 shows it as Amsbry No. 7 but the production remains low. After this, the mine probably lasted into the 1930's but I have to access to mining reports after 1928. A 1939 aerial shows very little activity and the ovens are completely collapsed. 

1939 aerial.

  So what is left there today, you're certainly asking? Well I'm going to show you. The ovens are all severely deteriorated, but we're lucky to have any. There are some ruins from some of the mine buildings, as well as large slab remaining from a much larger structure. I believe there are the ruins of a fan house, but I can't be certain because none of the structures are labeled on the mine maps. 

Walking back to the Amsbury Mine site.

Ruins of one of the mine buildings.

The few remaining ovens.

This would have been the coke yard. There are buried ovens to the left.

Some of the intact ovens.

This is the structure that I believe may have been a fan house. The reason I think that is due to the large pit behind it. There is a similar pit at Export Mine No. 2, where we know there was an air shaft.

Large pit behind the structure.

Another remaining oven.

Coke yard to the left, railroad siding to the right.

Railroad siding heading towards the tracks.

Some stone remaining from the pier wall.

Buried coke ovens towards the center.

Some of the buried ovens.

This would most likely be the end of the oven bank.

A strange ditch behind the coke ovens.

Stone remaining from the front of a coke oven.

Foundation from a mine building.

More building ruins.

Looking out towards Amsbry Road.

Huge slab from one of the mine buildings.

Trestle pier.

Stone heading towards the Amsbry No. 7 pit mouth.

The Amsbury No. 7 pit mouth was to the right of this stream.

Old piers in Clearfield Creek. Either railroad or mine haulage.

Not sure what happened to this tree. Lightning?

Church in he Amsbry patch.

A couple of the old patch houses.

Most likely a school. Also in the Amsbry patch.



Bonus Material:






After I finished at Amsbry, I drove over to Loretto to look at the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel and the tomb of Prince Gallitzin.