Beers Historical Record
Volume I
Chapter 6


The first geological survey of Pennsylvania was made in 1836 by Professor Henry D. Rogers, formerly State Geologist of New Jersey, under the act of that year's Legislature, when the sum of $6,400 was appropriated for the purpose. This small sum was totally inadequate to cover the cost of a complete survey, so a preliminary study of the strata of the State was made. In 1837 the appropriation permitted the employment of eight assistants, and in 1841, the funds being exhausted, the survey was suspended. It was not till 1851 that the results of this survey were printed. After that date surveys were continued until 1858, when the final results were published.

In 1873 the production of coal, oil and gas had grown to such enormous proportions in the State as to arouse an interest in the study of its geological structure, and in 1874 the second State survey was authorized by the Legislature, Prof. J. P. Lesley, being appointed State Geologist. With ample appropriations, a competent corps of engineers and a well equipped laboratory, the work proceeded to successful completion in 1895.

When the first survey was made most of the country was still an unbroken wilderness and the field men were to be congratulated on the good results they achieved, in the face of the opposition of nature and man and with a meagre appropriation.

The results of the second survey were published as fast as they could be prepared, and were of immense value to well drillers and coal miners all over the State. Over 150 pamphlets and maps were printed by the State for free distribution to those interested and a permanent Bureau of Mines was established.

In 1899 a topographic and geologic survey was begun of the State in conjunction with the United States Geological Survey, and an accurate set of topographical maps made of the section of the State in which Armstrong county is located. This work is still being carried on to completion in the other portions of the State. One of the prominent members of the State commission appointed to supervise the work and consult with the directors was Hon. George W. McNees of Kittanning, whose interest in the development of this county has never flagged and who is probably one of the best informed men in this part of the State in the geological formation and history of the county.


The State of Pennsylvania is entirely within the Appalachian Province. The portion of this province in which Armstrong county lies is called the Allegheny Plateau, from the river of that name. As will be found on reference to the dictionary, a plateau is a level space of land surface. To the reader it may seem strange to call the greatly broken and diversified surface of this county a plateau. Yet it is in reality a level surface that has been cut up by rivers and ice formations in what geologists call modern times--that is, not earlier than the days of the mammoth and other strange creatures of the ages before man was fully developed.

Most of the coal and other strata of this county were deposited by successive epochs of submergence and elevation of the entire surface, or periods of vegetable growth and depression beneath the waters of the sea and the floods from the melting glaciers. These produced layers of coal deposits alternating with sand and shells of marine and fresh water animals. The different lengths of the submergence and elevation are evidenced in the varying thickness of the deposits. During the glacial times great sheets of ice advanced from the polar cap as far south as Pittsburgh, leaving immense deposits of gravel at their terminal moraines or lower ends. These deposits were left upon the upper strata and form in many cases the top soil covering near the rivers. The most important effect of these gravel deposits was to totally change the course of the streams of this part of the State. The rivers, choked with ice and gravel, became reversed in flow and cut new channels for themselves, through the strata, southward. The Ohio was formerly a tributary of the Grand river and flowed into Lake Erie near Ashtabula. The Allegheny, Youghiogheny and The Monongahela were all tributaries of the Grand and sent their waters northward. Not one of the rivers of the State was connected with the Gulf of Mexico in any way before the glacial age, but all were tributaries of the great lakes and the St. Lawrence. This is easy to be seen by a view of the present map of the State, where the general flow of most of the rivers is northward.

A general elevation of the surface of this county caused the rivers to be lifted above their beds for at least a hundred feet, and their flow was necessarily more violent and destructive. To give an illustration of the effect of water on the strata, the reader can glance at the surface of a cultivated field after a severe rain. It will be seen that the soil is cut up in a most erratic way by numerous gullies, most of them converging toward a common center where the level is lowest. No apparent system is followed by these watercourses, the slightest twig often causing a complete reversal of the course of a rill. Such an effect, on an enormously magnified scale, was the result of the elevation of our earth in ancient days. Added to this there was a tremendous pressure exerted against the eastern side of the plateau, causing the strata to rise in great folds or waves, and in some instances to break and ride over one another. These folds are called "anticlines" and the corresponding depressions of the strata, "synclines." The folds resemble the wrinkles of a sheet of paper pushed up from one end, and their general direction is from northeast to southwest.

Now imagine this rippled surface filled level with soil and gravel and covered with water, and you will get an idea of the appearance of the topography of Armstrong county before the rivers commenced to erode and cut up its surface. Like the washing of a heavy rain the rivers followed no definite course in their meanderings, but sought the easiest way to a lower level. Thus the surface hills and valleys do not run in a parallel line with the anticlines and synclines, but follow their own erratic paths to the large rivers, the latter only being water-filled valleys.

Through this wonderful course of nature in glacial days and thereafter we are enabled to find the useful metals and coals near the surface of the earth, and are not compelled to seek them at great depths with severe toil and expense. As an example, it is found that the Pittsburgh coal in the southwestern part of the State is only 100 feet above sea level, at Pittsburgh it is 1,000 feet above and in Clarion county it rises to 2,000 feet. In Armstrong county the Brookville coal is only seen on the tops of the highest hills, in Clarion county it is exposed along the streams, and in Greene county it is buried beneath the surface for 1,500 feet.

In each of the sketches of the different townships are to be found short descriptions of the local geological formations. In the sketches of the oil, clay and limestone industries will be found matter of much geological interest to the reader.


Armstrong county is not supplied with many caves of natural formation, as the deposits of limestone are of too little depth. Most of the caves of the United States are in sections where the softer limestones predominate and are of great thickness. Water is usually the cause of the caves in this class of rock, and all of the limestone caverns show more or less evidence of this origin in the stalactites that depend from the roof and the stalagmites which arise from the floor. Long continued erosion of the stone and subsequent deposition form strange and fantastic icicle-like pillars and projections, to which the observer is prone to give names appropriate to their character and appearance.

The most interesting of these caves in this county is that discovered about 1868 on the farm of Adam Smith, in Red Bank township, near Pine run. It is not of limestone formation, but is a probable fracture of the sandstone of that locality. It is composed of a series of small apartments leading into each other. The first is 8 feet high, 4 feet wide and 15 feet long, from which a narrow opening extends into another one; thence into three others of about the same size. From these extend three others, one to the right and the other to the left. The walls are as smooth as if hewn by man, although there is no evidence to support that theory.

A short distance west of Kellersburg, in Madison township, in 1880, a cave in the limestone formation was discovered by parties digging for ore. It was a capacious cavern, of several rooms, from which many fine specimens of stalactites and stalagmites were obtained.

Another small cave existed for many years near Kittanning, on Cowanshannock creek, but was only explored in 1913. It was found to consist of a room about twenty feet high, with a sandy floor, bearing evidences of erosion from water. Names of persons carved upon the walls were found, the dates running back to 1875. It is probably another of the sandstone fractures of this region.


The most widespread use of limestone in the past in this county has been for fertilization of the soils. For generations the farmers have burned it for land dressing, a practice which is more prevalent in Pennsylvania than any other State in the Union. Even in this day many small mounds of limestone can be seen burning in the pastures in the summer and fall. As a top dressing it is of much benefit to sour land.

As shown in the history of the iron industry of this county the furnaces, past and present were dependent on limestone for fluxing purposes. Many a farmhouse of the early days was constructed from this useful mineral and some of our modern structures are still made of it.

One of the first uses of limestone in this county was for the making of lime. Crude furnaces were built by the pioneers at convenient hillsides, and the product entered into the construction of many of their homes and the early public buildings. Probably the largest limekiln in the county was that operated by the Reynolds in Rayburn township, near Kittanning. Here the stone was quarried by "stripping." Most of the output was shipped to Pittsburgh. The kilns were operated from 1866 to 1889.

Limestone is also used for paving blocks and building stone, one of the earliest quarries being that of A. J. Dull in Manor township in 1871. Quarries are now operated in Kiskiminetas, West Franklin and Brady's Bend townships. The largest quarry is that of the Pittsburgh Limestone Company, in the edge of this and Butler county, where an immense deposit of Vanport limestone is worked, the company operating eight miles of railroads under the cliffs , end employing several hundred men. Here, as well as in other quarries of the company, the product is being made into Portland cement.

The use of the limestones of this county for the making of cement is rapidly increasing as the methods of manufacture are improved. For this cement a limestone of high grade is required. The magnesium carbonate must be less than 5%, the amount of calcium carbonate should be at least 75%, and the ratio of silica to alumina and iron 5 to 2. However, this ration can be obtained by admixture of several grades of stone. Suitable grades are abundant in this county, the Vanport limestone being the most valuable. The Upper Freeport is the next in value.

At the time of the construction of the Pennsylvania canal the limestones of this county were used for the making of cement for the locks and aqueducts. The Vanport limestone ranges from 6 to 20 feet in this county, and the Upper Freeport from 6 feet to 28 feet in the quarry of A. J. Dull & Co. at Fort Run, below Kittanning.

According to the last geological survey the value of limestone quarried in Pennsylvania in 1906 was nearly $5,000,000. Of this amount stone to the value of $3,168,186 was quarried for fluxing purposes. For railroad ballast, $602,128; for concrete, $486,682; for road making, $251,200. These figures are probably 25% less than the output of 1913.


The sandstones of this county are not suitable for building purposes, although many of our older schoolhouses, churches and dwellings were wholly or partially made of this stone. It is too friable for the purpose, and does not stand the ravages of time as well as the limestones. On the other hand, it is suitable for rough masonry, such as cellars, foundations and bridge abutments. Almost all of the bridges of the county are erected on piers of this stone.

The Kittanning sandstone has been quarried for years along the Allegheny and Kiskiminetas rivers. It is twenty feet thick near Mosgrove. The Freeport sandstone is sometimes used, but is generally too irregular in deposits. Along the Allegheny it sometimes reaches a thickness of seventy feet. The Conemaugh sandstones are quarried for bridge piers and at Kittanning and Ford City are reduced to sand for the grinding of plate glass.

The value of the sandstones of the State in 1906 was almost $3,000.000. Of this, rough building blocks represented $510,299; dressed building, $835,841; road making, $34,000; railroad ballast, $108,391; concrete, $103,120; paving, flagging, curbing and glass making, $1,133,223.


Although Pennsylvania far outstrips all the other States in the production of pig iron, her own production of iron ore is nil. In the early days of Armstrong county this was not the rule, for at that time the rich Lake Superior ores were not known of and pioneer iron-workers resorted to the veins of "buhrstone" ore which in many parts of the county outcropped upon the sides of the streams.

The first furnace for the reduction of this ore was erected about half a mile up Roaring run, near the Big Falls on the Kiskiminetas river, two miles above Apollo. It was established by James W. Biddle in 1825, and went into blast on Christmas day. It was thirty feet high, eight feet across the top and was a cold blast stream furnace. The fuel was charcoal, made from the dense forests which surrounded the site, and the ore and limestone came direct from the hill. It was not a pecuniary success, owing to the crude methods used and the bad roads to the river landing. It was finally sold by the sheriff. The capacity was twenty tons per week. It ran in different hands until 1855, when it went out of blast. At the present time it resembles an ancient prehistoric ruin and its location is almost unknown to residents of other parts of the county. Trees and underbrush cover the sides and the fireclay lining is only standing on one side. Nature has almost reclaimed the site and man has deserted this once busy little valley.

Following Rock Furnace many others of similar construction were erected in various places where the ore or transportation facilities were convenient. Omitting descriptions, the following is the most available list:

Bear Creek, near Parker City, 1826; Allegheny, near Kittanning, 1827; Buffalo Furnace, on Buffalo creek, 1839; Great Western Furnaces, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, in 1840-43; Ore Hill, Cowanshannock and Mahoning Furnaces in 1845; Brady's Bend No. 4, Buffalo No. 2, America, Phoenix and Pine Creek Furnaces in 1846; Olney Furnace at Eddyville, in 1847; Stewardson Furnace, on Mahoning creek, in 1851; Monticello Furnace, on Cowanshannock creek, in 1859.

The character of the iron produced was very good, but the methods were too costly and the supply of wood soon become exhausted. When the Lake Superior ores came into competition, coke was used as a fuel and the modern hot blast method adopted so the old "teakettle" furnaces one by one fell into idleness.

The first iron ore was mined in this State in 1805, but it was not till ten years later that the industry grew to large proportions. For the benefit of our readers we will give a detailed description of these old iron furnaces and the method of their operation. The first furnaces resembled Egyptian temples in shape, being simply tapering square towers of stone, with an inner chamber of bottle-shape, lined with fireclay. The process at first was simply to roast the ore until the iron was separated from it. Cold air was forced into the mass of iron and limestone, by a simple steam-driven fan.

When the hot blast was introduced, coke took the place of charcoal, but it was too late to save the greatly depleted forests that were the source of the charcoal. One of the best of the old furnaces was that at Red Bank, and we will give the details of its operation after coke came into use. Its product was from 90 to 105 tones a week of gray mill metal, wasting less than 6 per cent in puddling, with coke made from the Upper Freeport coalbed coal and buhrstone ore and limestone, all mined in the hillsides back of the furnace. The stack was 39 feet and 8 inches high, and 11 feet across the boshes, with a square-cut stone base and a round looped cylinder, of 3 feet brick wall, with 18 inches lining and 6 inches packing between. The fuel used in 1865 was one half coke and one half coal, in alternate charges, thus: First charge, raw coal, 10 bushels; ore, 633 lbs.; limestone, 253 lbs.; three of these making a charge. Second charge: three times 10 bushels coke and 633 lbs. ore, and 253 lbs. limestone. The upright furnace engine worked 30 lbs. steam, and the gauge stood between 3 3/4 and 4 lbs. pressure on the cylinder; a very beautiful engine, with a 28-inch steam cylinder, mounted endwise on a 5 1/2 feet blowing cylinder, the stroke common to both being 4 1/2 feet. The gases were taken off on each side of the tunnel-head some feet down, and introduced beneath the hot-blast house and boilers, standing on a terrace about 6 feet above the casting floor, but under the same roof. The length of the air cylinder was 20 feet, and its diameter 10 feet. The three boilers were 3 by 36 feet, with an extra flue boiler in case of accident. The coke was shot upon high screens, the raw coal deposited on the stockyard floor, part of which was used for a calcining yard. This furnace was in almost constant operation from its completion until it went out of blast, and afforded employment in all its departments to a large number of employes, at times to about two hundred. Its product aggregated 60,000 tons of pig iron, which found a market in Pittsburgh and Kittanning. Between 1866 and 1874, 20,000 tons of Lake Superior ore were mixed with the native ores in this region, producing a superior quality of neutral iron, well adapted to the manufacture of nails, hoop-iron and tool-steel.

In the report of the second geological survey of Pennsylvania are the following data regarding the source of the ore supply for this furnace: "The ore-bed is a layer of brown hematite mixed with blue carbonate, out of which the hematite seems to have been formed by decomposition. The less blue carbonate, the more brown hematite, and the softer and better the ore, is the accepted rule. The ore-bed is very irregular, sometimes running down to six inches, and sometimes up to five feet. It will probably average two feet along its whole outcrop. It is mined along the hillsides at about the same level on the south side of Red Bank and down the river. It covers the ferriferous or great fossilferous limestone, a bed fifteen feet thick, filling depressions of all sizes in its upper surface, and penetrating its top layer, so as to render it a superior flux. Above the ore bed is a mass of shales many feet thick, more or less siliceous and more or less charged with balls of blue carbonate of iron. This ore-bed is remarkable for its extent of area, covering Armstrong, Venango, Clarion, Jefferson, and Butler counties, and it has been, in fact, the principal reliance of the fifty furnaces in northwestern Pennsylvania, and the forty-odd furnaces of southern Ohio and eastern Kentucky. Its outcrop is usually very soft, easily mined by stripping, and afterward by gangways, driven partly in the limestone and partly in the ore."

The following is an analysis of a piece of perforated red ore, obtained from John C. Rhea's farm, in Red Bank township, by F. A. Genth, Jr., of the University of Pennsylvania in 1876:

Ferri oxide, 77.10; ferrous oxide, 0.43; manganous oxide, 1.02; alumina, 2.47; silicic acid, 7.17; phosphoric acid, 0.38; carbonic acid, 0.47; water and organic matter, 11.23==100.27.

The Brady's Bend Iron Works were the first of the combined furnaces and rolling mill plants of the early days, and the description given in the sketch of that township will be of interest in this connection. After the beginning of these works the Kittanning furnace went into blast, and is now the only remnant of the old iron industry extant. Even it has now closed for an indefinite time. All of the mills now in operation in the county are of modern design and their product is equal to any in the United States in quality.

At present the iron industry is represented by the Kittanning Iron and Steel Co., the Leechburg branch of the American Sheet and Tin Plate Co., and the Apollo Sheet Steel Co., all of which are extensively described in the sketches of their respective localities.


About the year 1812 an old lady named Deemer discovered a spring of salt water on the Conemaugh river, two miles above Saltsburg, Indiana county. She tried the water in cooking cornmeal mush and found it of just the right flavor. This discovery was the beginning of the salt industry of that and Armstrong counties. The following year a well was bored with spring poles to a depth of 280 feet, and an abundance of salt water found. Horsepower was at first used, but soon steam took its place, and the industry became an important one. The profits, however, were seldom much above expenses, and the salt industry was short-lived.

The first well in this county was bored in 1814 by a man named Trux, in Kiskiminetas township. The wells were chiefly along the Allegheny and Kiskiminetas rivers. They were from 500 to 650 feet deep, three inches in diameter for the first 200 feet, and two below that depth. In 1830 there were 24 wells in Armstrong county, producing annually 65,500 barrels of salt, which averaged $2.12 per barrel.

For the benefit of the readers who probably never saw a salt well we give a description of the method of producing this most important commodity. The average cost of these wells was $2 a foot for the first 500 feet, and $3 per foot for the succeeding depths. When fresh water veins were encountered copper tubes surrounded by bags of flaxseed were inserted just above the salt water veins. The swelling of the flaxseed cut off the fresh water from the salt water below. Through these copper tubes the brine was pumped into large reservoirs, and thence into pans, where it was boiled down to a thick fluid. Thence it was turned into cooling vats, where the sediment was allowed to settle to the bottom, the brine being drawn off into the graining pans, where the final crystallization took place. To operate the plant required about 200 bushels of coal, and the attendance of three men. In 1840 the cost of boring a well was $3,500, and the annual yield from 1,000 to 5,000 barrels.

The price of salt at first justified the boring of wells and operating of these plants, but after the Civil war the introduction of the low priced rock salt of the South caused the suspension of these wells. The last well in operation in the county was that of William Gamble & Son, in 1882, and was located on the Kiskiminetas river, near the mouth of the Roaring run.

But the old salt wells have not lost their usefulness yet. Modern ingenuity and enterprise has found a way of utilizing the water in a way for many years universal throughout Germany. Dr. H. M. Welsh, of Leechburg, has purchased a portion of the old Parks farm and is establishing an up-to-date sanitarium for the cure of nervous diseases. He proposes to turn the salt water into bath tubs and administer its healing properties to patients in the manner customary at the "spas" in foreign health resorts. So the old salt wells will have a new lease of life as will the patients.


Pennsylvania ranks second in the United States in the production of clay products. In 1907 these products reached the value of $20,291,621, and of this amount the largest single item was for fire brick, $6,907,904. Common brick came next, with a value of $6,353,799. Over $1,000,000 of vitrified and face brick were produced.

The deposits of clay from which these products are made occur in five different classes: residual clays, due to the decay of shales, shaly sandstones or argillaceous limestones; alluvial clays deposited along the present stream valleys; clays deposited in the high level abandoned river channels and on river benches; coal measure plastic clay, usually underlying coal beds; coal measure flint, non-plastic clays.

Residual clays are the remains of broken down rocks of various kinds which have been carried by water to places in the channels of present or prehistoric rivers and there deposited in beds. Often these beds are covered by layers of rock.

Alluvial clays are deposited in the beds of streams by floods and ice dams of the glacial ages. Some of these deposits are in the beds of the present rivers and others are found in the ancient beds of the rivers of the past, far above the present water levels.

Practically every coal bed in this State is underlaid by a bed of clay, having a thickness of from one to fifteen feet. These clays are known as plastic and non-plastic, from the difference in their structure.

The plastic are divided into several classes, called by the names of the coal strata under which they lie. They are easily worked and form the basis of the greater part of the bricks and tiles made in this county. The Lower Kittanning clay is the most extensive and heaviest of these deposits.

Flint clays are the main source of the high grade furnace linings. In a large measure the great furnaces of this country are dependent on the flint clays for their continuance. Without these clays it would be impossible to carry on the iron industry, as there is no other substance which can be obtained so cheaply as a lining for the furnaces, where the heat rises to thousands of degrees of temperature.

This demand has given a high value to our flint clay deposits, for all flint clays are not capable of withstanding these high temperatures. Unless the plastic clays are favorably situated they are not profitable to work, but the flint clays are so valuable that they are mined in any location, even when far from transportation facilities. In that case the railroads are quick to construct lines to tap these deposits, if large enough.


Chemically, flint clay is almost identical with koalin, or potters' clay. It breaks into peculiar flat-sided fragments, and is not soft like other clays. In fact, most persons would call it rock. In the mines it is blasted out like coal, hoisted to the surface, ground in mills to dust and then mixed with other clays to cause it to stick together, after which water is added and it is moulded in machines to the shape desired.


The flint clays are often found in beds surrounded by the plastic clays, so that both can be mined at the same time. The largest deposits of flint clay in Armstrong county are at Johnetta and St. Charles.

These clays are made into many varieties of products in this county. Paving brick and building brick are made at Cowansville, St. Charles, Cowanshannock, Kittanning, Brady's Bend, Templeton and Johnetta. Sewer pipe is produced at St. Charles, Kittanning and Johnetta. The use of drain tile in this State is small, so the demand for it does not justify its manufacture at the present time. Points in the West where the demand is local and the clays are suitable have established kilns, thus obviating expensive and hazardous transportation.

The newly opened line of the Shawmut railroad through the northern part of the county has developed large deposits of clay and shale and they are rapidly being mined and shipped to the nearest kilns. As soon as possible other brick works will be established near the deposits and this section of the county, so long relapsed into disuse, will come once more to the front as a manufacturing community.

The strata of clay along the Shawmut road are so peculiarly formed that practically everything manufactured of burned clay and shale can be produced. Laboratory tests and experiments at various universities have secured excellent red, buff, gray and white face brick, fire and furnace brick, paving brick, fireproofing, drain tile and sewer pipe, crockeryware and pottery. These products are now being manufactured from the same strata of clay and shale nearer to transportation. It is only the lack of railroad facilities that has kept this district "closed" heretofore.


The first brickmaker of importance in the county was Paul Morrow of Kittanning, who began business in 1806 on lot No. 3, of the Armstrong plat, just outside of the borough limits. In 1809-10 he furnished the commissioners with 189,000 brick for the first courthouse. This plant was later operated by Robert Stewart, a colored man, in the period from 1813 to 1837. The next owner was John Hunt, in 1830, and he was followed by James Daugherty, and William Sirwell, Sr. McCauley Brothers also operated a brick works on Reynolds avenue, in the rear of the present Pennsylvania depot, in 1865-69.

Byron Killikelly, son of the famous Rev. B. B. Killikelly, was the first to introduce machinery into the manufacture of brick in the county. Daugherty afterwards bought his plant and machines. Daugherty & Sirwell had the honor of making the first pressed brick in the county, in 1851. Their works were located in the rear of the site of the present Gault Granary. John F. Nulton was also one of the old time brickmakers. H. D. and G. B. Daugherty were the founders of the Avenue Brick Works, on Grant avenue and Jacob streets, in 1866. In 1880 the plant was operated by G. B. Daugherty, and consisted of two kilns and a dry house, with a capacity of 4,500,000 bricks per annum. The output is about double that now, and the plant is operated by Daugherty Brothers. Red building brick is the principal product. W. B. Daugherty, one of the present proprietors, had the honor of laying the brick for the first building at Ford City. He and his brother also supplied the brick and built the first glass works for J. B. Ford & Co., the plate glass pioneers in this county. The Daughertys have recently discovered on their property on Grant avenue a fine pocket of flint clay in the middle of a deposit of ordinary fire clay. They are preparing to ship it to other points, as it is too refractory to be adapted to the manufacture of common red building brick.

The Phoenix Firebrick Works, established at Manorville in 1880 by Isaac Reese, was devoted entirely to the manufacture of Reese's Patent Silica Fire Brick, for furnace linings. After the development of the shale firebrick in other parts of the county the plant was purchased by a large Pittsburgh firm, the Harbison-Walker Co., and dismantled.

The Stewart Fire Brick Works were established in Mahoning township in 1872, the product being exclusively for furnace linings. Their present successors, the Climax Fire Brick Co., have enlarged their facilities and now manufacture several kinds of fire and paving brick and tiling.

James McNees was the owner of a pottery in 1874, in South Bend township, where he at first made crocks. In 1876 the firm became McNees & Son, and they branched out into the manufacture of stone pumps and pipes, a rather original idea in the pottery line. Their success was only temporary, as the wooden pump could be manufactured at a much lower price and was easier marketed. Geo. W. McNees is now interested in the Kittanning Clay Manufacturing Co.

The different plants for the manufacture of clay products are well described in the sketches of the townships and boroughs where they are located. The total output is of a miscellaneous character and is difficult to compute, the production fluctuating according to the demand and season.

Details of the manufacture of brick according to modern methods will be found in the sketch of Johnetta borough. The plant at that place has a capacity of 100,000 per day; the Kittanning Brick and Fire Clay Co. have a capacity of 100,000; the Kittanning Clay Manufacturing Co., 50,000; the works of Upper Kittanning Brick Co., at Kaylor, 100,000; the plant at Cowanshannock, 50,000; the Cowansville works, 40,000; the Freeport plant, 40,000, the Climax works at St. Charles, 50,000, and Daugherty Bros. works at Kittanning, 10,000.

Computing the total bricks made in one day in the county at about 500,000, it is estimated that the length of the clay bars from which these bricks are cut, if placed end to end, would cover a distance of nearly twenty miles, and in one year would stretch over a length of 5,000 miles. These measurements are taken from the narrowest part of the brick--about two and one-half inches.

Mr. Nathan L. Strong, solicitor for the Shawmut railroad, has collected the most complete exhibit of the products of Armstrong county in existence, and will add to it from time to time. The collection now includes samples of raw clay of all qualities found in Armstrong county and vicinity, samples of rough and finished tile; rough and finished brick of all grades, sizes, and colors; wall tile, drain tile, pottery products, from rough crocks to finished enamel ware; samples of coal, shale, and various ores. The collection is being added to from time to time,, and while it is now undoubtedly the best in the county, it will probably become the best exhibit of western Pennsylvania mineral and earth products in existence.


Coal is one of the most valuable and important mineral products; in fact, the corner-stone of modern civilization. Without it, nearly all the modern applications of power would be impossible. Not only would our railroads, our mills and factories be unable to operate, but the effect of eliminating coal would be to wipe out all our recent industrial progress; hand processes would replace mechanical ones, and all manufacturing on a large scale would cease.

We travel in comfort in luxuriously equipped trains and steamships, and enjoy the fine fabrics and the tropical fruits brought to our doors from the far corners of the earth, and forget that we owe the possibiliy of these comforts and luxuries to coal. We little realize the immense value of this mineral to us and utterly fail to appreciate the colossal industry which produces it.

Source: Chapter 6, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 19114.
Transcribed June 1998 by Chrissy Kayak for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by Chrissy Kayak for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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