Aldrich History Project

Chapter XIII

Geology of Clearfield County

The geology of Clearfield county has been written by numerous gentlemen, notably Professors Leslie, Pratt, Chance, Hoover, and Scott, while local geologists have all had a say, and the consequence has been a difference of opinion as to what should be the name, and what letter or letters should be assigned to the several coal beds.

With all due deference to the opinions of these eminent geologists, yet the necessary hurried examinations made by Messrs. Pratt and Chance, oftentimes through a primeval forest, or over nearly impassable jungles where the measures could not be exposed, and where it would take months to make a thorough examination, the chance for error would seem to be great, and their scientific knowledge could not guard them from making reports that the pick and shovel would disprove in after years; and therefore, no credit is asked for the later facts herewith presented, and it is trusted that where this paper differs from the reports named, the gentlemen will be assured that no blame is attached to their several papers, but that the region being more thoroughly developed, it is very easy to give facts that they could possibly know nothing about.

Before starting on the geology of the county, it is necessary that the reader should be made acquainted with the general principles governing the science, and what is meant by the terms employed to describe the material composing the planet called earth, and how this material was formed. The classification of formations of organic history and geological time is inserted in the following table:



Organic Reigns












Reptiles and Birds.





Upper Carboniferous,


Lower Carboniferous,

Amphibians and Land Animals







Marine Invertebrates.








The portion of this table most nearly concerning Clearfield county is the lower carboniferous measures of the Palćozoic formation. The rocks composing the other divisions of this ćon are far below the surface, and do not crop out within the county, if we except the No. XI Red Shale and the No. X Pocono Sandstone, which are above water level for short distances along the Susquehanna and Moshannon valleys.

The base of what is known as the Lower Productive Coal Measures, is the Pottsville or Seral Conglomerate. This rock is the foundation of all the great coal measures of the Appalachian basin. It belongs to the coal era, and extends from the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, to and beyond the coal fields of Alabama and Missouri. In thickness it reaches 1,000 feet in the anthracite regions, gradually tapering to ten feet at the southwestern extremity. Its composition is a concretionary silicious quartz, in the form of a coarse sand rock, containing large, white, flint-like pebbles. In this region, the outcrop of the conglomerate forms the main crest of the Alleghenies, and is exposed by the deep basins of mountain streams, whose waters wash its surface. The Moshannon heads in this formation about twelve miles above Osceola Mills, and its presence is a never failing indication of coal.

Taking the Seral Conglomerate, or No. XII, as the foundation, a true section of the coal measures of the county would read upwards as follows, according to J. W. Scott, esq.:

"From the cannel slate and coal to Bed A, 30 feet. From A to B, 50 to 60 feet. B to intermediate vein 30 feet, and from latter to C, 30 feet. From C to slate vein (slate and coal mixed) 30 feet, and from latter to D (Lower Freeport) 30 feet. D to D2, 30 feet, and from D2 to E or Moshannon bed, 40 feet. From E to F or Rider Bed, 40 feet, and from F to G or Cap Bed, 30 feet.

"After 30 feet of cover on Cap Bed, we reach the Mahoning Sandstone with the barren measures and barren beds rising above.

"The Mahoning Sandstone does not appear in place until we pass Houtzdale. At Ramey large accumulations of barren measures superimpose the Mahoning.

"This is what may be properly called an average section, varying with locality. Each bed has its own specific bed rock as well as cover, varying in different places. The different seams or beds of coal are not uniform throughout. but vary in size and quality."

The rocks composing the barren measures are found only in a few townships of the county. According to Dr. H. M. Chance in his report H. 7, "they are capping the high summits of the Bloomington ridge, south of Curwensville and Clearfield, and also in the trough of the Andersonville sub-basin. They also cover a considerable area in Beccaria and Guelich townships."

Between these two rocks therefore lie all the mineral wealth of the Clearfield region, viz., the Seral or No. XII Conglomerate and the Mahoning Sandstone.

"The county is divided into three great coal basins, known respectively as the First, Second, and Third Basins, which pass through the county in a general southwest and northeast course.

"They are separated by two anticlinal axes, commonly known as the First and Second axes, the third basin being separated by the Third or Boon’s Mountain anticlinal from the Fourth basin of Jefferson and Elk counties.

"Beginning at the southeastern corner of the county, and passing northwest to Boon’s Mountain at the northwestern corner of the county, we pass over the following axes and basins:

Eastern sub-basin

First Basin. Guelich township sub-anticlinal

Utahville-Ramey-Houtzdale-Osceola-Philipsburg-Morrisdale basin.

First Anticlinal Axis -- Laurel Hill axis.

Ansonville sub-basin -- Karthaus basin.

Second Basin. Marion sub-anticlinal -- Nolo axis of Indiana county.

Pennville sub-basin.

Second Anticlinal Axis -- Chestnut Ridge -- Driftwood axis.

Eastern sub-basin.

Third Basin. Second sub-anticlinal.

Du Bois -- Benezette basin.

Third Anticlinal Axis -- Boon’s Mountain axis.

"The significance of the lines marked upon geological maps to show the axial line of anticlinal uplifts is not understood by many persons. Some imagine a distinction is to be made between an ‘anticlinal’ and an ‘axis;’ that one brings up the conglomerate, No. XII, and throws the coals out into the air, while the other does not. Others suppose that this occurs where an ‘anticlinal’ or an ‘axis’ is marked upon the map. It is, therefore, proper to explain here that --

"1st. An anticlinal is simply a fold or roll in the rocks, or a line along which they are uplifted.

"2d. An axis is the central or crest-line of an anticlinal; in other words the line along which the greatest uplift is found. The term axis is often used synonymously with anticlinal." -- Report H. 7.

The trough of the first basin extends from Utahville through Ramey, Houtzdale, and Osceola. It crosses the Moshannon Creek into Centre county at the Mapleton Branch Railroad, re-crossing again into Clearfield county near the schutes of the Atalanta No. 3 colliery, crossing back into Centre county below the town of Phillipsburg, and again crossing into Clearfield county at the mouth of Emigh Run, where it gradually rises until near Morrisdale, when it "spoons" out. But still the basin can be distinctly traced north through Kylertown, when it deflects towards the east and passes over into Centre county.

The central line of this basin follows the valley of the Beaver Run from Osceola Mills to Houtzdale. The Centre county side of the basin catches only a small area of the upper beds, the rise on the southeast side of the axis being very steep.

The basin is full of faults. Three of these are found in the Moshannon workings. Serious faults have also been encountered in the Morrisdale mines (an upthrow of 42 feet) in the Allport, Franklin, Penn, Arctic, and many other collieries; in fact there are very few mines in this basin in which more or less serious disturbances have not been found.

The mines opened along the Beaver Run on the Moshannon Branch Railroad show that the measures rise towards the northwest and southwest. But in nearly all of the collieries reverse and local dips are encountered, and in some cases they are of such a serious nature as to cause much extra expense in overcoming them; Eureka No. 5 and No. 10 being examples. Clay seams and a pinching down of the roof, thereby thinning down the coal, often occurs; but the most serious disturbances, and the most difficult to overcome, are the numerous dislocations or displacements of coal seams. In every case of a "downthrow" it goes to the southwest, and in a line of fracture or slip has a southeast and northwest bearing. On the north of the Beaver Run, and extending northeast from Houtzdale to Morrisdale, these dislocations occur very often, showing displacements of the coal bed from ten to fifty feet. The first on the north side of the Beaver Run is at Stirling mine, No. 2, which shows a "downthrow" to the southwest of twenty-one feet, and having a southeast and northwest course. The next are two faults in the Laurel Run mine, which occurred within forty-five yards of each other. One indicates a "downthrow" of twelve feet, and the line of slip is south ten degrees east, the other bearing north forty degrees east, and is a "downthrow" of fifty-three feet; line of slip north forty degrees west. The next fault is at the Decatur mine, which shows a "downthrow" to the southwest of ten feet. At the Empire mine there is one twenty feet. At the Pardee, one half mile from Decatur mine, there is another, but do not know the number of feet of displacement. The general direction or bearing of the slips are southeast and northwest, and "downthrows" toward the southwest. When these faults are encountered they often destroy the whole plan of the under-ground workings, and unless the mine manager has the necessary skill and general adaptability, they are very expensive to overcome.

The majority of the mines opened in the first basin are opened on the E Bed. The exceptions are named below. This bed is called the D by Professor Chance, and the B by Professor Platt, but later developments plainly show that it is the E or Mammoth Bed of the Anthracite region.

The first bed above the Seral Conglomerate is known as Bed A, the next as Bed B, the next Bed C, and so on to the top bed which is known as Bed G, and is immediately underneath the Mahoning sandstone. If there were no disturbances it would be easy to know what bed was being worked by counting either from the bottom or from the top rock, but sundry local beds appear now and then, not true beds, but oftentimes offshoots of the regular bed, and these sporadic beds may exist over miles of area. When first found they mislead the miner and geologist into thinking they have another persistent bed, and behold another letter is wanted for it, but the letters all being appropriated some years ago they tack to their new found child a letter with the second power -- for instance, A Prime, B Prime, etc. This is often the case in the Clearfield region, and thus the geologist is wrong from no fault of his. To get at the true letter then of the bed so extensively worked in the first basin we commence at the top and count down. We find first the Cap Bed, G, next the Rider Bed, F. This bed is worked by W. C. Langsford & Co., and the coal sold in the borough of Houtzdale for home consumption. Under Bed F is the Moshannon Bed, or E.

The reason Professor Platt called the bed at the Moshannon mine B, was due to the (then undefined) faults at this and the Beaverton mines, which throw the coal down to within a few feet of the railroad. The same mistake was made in naming the bed at the Franklin colliery, while local geologists claimed that the bed worked in the Penn colliery was not the same bed that was worked in the Eureka No. 1 mine, and this, too, after a person could enter the one mine and pass out through the other one. An erroneous opinion is one of the hardest things to correct, sometimes even when ocular proof is offered. These mistakes do not matter much to the general reader, or to the average citizen, but oftentimes properties have been condemned which have since been reclaimed by local, competent men.

The coal worked at the Philadelphia mine at Osceola Mills, and at the Reliance mine near the same place, and at the Powelton Black Diamond mine, is taken from Bed B. The coal worked in the Morrisdale mines is taken from Bed C, as traces of the ferriferous limestone is found beneath the bed. The coal from the mines on Pine Run is taken from Bed B. Bed F was opened on Hughes’s Farm, and found to be two feet, six inches thick.

The mines worked along the line of the Bells’s Gap Railroad are all on Bed B.

There is very little known about the second basin as yet; the region not being opened, and the country but sparsely settled, and covered in most places by dense forests.

A sub-anticlinal enters the county from Cambria county, a little southwest of East Ridge, and runs near Marion towards Kerrmoor. This anticlinal has not been fully developed. It is known as the Marion Anticlinal. The center of the trough of the second basin is supposed to extend from Lumber City, south from Curwensville and Clearfield, along the upper portion of Bradford township, and the lower east end of Girard township, and about through the center of Covington and Karthaus townships, and thence into Cameron county.

The mountainous wilderness north of Clearfield borough, embracing an area of about one hundred and fifty square miles, is without human inhabitants, is traversed by few roads, and according to Chance, is principally occupied by rocks of the Conglomerate series, forming sterile soil. Therefore it is impossible to say what this land may contain.

"North of Clearfield the measures rise steadily towards the second anticlinal axis, so that while the ground three or four miles north of the river is very high, we find the hill topped by only the lower portion of the coal measures, and six or seven miles (in an air line) north of Clearfield on the road leading towards the old Caledonia pike, we find the summits sandy and rocky and covered with blocks of conglomerate. The summits on this road are 2100 to 2150 feet above tide.

"One mile and a half north-west of Clearfield we find several banks opened. The lower bed shows about two feet and a half of coal with a slate parting one-half to one inch thick, five inches from the bottom. This bank is opened at an elevation of about 1310 feet above tide, and is probably on the Kittanning Middle coal, Bed C. The Joseph Shaw bank on the opposite side of the ravine is about twenty feet lower, but is thought to be on the same bed; it shows but little more than two feet of coal." -- Report H. 7.

Forty-five feet above the former opening a bank was opened on Bed C, and two beds are supposed to lie in the hill above this mine, one of which showed five feet of coal, but a fault was encountered which ran the bed down to an insignificant thickness. This was Bed E.

The old Karthaus-Caledonia pike runs for about three miles through the northern part of Lawrence township, through sandy "barrens," formed by the Conglomerate, which is here elevated by the Caledonia sub-axis. But as the Elk county line is approached, the rocks rapidly sink to the northwest, towards Caledonia, and the coal measures are soon found on the hill-tops, and the character of the land is similar to that made by the coal measures in other localities.

Bed E was opened in Karthaus township many years ago, and mined extensively by old Peter Arns Karthaus, at the place named after himself; the coal averaging five feet six inches. The old workings were allowed to close, however, and to remain so until, in 1883, when John Whitehead and Berwind, White & Company opened large mines in this township, the one at Karthaus and the other at Three Runs. The coal proved to be over six feet in thickness at each of these mines. They are now both owned and worked by the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company. This coal, however, has the "bony" on its top, and a small slate parting in the center. This parting is not persistent, however, and is often wanting.

Bed E does not cover a large area in this township, as it lies very high on the hill-tops, and is, moreover, confined to the hills close to the river. The other beds are not yet opened.

In Covington township the lower beds have been extensively worked for home consumption, but the opening the E at Karthaus has discouraged the farmers from attempting to compete with the mines of the Big Bed, as it is locally named, around Frenchville.

About two miles from Wallaceton a mine has been opened along the line of the Beech Creek road, which is supposed to be on Bed B.

Between Wallaceton and Woodland the rapid dip towards the center of the second basin is plainly shown by some of the railroad cuts, and in one cut a bed of coal is exposed, which shows a remarkably sharp dip to the north. he lower portion of the coal measures occupy most of the surface of Bradford township, and only a small portion is sufficiently high to take in the upper bed of the series.

There is a mine near Woodland which produces a peculiar kind of coal, which nearly resembles and is taken for cannel. On examination, however, it is found that this coal is bituminous shale, and is met with very often in the first coal basin. It makes a good house coal, but is practically worthless for other purposes. It contains a large percentage of ash, which certifies to its character. The amount being limited, however, a ready sale will be found for all that can be produced. The following facts are extracted from Report H:

"Passing west and northwest along the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad from Blue Ball station, about one-half mile beyond the station, is marked by a beautiful exhibition of the seral conglomerate. Enormous bowlders of finegrained white quartzose sandstone, with some brownish massive sandstone, are found, and occasionally massive layers of conglomerate rock, with rounded white quartz pebbles of the size of a pea or larger. The mass rises as a wall fifty to sixty feet high. Some of the loose blocks will contain over two thousand cubic feet. As exposed here, this mass of sandstone and conglomerate should be in all some two hundred or more feet in thickness.

"The Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad, following the stream, keeps in this conglomerate, sometimes dipping softly in one direction and then back again, or about flat until near Wallaceton, where overlying measures come in, and coal is found out-cropping. In wells in the village a small coal is struck only a few feet below the surface, with from six to twelve feet of fire-clay underlying it. Where the lowest exposed coal was struck in a well, about five hundred yards southwest of Wallaceton, it shows about two to two and one-half feet of coal, with fire-clay floor and sandy gray slates for cover. The dip at this point is slightly back to the southeast.

"At Shimmel’s opening, two-thirds of a mile northeast of the station, the main entry has fallen in; but from the size of the opening the bed could not have been large. Gray slates overlie the bed. On the hill south of this mine two small beds were once opened up, dipping to the southeast.

"The valleys of Clearfield and Little Clearfield Creeks are sharp, narrow gorges, eroded in the hard rocks, forming the Conglomerate series No. XII. The high land back from these streams commonly contains about two hundred feet of coal measures, and the higher knobs probably take in the Mahoning sandstone."

Messrs. Chase & Van Dusen have opened up a mine on Little Clearfield Creek, which shows four feet six inches of Bed E. This mine rises southeast, towards Clearfield Creek.

A little further up the Little Clearfield the O’Shanter Coal Company have built a railroad about two miles, along a run, at right angles to the creek, and have opened up and are now shipping from Bed E. This mine rises towards the southwest. The bed here is capped by about one foot to eighteen inches of cannel, of the same quality as that minded near Woodland, and is shipped and sold separate from the other coals. The remainder of the bed measures from three feet two inches to three feet six inches, making a total width of the bed from four feet two inches to four feet six inches.

Between Curwensville and Bloomington, Bed D has been opened up in a number of places, and furnishes a bright black, shining columnar coal, with only a small amount of sulphur, and yielding a small amount of ash -- in other words, a fuel of high order.

In the region between Bloomington and Little Clearfield creek a strong northwest dip pervades the rocks, so that the coal is here more than a hundred feet higher than when opened near Curwensville. This rise to the southeast continues over into Knox township, and near the Pleasant Ridge school-house on the "Barrens" road the Mahoning Sandstone is seen at an elevation of 1650 feet, more or less, above tide.

A large number of country banks have been opened on beds A and B in the neighborhood of Curwensville, but they rarely round more that two and a half to three feet of coal, and that of rather poor quality and often very sulphurous. These workings have, therefore, been abandoned, the banks have long since fallen shut and the beds cannot be measured.

The line of greatest elevation of the first anticlinal axis passes through the northwestern part of Bigler township, lifting the top of the Conglomerate No. XII about 240 feet above Clearfield Creek in the hills near the mouth of Lost Run. The prevailing dip is north of west towards the central line of the Second Basin, but local dips to the southeast are occasionally observed. The northwest dip is very strong in the vicinity of the head-waters of Potts Run. Some of the high land between Potts and Lost Runs takes in all the productive measures, but the area underlaid by the Freeport Beds is comparatively small. Limestone occurs near the Cove Run school-house, and a bed of coal five feet thick is found on the Irvin estate on Lost Run.

Throughout the southeastern part of Jordan township the coals are elevated by this uplift of the first anticlinal axis, but the prevailing dip is gently to the northwest towards Ansonville. On the road from Glen Hope to Ansonville and Gazzam, the Mahoning sandstone is seen capping the summits of the hills. In the vicinity of Ansonville this rock does not out-crop prominently, but its place is about 200 feet lower down than where seen near Glen Hope, showing a dip to the northwest.

Going northwest into Ferguson township, we find the Mahoning sandstone 125 feet higher on Campbell Run. This fact locates the central line of the Second Basin near Ansonville. In the extreme western corner of this township the Mahoning sandstone lies 150 to 175 feet higher than on Campbell Run, which helps to prove where the trough of the basin may be found.

The coal is opened and worked very extensively in and around Gazzam by the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Corporation, and finds its way to market over Beech Creek Railroad. The bed worked is the E, and varies from three feet six inches to four feet. The coal is clean, bright, shining, columnar, and with an almost inappreciable amount of sulphur, and is low in ash.

Bed E is opened up near Pennville, though no shipments are made from there. The coal is about five feet thick, and resembles the coal mined in the First Basin from that bed.

A three foot bed was opened about three miles above Bellville. The coal was not of good quality, and appeared as if it was taken from Bed B. This, however, is not certain. Future developments may change the whole character of this coal.

"Three beds of limestone have been found in the hills south of the river, Greenwood township. They are probably the Freeport Upper and Lower Limestones and the Johnstown Cement Bed, and this is the only locality at which the presence of all three beds are known or even suspected. The coals are opened up, but the upper beds are all thin, barely reaching three feet, but one of the lower beds (probably Bed B) is quite thick. In the absence of openings that may be examined, the thickness and character of the coals in this township must be judged from openings in the adjoining townships.

"At Lewisville the Johnstown Cement (limestone) Seam was opened and the product burnt some years ago, but as it was found to be very impure, the enterprise was abandoned and the kiln torn down. The seam lies about two hundred feet above the river.

"In the northern part of Bell township the land is very high, the crest of the divide between the waters of the Susquehanna River and Mahoning Creek often reaching a height (by barometer) of more than 2200 feet above tide. This high land marks the uplift of the Second or Chestnut Ridge anticlinal axis. It is capped by the Mahoning sandstone.

"From this ridge southwardly and southeastwardly towards the river we find the measures dipping rapidly, so that the place of Bed B is about three hundred and fifty feet above the river near McGee’s.

"In the country drained by streams flowing west and northwest to the Mahoning, the dip is probably west or northwest towards the center of the Third Basin." -- Report H. 7.

The Clearfield and Jefferson Railroad extends from Irvona to Chests. This road will be extended to Punxsutawney on the west and to Madera on the east, and will fully open up all this section of country.

The coal is not opened up enough either in Burnside or Chest townships to warrant any record of their quality or the thickness of the beds being given at this time. From what can be learned, however, it is safe to say that the beds are of moderate thickness. From local openings they have been found to be as high as six feet and as low as four feet in thickness. In Burnside township the No. XII Seral Conglomerate is above water level along the Susquehanna River, but passes beneath water level on either side of the river. The Mahoning sandstone is seen in place as a massive conglomerate capping the summits of the hills east of Cherry Tree.

"Going east towards Somerville’s Mill, on Chest Creek, the summits reach a height of 400 feet above the river, and still show the Mahoning sandstone as a prominent cap-rock.

"Going north towards New Washington there are higher summits, but the Mahoning sandstone does not show prominently. It is possible that many of these hills are not quite high enough to catch this rock, but it is more probably that the rock here exists as a soft, shaly sandstone and does not make a well-marked outcrop. East of New Washington it is plainly seen in the high knobs overlooking Chest Creek." --Report H. 7.

The trough of the Third Coal Basin, within the county follows the line of the Low Grade railroad from Tylers southwest to within a few miles of Du Bois, and then apparently leaves the valley to run under the high land near or south of West Liberty. It is a continuation northeast of the Punxsutawney coal field.

The third anticlinal axis (or Boon’s Mountain axis) crosses the extreme northwestern corner of the county, in a northeast and southwest direction. It is probable that only five miles of the axis lie within the county.

Within the third coal basin are all the mines that are worked along the line of the Low Grade division of the Allegheny Valley Railroad, from Du Bois on the west to Tylers on the east, and lying in Huston and Brady townships.

From West Liberty northward towards Du Bois the measures lie flat, so that, while the center of the basin is near West Liberty, the Freeport coals do not come above water-level until we reach Du Bois.

The coal worked west of the latter town, by the Rochester and Hildrup Companies, is the same that is worked at Reynoldsville, i. e., Bed E.

At the Rochester mine the bed shows very thick, in some parts of the workings approaching seven feet, with a slate parting about two feet below the roof.

Coming eastward, up the Low Grade Railroad, towards the town of Du Bois, we find the Barren measures coming down to water-level. This accounts for the absence of this coal in the Du Bois hills -- it there lies below water-level. This has been proven by several holes drilled for water in and near the town.

From Du Bois eastward to the Summit tunnel the cuttings on the railroad are all in Barren measure rocks, and at the tunnel there is a thickness of over two hundred feet of these measures.

Between Luthersburg and Rockton the hills are rarely high enough to catch the Freeport lower coal with sufficient mining cover. The lower coals have been opened on the head-waters of the Luthersburg branch of Sandy Lick Creek, but they are rather thin -- commonly two and a half to three feet thick. The Freeport lower limestone outcrops in the road on the summit.

The Barren measures occupy the central part of this basin from near Winterburn southwest to Brady township. The coal opened at Winterburn may be one of the higher beds, probably Bed F, and the same may be said of the openings made at Penfield, but at Tylers the bed worked has every indication of being Bed E. The coal in the mine at Tylers is nearly four feet thick, but is very sulphurous. The product of this mine is crushed, washed, and coked before being shipped.

Clearfield County Fire Clays. -- Fire clay is found and worked in the first and second coal basins in the county, and near the borders of the county in the third coal basin.

The fire-brick works at Retort and Sandy Ridge, about three and four miles respectively from Osceola Mills, are in Centre county, not far from the line. The clay worked ranges from four feet to six feet thick, averaging five feet or more; but ranges in places from four feet to twelve feet in thickness.

The clay worked is in three layers, and these are kept separate, the different qualities of these layers making them specially valuable for different purposes. The top layer is said to be adapted for furnace bottoms; the middle layer, the hard clay, is used for bricks, and the third layer for making tiles and the in-walls of furnaces. The hard, sandy clay in the bottom is not worked. These clays rest upon the conglomerate (XII) and are therefore at the bottom of the lower coal measures.

Three miles west of Blue Ball station, on the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad, the Harrisburg Fire Brick Company have opened and are working an extensive fire-clay mine. The clay is shipped to Harrisburg, where it is manufactured into bricks. These bricks are used for heating and puddling furnaces, and for the lining of blast furnaces, chiefly in the Schuylkill, Susquehanna and Cumberland Valleys. The clay is also shipped to Pittsburgh, where it is made into pots for the use of glass works.

The clays worked are in three layers, called respectively the upper layer, or "shell clay;" the middle layer, or "block clay," called the best of the three; the lower layer, or "flag clay."

These clays, in their floor, cover, character, and size, resemble strongly the Sandy Ridge fire-clays, and give every evidence of being the same bed, altered but little in its passage underground from the Sandy Ridge mine, on the crest of the Allegheny Mountain, to this Blue Ball mine, where the clay is again raised high up and comes out to daylight near the summit of the first anticlinal sub-axis.

The Wallaceton Fire Brick Company have opened the clay bed at a point below Wallaceton, and are extensively working it. The Woodland Fire Brick Company have opened and are working the clay on both sides of Roaring Run Brook, about forty feet about the stream. The hill rises fifty feet above, covered on the surface with sandstone lumps, usually of moderate size, without any pebble rock conglomerate.

The working face of clay exposed measured an average of about five feet of hard, good-looking clay, with softer or more impure fire-clay in roof and floor. While a part of this five-foot clay occasionally deteriorated temporarily in character, yet the general average of the bed, both in size and quality is sustained with much regularity.

Another drift, about one hundred yards away, shows nearly the same thing, but with perhaps more of the inferior, and less of the valuable, clay showing in the working face.

The mine opened at Barrett Station, some years ago, was never worked to any great extent. In fact the clay was not worth much, and the mine was abandoned soon after its opening.

The mine opened in Clearfield town, east of the depot, according to Professor Platt, "showed a curious exaggeration of an ordinary fire-clay deposit," being mixed with coal, iron ore, sandstone, and black slate. There were eight layers of fire-clay, some impure mixed with shales, some mixed with sand, while others were mixed with nodular iron ore balls. There were, however, eight feet of fairly good clay in the mine at the beginning, but it soon diminished in size and quality, and the mine was abandoned. The clay now used in the works is brought from around Woodland and Blue Ball.

R. B. Wigton & Sons have opened up the clay at the head of the Ashland siding on the Coal Run Branch Railroad. This clay is evidently the same clay that is worked at Sandy Ridge, as it also rests upon the conglomerate (XII) here, coming to the surface within a mile of the works, at the summit of the anticlinal axis.

A very fine bed of clay was exposed in a railroad cutting of an extension of Moshannon Branch to Madera, on W. C. Dickinson’s place. The clay showed up eleven feet, but at this present writing it has not been worked. It is supposed to be the same bed worked elsewhere in the county, but this is not asserted, because so little of the bed has been exposed that it is impossible, as yet, to say that it lies on the conglomerate.

This fire-clay, no doubt, covers the conglomerate over a large area of the county, and future generations will be the parties who will have the pleasure of proving whether this is so or not.

The mineral wealth of Clearfield county might be said to have been only touched so far. The vast deposits of coal that are known to lie within her territory will give employment to thousands, and enlist the capital of moneyed men for hundreds of years to come. Though the woods are nearly cut down and the lumber industry might be said to be passing away, yet it is only to make room for the young giant now lying in swaddling clothes in the cradle of the present. This giant will, in a very few years, give evidence of its power, and the geologist of the future will know a great deal more than can be known or can even be dreamed of at present. 


Source: Pages 203-215, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed April, 1999 by Patti J. Exster for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (

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