Aldrich History Project

Chapter XIV.

A Review Of The Development Of The Coal Interests
of the
Celebrated Houtzdale-Osceola-Philipsburg Region.

The coal production of the county has been developed in so short a time that, to the general reader not knowing the full facts, it may appear like a tale copied from the "Arabian Nights," or told by a second Munchausen.

Beginning in the year 1862, with only 7,239 tons output for that year, it has grown in the short time of twenty-four years to near four millions of tons in 1885. No comparison is made with the year 1886, for the reason that a three months' strike, which then occurred, limited the product some 330,000 tons, while the scarcity of cars for transporting the output must have cut off some 200,000 tons more, a total loss of about 530,000 tons in round numbers.

It is the purpose of this chapter to show how this great industry has been developed, and trace it, step by step, to the present time, and, as near as possible, to make an accurate record of the several collieries comprising the now world-renowned Houtzdale-Osceola-Philipsburg region. So great, indeed, has been this output that it is deemed of sufficient importance to be made the subject of a special chapter in this work. The other coal-producing localities will receive full mention in the several townships of which they form a part.

This region, geologically, is known as the first bituminous coal basin, and extends from Utahville in the southwest, to Peale in the northeast, of the lower or southeastern part of the county, and embraces within its borders the Houtzdale, Osceola, and Philipsburg sub-regions. The south and east lines of the county having for its boundaries Cambria and Centre counties respectively, the first basin naturally extends over into these counties; but, with the exception of four mines near to Osceola, that ore worked in Centre county, and the mines at Ansonville in the E basin, all the production passing over the railroads leading from the county is mined within its limits.

The first basin contains several workable veins or beds of coal; among the number being the celebrated "Moshannon vein," from which is taken, with one, or possibly two exceptions, all the coals known as the "Clearfield coals," and which has given this region its reputation. This Moshannon bed is known as "Bed E," and varies in thickness from two feet and under to over ten feet, but its normal thickness is from four and one half to five feet, and is generally without slate partings, but with a "bony" coal immediately beneath its top rock. That also varies in thickness --from three inches to one foot -- but normally about five inches, and has no parting from the coal.

At times, however, a parting of the "bituminous shale," or false cannel, forms near the center of the bed, and in one instance at least this "cannel" became rock, over a foot in thickness. This is not general, however, and the bed is free from all impurities except the "bone" on its top, which is easily separated and cast away by the miner.

The coal from the Moshannon Bed early became noted for its freedom from sulphur and other impurities, and therefore its small percentage of ash. Very little of it was "coked," as it was too good to coke, and the coal was used in its raw state for the generation of steam (especially in locomotives and ocean steamers), for rolling-mills, and blacksmith forges, and for the making of glass and other products requiring specially pure coals. Its freedom from sulphur made it very desirable as a cargo for ocean-going vessels, and for the firing of ocean steamers, as there was no danger incurred from spontaneous combustion.

The coal is not screened for the market, but "slack" and "lump" is shipped together, and commonly known as the "run of the mine." True, there are one or two screens erected in the region, but these are not used to get the "lump," but on the contrary, the customer wants the "slack," without the lump.

These coals did not win their way into public favor without the usual drawbacks. It was not generally known that the purer the coal the finer would it be mined, and as there was and is very few lumps in this coal, and as it did not make the favorable appearance "on board cars," that screened bituminous coals generally does, it was condemned at sight, and before trial on locomotive engines that were used to draw the first of these coals to market; and they therefore burned coal brought from Westmoreland county, and the engines, with one accord, agreed that the Clearfield county coal was worth nothing as a steam producer until after an exhaustive analysis, this coal, when it was found to contain more pure carbon than bituminous coal generally, and then the superintendents of the roads near the region concluded to try it in their locomotives, upon which it was found to be far superior to all other steam producers, not excepting anthracite coal, and at once it jumped public favor, and to-day all the important railroads in Northern New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, use coal from these mines, while the great Pennsylvania road draws nearly all its supplies from the county for its system eastward of Tyrone; and many of the large ocean-going steamers derive their power from the wealth that once laid in the hills of this county.

The first shipment of coal over the Tyrone and Clearfield railway was made from the mine now known as the "Powelton," three miles south of Osceola Mills, and though in Centre county, yet its production is added in the total mined from Clearfield county, so that we will have to note it. The railroad was finished to that point in 1862, and the mine shipped 7,239 net tons for that year. It was then owned by John Nuttal, afterwards by the Powelton Coal and Iron Company, who worked it for a number of years, and then leased it to W. J. Jackson, who named the mine "Black Diamond," and still works it.

There were sundry local openings on the bed made before this time, and the coal sold to the citizens about the locality, but none was carried any great distance, with the exception of the coal from the Goss Farm, in Decatur township, where an opening was made as early as 1830, and the coal conveyed to Spruce Creek by wagons. The Drane colliery is now working this ancient mine.

The Derby mine, about three-fourths of a mile west of Philipsburg, was opened in 1860 by George Zeiglar, and the coal hauled on a tram-road to Philipsburg and sold for local use. When the railroad reached that point in 1864, this mine was ready to ship; its schutes were located nearly opposite the depot, and it can justly claim being the first mine in the county to ship its coal to market over the new railroad. This mine is still being worked by the Barnes Brothers, but an extension known as the Derby Branch was built in 1870, and the coal is now loaded and shipped on that branch.

The next mine to ship was the "Cuba," immediately opposite Philipsburg. This mine was opened in 1863 by a Mr. Saltilda, and afterwards worked under the name of "Cody Ridge," by J. N. Cassanova, who owns the lands on which this and Derby mines are placed, and is now worked again under the name of "Cuba," by the Cuba Coal Company.

The year 1864 also witnessed the opening of a mine about half a mile east of Osceola Mills, and opposite the old Enterprise mine, by a Mr. Fulton, who only shipped a few cars, when he abandoned his enterprise, and retired from the field. This mine was long known as "Fulton's Folly," why, it is hard to ascertain at this late date.

There was another mine opened during 1864 immediately opposite Osceola Mills, and just over the line in Centre county, and known as the "Smith," on the lands of A. G. Curtin, D. I. Pruner, and others. The lease was transferred afterward to John Miller, and he conveyed it to William Wallace and John Tucker, who re-named the colliery the "Wallace." In the mean time the Osceola Company had acquired by purchase all the right of Curtin et. als. in the lands, and that company was merged afterwards in the Moshannon Land and Lumber Company. On the 31st of July, 1873, the lease expired, and the mine reverted to the land owners, who subsequently leased it to Isaac Rose and Michael McHugh. They re-named the colliery the "Philadelphia," by which it still appears on the record, though not shipping much coal. The vein worked is the B.

The coal production had increased in 1863 to 24,330 net tons, and in 1864 to 65,380 net tons (and here it might be mentioned that in all computations of coal production, where tons are spoken of, it will mean net tons). In 1865, however, there was only shipped 60,629 tons, a decrease of 4,751 tons, though another colliery was opened during that year on the Crane estate, opposite which in 1867, there was another mine opened, and both named "Enterprise." The "Enterprise" that was opened on the Crane property was in Clearfield county, and its coal was hauled across the creek on trestle work, and dumped into cars in Centre county. The mine ran for about five years, when it was abandoned. The "Enterprise" that was opened in 1867 on lands of Fred Dale, in Centre county, is still running, the property now being owned by Judge Orvis and Colonel D. H. Hastings. This mine has been operated by numerous parties, and under several names, but is now known as the "Phoenix," and operated by the Elizabeth Coal Company.

The Moshannon Branch Railroad was commenced in 1864, and completed as far as Moshannon in 1866, with a branch up Coal Run to the old Decatur mine. In June, 1866, a mine on the lands of the Moshannon Coal Company, on the south side of the railroad, was opened by the land owners, the Moshannon Coal Company on the tract formerly known as the John Anderson, and called "Moshannon," J. H. H. Walters, superintendent. This mine ran until about 1880, when it was abandoned by its owners, a new one having been opened immediately opposite in 1876, and called "New Moshannon," and which is still in operation, though now leased to the Clearfield Consolidated Coal Company. Both of these mines were very successful ventures, and first brought to general notice the Clearfield coals.

The old Decatur colliery, of which mention has been made, was also opened in June, 1866, on the lands of the Decatur Coal Company, on the Coal Run Branch. The owner or operator was John Nuttal, who had previously operated the Powelton colliery. This mine ran for about two years, when it was abandoned, the pioneer coal operator having other works opened, and the rails on the branch were taken up in 1869, and the branch abandoned as they thought for all time. Little did they know at that time what wealth lay hidden in the hills surrounding them. The shipments for the year 1866 reached 107,878 tons.

In the fall of 1868 the Kittanning Coal Company, or rather the Beaver Branch Coal Company, which was an offshoot of the Moshannon Land and Lumber Company, opened the Beaverton colliery on their lands about a quarter of a mile above Moshannon. This became the largest colliery in the region at the time, though, in this day, it would not be counted very great. The colliery has been "worked out" for some time and is now abandoned. The region shipments for the year 1867 were 169,219, and for 1868 reached 171,238 tons.

During the summer of 1868 the Moshannon Branch Railroad was extended about two miles further west, and in the summer of 1869 the rails were laid upon the portion graded, and Stirling No. 1 commenced August 11, 1869, to add to the production. This colliery was opened upon the lands of A.B. Long, formerly the Casper Haines tract, and in a very short time became the largest colliery in the region. This supremacy it retains to this time. The colliery was opened by the Stirling Coal Company; John F. Blandy, agent; George D. Wood was the superintendent. In 1870 the Stirling Coal Company sold half of their interest to the Powelton Coal and Iron Company, and in 1872 sold the remaining half to the same parties, who are still the owners. The present superintendent is James Campbell.

The Mapleton Branch was completed in 1869, and Mapleton colliery was opened during this year, on the lands of the Mapleton Land Company (formerly the Hammerslag farm) and D. W. McCurdy. This mine had been producing coal for some time, as a "country" bank, the coal being sold to the farmers and others who lived around the opening. It is still "at work," having passed through the hands of Schofield & Weaver to White & Lingle; from them to Berwind, White & Company, and from them to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, the present operators.

The amount shipped from the region for the year 1869 was 259,994 tons. During the following year, 1870, the Moshannon Branch Railroad was extended a quarter of a mile further, and the Eureka colliery opened and commenced to ship coal March 14, 1870. This colliery was owned by White & Lingle, and was situated on the lands of Dr. Houtz, of Alexandria, Huntingdon county. The coal in this mine proved to be the purest of any that had been opened up to that time, and the mine itself was without a "fault" from the beginning to the end. In 1874 the mine passed into the hands of Berwind, White & Company, and from them to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company. It shipped coal to November 18, 1886, when it was closed, except that the company is still mining a small amount and selling it to the citizens of the town of Houtzdale.

The name "Eureka" was registered as a trade-mark by the Berwind-White Company, and its name is significant of the purity of this company's production.

The Morrisdale Branch Railroad from Philipsburg was commenced in 1867, and graded towards Loch Lomond to accomodate the interests of the lumbermen at that point.

At Hawk Run, about two miles from the town named, another branch northward was built, and the "New Decatur" colliery opened in July, 1868, by John Nuttal, George W. McGaffey, and others, under the name of the "Decatur Coal Company," Mr. Nuttal being the same person who successfully operated the Powelton and the Decatur collieries heretofore mentioned. Some time afterwards they moved further northward and opened another colliery, which they also named "Decatur," and which is still being operated; George W. McGaffey, superintendent.

In 1869 this second branch railroad, mentioned as being opened at Hawk Run, was still further extended northward, and Wigton, Doris, Holt and others opened the first of the Morrisdale collieries. These mines were opened on the tract of land originally warranted to Robert Morris, and were named "Morrisdale" in honor of that distinguished Revolutionary patriot. The first change in the firm name was when Doris retired, and the firm was styled Wigton & Holt. Afterwards Mr. Holt retired, Mr. Wigton buying his interest, and he, associating his sons with him in the business, the firm became R. B. Wigton & Sons, the present name. This firm has been very successful and now operate about six "Morrisdales" in and around the first opening, besides being the owner of the Fire Brick Works at Steiner Station, near Philipsburg. They opened a fire clay mine at the head of the Coal Run Railroad in 1883, and are now working it.

In the fall of 1870 the Kittanning Coal Company made a lease with the Moshannon Land and Lumber Company to mine the coal on the lands owned by the latter company in Woodward township, and proceeded to open the Franklin colliery, at the same time grading a branch from the end of the Moshannon Branch to their proposed site. This branch was finished, and the colliery commenced to ship coal in the spring of 1871. The lands upon which the openings were made were owned by Dr. Houtz, who owned all the country thereabouts, at that time, he having bought the Philip Loast, William Johnson, Jacob R. Howell, and the George Beckham warrants, in 1852.

The Moshannon Land and Lumber Company were possessed of about 30,000 acres of land behind, or south of Dr. Houtz's lands, but they could not reach their property and ship without first going for some distance through the lands of Dr. Houtz, and a lease was made with that person accordingly. This colliery was worked until 1886 by the parties who opened it, but it was then transferred to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, who are still working it. The colliery has been, and is still a very large one, its daily out-put at this time averaging 1,100 tons. John Lawshe was its first superintendent then in succession Arthur McHugh, John Cameron, Mr. Ramsey, Alexander Thompson, E. A. Foster, and Alexander Cameron, the present superintendent.

In 1871 the Moshannon Branch Railroad was extended about half a mile further west, and J. A. Blattenberger & Company opened their Penn mine on the lands of Dr. Houtz. This mine adjoins on the west of the Eureka No. 1, and is situated with the Eureka, Franklin, Harrison, and Eureka No. 10 in the borough of Houtzdale. The Penn was never a very successful mine, the coal being thinned out in various places to about two feet in thickness, but whatever the bed lacked in thickness it made up in purity. The Penn coals have a wide reputation, and the mine is still producing, though not more than about five cars per day. George Gould is the present superintendent, and the mine is owned and operated by Rickert Brothers & Co.

In 1872 J. P. Hale opened a colliery on the lands owned by himself, and known as the Reading lands, about one and one-half miles northeast of Osceola Mills. The coal was shipped over the Mapleton Branch. This mine was not a success, and in 1873 he opened another mine opposite, and called it "Reading." The Reading is still being operated by Henry Liveright, though not to any great extent. Its production will average one hundred and fifty tons per day.

In 1871 William Wallace, of Philadelphia, opened the "Logan" colliery, on lands owned by himself, on the Mapleton Branch. After successfully operating the mine for some time he sold all his right and title to the "Logan Coal Company," J. M. Reed president. They, in turn, sold or leased the property to John Whitehead & Co., who worked it for some years, after which they sold to Barnhurst, Good & Co., January 7, 1878. The latter meeting with some difficulty, sold to H. J. Smith & Co., and they, January 1, 1883, sold to Henry Liveright & Co., who are still successfully working the colliery. The mine is now shipping about 8,000 tons per month, and its product is looked upon as of superior quality.

In 1873 Nuttal & Bacon opened a mine on the Mapleton Branch, which they called "Laurel Run." This mine was sold soon after 1880 to Josiah M. Bacon, who still works it. In 1882 "Laurel Run No. 2" was opened at the head of the Crowel Run Branch, or, as it is generally known, Mapleton No. 2 Branch. The No. 1 mine was on lands owned by Richard Hughes; the No. 2 on lands formerly known as the "Shaw tract," but now owned by Mr. Bacon. Mine No. 1 has been driven through the hill, and is now connected with No. 2.

Richard Langdon opened a mine on the Crane farm, about a mile below Osceola Mills, in 1873, which he named the "Langdon." This coal was taken over the creek by trestle, and by a tram-road to Dunbar Station where it was loaded in cars on a siding from the main line of the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad. This mine was not a success, and was therefore abandoned in 1874.

During the fall of 1873 and the spring of 1874, the Goss Run Branch Railroad was built, extending from Goss Run Junction with the Moshannon Branch, four miles above Osceola Mills, to lands owned by Samuel Henderson, two miles; and several very important collieries were opened, which materially increased the production.

The first mine to ship on this branch was the "Webster," or, as it was known at that time, "Skaith's." It was opened on lands of the late Dr. Houtz, by Schuylkill county men -- Samuel Parmley, Sheriff Matz, James Simons, Mr. Skaith, and others. They also opened a mine east of the Webster and opposite, across Goss Run, which they called "Diamond." These mines were opened for sometime before the railroad reached them, as the Kittanning Company, who owned the land at the junction with the Moshannon Branch, refused to sell or permit the road to cross their lands for some time, and the patience of Messrs. Parmley, et als., was rapidly being exhausted, when arrangements were effected with the Kittanning Coal Company, whereby the road was graded a little way farther. Another obstacle presented itself; they ran against the lands of the Powelton Coal and Iron Company, and another negotiation had to take place. This resulting satisfactorily, the road was permitted to go on, and it was then finished. The Webster folks, though, had thought seriously of building a tram-road, about two miles long, to bring their coal to the Moshannon Branch, and then build their schutes a little above Stirling. This mine is still at work, the firm name being J. C. Scott & Sons. The "Diamond" mine is worked out and has been abandoned for about two years. The "Webster" was another of the very successful collieries, and handsomely paid its owners for their outlay in opening it. The coal from the "Diamond" mine was brought across the ravine on trestle-work and dumped from the same schutes as the "Webster," practically making one operation of the two openings. The present superintendent's name is Philip Hartman. He has been superintendent during the greatest part of the time the mine has been running.

The next colliery opened on the Goss Run sub-branch was the "Ocean," at the head of the branch. This colliery was situated on the lands of Samuel Henderson, and was opened by John Whitehead, of Huntingdon, an old "Broad Top" operator. He bought the farm of Henderson, and on the 23d day of November, 1874, shipped the first coal. This colliery, though not the largest has shipped more coal in one day, and made the largest monthly shipment of any colliery in the region. In August, 1878, the mine worked twenty-seven days, and shipped 36,0911/2 tons, and mined 1,563 tons two hundred pounds in one day. In September, 1878, the mine shipped 26,280 tons four hundred pounds, and in July, 1879, in twenty-five days' work, they shipped 31,435 tons one hundred pounds.

The firm operating this mine was Harned, Ogle & Co., the "Co." being John Whitehead. Afterwards, Mr. Ogle dying, a Mr. Jacobs was admitted to the firm, which was styled Harned, Jacobs & Co. Subsequently this firm opened and operated several other collieries in the region, all of which will be noticed in their proper places. They remained in business until November 15, 1885, when they sold all their interests in the Clearfield and Snow Shoe regions to Berwind, White & Co., Mr. Whitehead, however, retaining his interest until January 1, 1887, when he sold out to the remainder of the firm; the firm name now being Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, who are still operating the colliery under review, and which still produces about 350 tons per day. The superintendent of this mine, from its commencement until the present time, is Hugh Roland.

The next to be opened on this branch was the "Excelsior," opposite the "Ocean," at the head of the branch. This mine made its first shipments in January, 1873, from the Jeffry tract, and was opened by Fisher, Miller & Co., of Huntingdon, Pa., their superintendent being Thomas Richards. This mine is still working, and producing quite a respectable amount of coal daily. The firm has been changed since its commencement by the death of one of the Fishers and the withdrawal of Mr. Miller. Mr. Richards is still the superintendent for the firm.

In the spring of 1875 the "Mears Bank" was opened on this branch by George Mears, of Broad Top, who, after working it for about a year, concluded there was no coal in the mine, and sold all his interest to Berwind, White & Co., who altered its name to "Goss Run," and proceeded to make a first class colliery of it. Instead of there being no coal in the mine, it proved to be over six feet thick in a number of places, and of the purest quality. The mine was situated on the land of David Blair, of Huntingdon, and was a little below the "Diamond" and opposite the "Webster." The superintendent is Peter Cameron, sr.

There was one other mine opened on this branch during 1875, about a half a mile above the junction, and was called Stirling No. 2." It was opened by the Powelton Coal and Iron Company on lands of their own. This company it will be remembered was one of the objectors to the Goss Run Branch going forward, and when they asked for a switch to connect their siding with the branch it was refused them unless they paid their share towards the cost of the branch. This they refused in their turn, and the issue was joined. The coal company sought to put in their own "frog," and for that purpose shipped one by freight, but it was lost. They then hauled one over the mountain by wagon to make sure that it would not get lost, but the railroad people found it very convenient to make a siding of the lower part of this branch during each night, consequently no "frog" could be laid. Matters rested thus for some weeks, when an amicable understanding was arrived at, and the siding connected with the branch, and Stirling No. 2 added its quota to the already long list of coal producing collieries. The mine is still at work, though nearly exhausted.

The Moshannon Branch was extended during the year 1875 three miles, to enable D. K. Ramey, of Altoona, who owned the lands at the then terminus, to get his lumber to market. The extension of this branch also opened the way to a very extensive coal field, and in the fall of 1874 William Kendrick commenced to sink a shaft two miles from Houtzdale, on lands of Mr. Ramey, for the purpose of proving the "E Bed," which had dropped below water-level at that point. This shaft is seventy feet deep, and was the first in the region, if we except the Sackett shaft at Osceola Mills, sunk in 1866, to reach the "A Bed" but which was never worked. Mr. Kendrick, however, did not work this shaft to any great extent, but considering the cost of producing the coal too great for that time, he abandoned it, and going east for about three-fourths of a mile nearer Houtszdale, he sank a slope and opened an extensive colliery. This slope he called "Beaver Run." It was situated on lands of the Madera Improvement Company. After working this colliery for some time he sold it to the Beaver Run Coal Company, who operated it for some time longer. They, in turn, leased it to Barnhurst, Good & Co., who failed, and the property reverted to the Beaver Run Coal Company. They sold the improvements to John Whitehead, who removed them. The coal remaining in the ground was leased to the Houtzdale Coal Company. In 1882 Mr. Whitehead commenced to pump out the Kendrick shaft, repaired it and commenced to ship coal from it March 10, 1882. He called the colliery "Ocean No. 2." This mine was turned over to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, along with the other mines of Mr. Whitehead, in 1885, and is now being operated by the latter company.

During 1876, '77, '78, and '79 there seemed to be a falling off in the opening of new collieries, but the spring of 1880 witnessed quite a revival in the business. It is true the production steadily increased during these years of seeming stagnation, but some mines that had been previously opened showed signs of exhaustion, and new fields were explored. The "Goss Run, No. 2," sub-branch, was built in the spring, commencing one mile above its junction, and Berwind, White & Co. opened a new colliery at its head, calling it "Eureka No. 2." This colliery was ready for work July 3, 1880, in fact, made its first shipment (one car) on that day. It is still working and good for 20,000 tons per month. It was situated on the Petrican & McNeil tract, formerly warranted to Mathias Barton, two miles northwest of Houtzdale. This has also been a very successful venture. Its superintendent is Peter Cameron, jr.

On the same day, viz, July 3, 1880, the new colliery, a mile and a half west of Houtzdale, opened by the Moshannon Coal Company, on the Moshannon Branch, also made its first shipment (one car). This mine was named "West Moshannon." There was quite a rivalry between the superintendent of the "Eureka No. 2," and the superintendent of the "West Moshannon," as to who should ship the first car to market. As stated before, both collieries shipped one car on the same day and both were hauled to Osceola by the same engine, the Moshannon car ahead. At Osceola the first car down the branch became the hind car when placed on the parent road, and the coal from "Eureka No. 2" was hauled over the mountain first.

The "West Moshannon" was opened on the Loraine tract, owned by Dr. Loraine, of Philipsburg. It was originally warranted in the name of Israel Wheeling, and adjoins lands of the Houtz estate on the east. P. B. Zentmeyer was and is the superintendent of the company. The coal in this mine has rarely decreased below six feet in thickness, while in places it is up to seven feet. This was the first mine in the region to employ "rope haulage," the tail rope system being in successful operation. The mine was worked by its owners up to January 1, 1887, when it was leased to the Clearfield Consolidated Coal Company, who are operating it at present. Its capacity is about 750 tons daily.

During the summer of 1880 John Whitehead commenced the Atlantic mine on lands of Wallace, Reading & Company, formerly a part of the estate of Samuel Hagerty. This mine was situated on the Moshannon Branch, two miles above Houtzdale, and nearly opposite the Kendrick shaft. The coal here rose up to about water level, or very near it, and the drainage of the mine was had through the shaft. The first shipment from this mine was made in January 1881. This was another of the Harned, Jacobs & Company collieries, and passed with the rest to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, by whom it is now operated; Robert Whitehead, superintendent.

During the fall of 1886 the company determined to place "rope haulage" in this mine, as the territory that could be reached by this opening was very extensive, and to that end they employed Mr. H. M. Morrison, of England, to place his system in the colliery. This system is the "cable," or endless rope haulage, and is now in successful operation, it being the first of its kind in the region. The opening for this mine is erroneously called a "slope," but it is not a slope in the general acceptation of the term, as nearly all of its coal is above water level, and a "slope," as generally understood, means an opening to bring coal or other substance to the surface, by means of an inclined plane, and from below water level.

In the spring of 1881 another sub-branch was built from the Goss Run Branch, commencing about a mile and a half above its junction, and about half a mile above the junction of the No. 2 Branch. This was called "Goss Run No. 3 Branch." It is about a mile in length, and was built to enable Harned, Jacobs & Company to open another colliery on the Hagerty estate, which they called "Pacific." This mine commenced to ship June 3, 1881, and its present daily production is about 1,200 tons; David Allgood, superintendent.

On November 16, 1882, another colliery was opened by the same company at the head of this branch, and on the same estate, which they named "Pacific No. 2." This colliery has a capacity of 1,000 tons daily, and was transferred to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, with the other mines mentioned before. Edward Lloyd is superintendent of No. 2. This makes three large collieries mining coal from this estate, viz: "Atlantic" and "Pacific" Nos. 1 and 2. The company has also opened another mine on the western side of these lands, which they have named Atlantic No. 2." This colliery commenced shipping this present year. The mine is fitted with air compressor, hoisting engines, and other appliances to make it a first class colliery.

In the summer of 1881 Beadling Brothers effected a lease with Dr. Houtz's heirs, whereby they opened a colliery on a piece of land between Stirling and Franklin collieries, and called it "Harrison." Coal was shipped from this mine August 10, 1881. The mine is situated opposite Eureka No. 1, and south of the railroad. The coal is carried over the Moshannon Branch and Beaver Run by means of a trestle, and is dumped from the schutes and shipped over the siding of the Eureka. After operating this mine for about a year, they sold to Lang & Company, who operated it until December, 1886, when they sold to the Elizabeth Coal Company, by whom it is now operated.

The year 1881 was productive of new collieries. On August 22 of that year the Empire Coal Co. commenced to ship from their colliery "Empire," situated on the Pardee Branch. This connected with the Morrisdale Branch at Hawk Run. The coal from this mine is now being shipped over the Beech Creek Railroad, the Pardee Branch becoming a part of the Philipsburg Branch of that road.

In September, 1881, the Spring Hill mine was opened by the Leonard Coal Co. on the Derby Branch. This company also owned the "Leonard" on the same branch. The Leonard was opened some time before and was worked by John Ashcroft. The combined production of these collieries will average 500 tons daily.

Another mine was opened by R. H. Chipman & Co. during the year 1881, at Coal Run Junction with the Moshannon Branch, which was called "Coaldale." The territory upon which this mine was operated was small and the coal was soon exhausted, consequently the mine is now abandoned.

At the head of the No. 1 Mapleton Branch in September, 1881, Mitchell & Keller commenced to ship from their Columbia mine. At the beginning this mine gave its proprietors much trouble, and local prophets predicted a failure. In December, 1881, Mitchell bought out Mr. Keller, and worked the mine alone. His faith in the property was justified in a short time, for the objections were overcome, and the Columbia is now a good producer. Its average capacity is 700 tons daily.

Griffiths, Neil & Co. opened up Victor No. 1 on the Derby Branch during 1881. This mine was sold to the Victor Coal Company some time in the year 1883, and is now capable of producing 500 tons daily. The same company opened up Victor No. 2 and 3, on the Crowell Run Branch, in 1883, and are able to ship about 1,500 tons daily. John Walton is their superintendent.

In August, 1881, Jones, Mull & Co. opened a colliery on the Pardee Branch, which they called "Hawk Run." This mine is not a very extensive operation, and now ships its coal over the Beech Creek Road.

During the year 1880 the Moshannon Land and Lumber Company, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, combined to grade a branch road up the Moshannon creek to reach their lands on Whiteside Run and beyond. This road joins the Moshannon Branch Road a mile above Osceola Mills, and at the present time is six and a half miles long, with a branch two miles above its junction leading to the Central and Leskie collieries, a mile long. The Leskie colliery was opened for shipments September 26, 1881, but was sold to R. H. Powell & Co. immediatly afterwards, and by them renamed "Stirling No. 3." This colliery, with the Central, are in Centre county. The Stirling is not working at present.

The "Central" was opened by the Mears Brothers in 1883, and by them called "Rush." They did not work it more than a year, when, getting into trouble, they were sold out. The colliery then passed into the hands of T. C. Heims, of Osceola Mills, who gave it its present name, and by whom it is now worked. Its capacity is about 300 tons per day; superintendent, W. R. Edwards.

The "Glenwood" colliery, situated on the Derby Branch, was also opened in 1881, by R. C. Colburn. He sold the mine soon afterwards to George F. Huff & Co., and they to Williams & Morris, by whom it is now worked. Its capacity is about 600 tons daily, and its coal is well and favorably known in the market.

"Lancashire No. 1," also situated on the Derby Branch (this branch is also known as the Campbell), was opened for business during the year 1881, by Thomas Barnes & Brother, and during the following year they opened "Lancashire No. 2," on the Crowel Run Branch. Both these collieries are now being worked by Campbell, Tucker & Co., and are able to produce 1,000 tons per day. The Barnes Brothers are working the "Baltic," a mine opened during 1885, whose capacity is 400 tons per day.

The "Colorado" was another mine opened in 1881, by A. & W. H. Barlow, on the Derby Branch. They operated it until some time in 1883, when their rights were transferred to Hoyt & Jackman, by whom it is still operated. Its daily capacity is about 400 tons; Thomas Pilkington, superintendent.

During the year 1882 the branch up the Moshannon Creek, and known as the Moshannon Extension, was graded to its present terminus, but the rails were not laid upon it until the spring of 1883. A road was also projected and commenced, during 1882, up Coal Run, following the old Decatur Branch. This road was also completed in the early part of 1883, and other collieries were opened upon it.

The first of these was a mine called the "Ashland," which was opened upon the lands of Wallace & Reading, at the head of Coal Run, by a party of Schuylkill county capitalists, prominent among whom was the late State senator, J. P. Colihan. The company did not succeed very well, and the colliery reverted to the land owners, by whom it was leased, in 1885, to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, and who operate it at present.

The next opening on this branch was made by Holt, Lewis & Co., who opened the old "Decatur" of 1866 fame, which they renamed the "Artic," and its name is appropriate, as it soon froze out its new owners, and the mine is again deserted.

The Crowel Run, or Mapleton No. 2, Branch was also completed during the latter part of 1882, and J. A. Losie opened his "Keystone" mine on this road. He did not have very good success, however, and in 1885 he sold the plant to Graham & Passmore. The mine is now abandoned.

H. J. Smith opened a mine on this branch during the year 1882, and commenced shipping coal during 1883, which mine he called "Logan Ridge." This is north of Logan mine, but in the same hill. Its capacity now is about 400 tons daily.

The Atalanta Coal Company also opened its Atalanta collieries Nos. 1 and 2, on Crowel Run, in November, 1882. These collieries have a cpacity of about 700 tons daily, and their coals compare favorably with any other in the market. Charles Welch is the superintendent.

In March, 1882, D. D. Dodge & Co. opened a mine on the main line near Steiner's Station, which they called "Hudson." This mine the Dodge & Co. sold to the Atalanta Coal Company, by whom it is now operated under the name of "Atalanta No. 3." Its capacity is 400 tons daily.

Berwind, White & Co. opened up a colliery, and commenced to ship coal in March, 1882, which they called "Eureka No. 3." This colliery was located on lands of the Kittanning Coal Company, two miles above Osceola Mills. It was originally opened by T. C. Heims, W. A. Crist, and Peter Cameron, sr., and called "Bonanza." They never operated it, however, but sold it before ready to ship.

The Pardee Branch was also extended northward during 1882, and Duncan, Lingle & Co. opened up the "Pardee," which commenced shipping March, 1882. This mine is still in operation, and is looked upon as a very successful colliery, though it met some very serious faults in its infancy. Mr. Lingle, one of its owners, died in March, 1886, but the firm name remains unchanged. W. C. Lingle is the superintendent. Its production is now being shipped over the Beech Creek Railroad.

In November, 1882, Holt, Schoonover & Co. opened up a mine at the head of this branch (the Pardee), which was named the "Allport." They soon after sold to Holt, Chipman & Co., and the colliery was renamed the "Coaldale No. 3." It is an extensive opening, its coal being shipped over the Beech Creek road. W. H. Blackburn, superintendent. The proprietors have introduced rope haulage in this mine, and have thus more than doubled its capacity. Holt, Chipman & Co. have other mines shipping coal over the Beech Creek, called "Coaldale No. 3," and "Coaldale No. 4" on the Mapleton No. 2 Branch, shipping over the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad, which they opened in the latter part of 1884.

In the fall of 1882 a company was formed in Houtzdale, called the Houtzdale Coal Company, consisting of Charles and Theodore Van Dusen, W. A. Chase, and J. C. Scott & Sons, for the purpose of mining coal. They leased from the Houtz heirs a tract of land that had previously been condemned, and proceeded to sink a slope therein, the coal being found under water-level at that point. On February 23, 1883, all things being ready, they made their first shipment. This colliery lies in the borough of Houtzdale, about half a mile from the Moshannon Branch, and a spur was built to enable the colliery to ship. James Mines was the superintendent, who also owned an interest in the company. This mine was sold to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, July, 1886, and by them named "Eureka N. 10." Its present capacity is about 1,000 tons per day.

In the spring of 1883 John Wilkinson reopened old Moshannon mine, three miles above Osceola Mills, on the Moshannon Branch, and commenced to ship about two cars per day from it. This mine he renamed "Sobieski." In 1885 he opened the "F Bed," over the old Beaverton mine, and named this mine "Sobieski No. 2." The capacity of both will equal 200 tons daily.

In May, 1883, Berwind, White & Co. commenced to ship coal from two mines they had opened at the head of the Moshannon extension, two miles south of Houtzdale. These mines they had named "Eureka No. 4" and "5." No 4 was a drift opening, and having only a limited territory it is now worked out. No. 5 was opened by a slope and is a very extensive mine, though not very valuable. The company, in 1884, opened another mine half a mile further west, which they called "Eureka No. 6," and are now engaged in opening another one still further west a half mile, and which is called "Eureka No. 8." The mines have an extensive territory and will make large collieries. William Pollock is superintendent of No. 5 and John Allen is superintendent of Nos. 6 and 8.

On August 17, 1883, John Maurice successfully opened a colliery in the abandoned territory of the old Eureka No. 1, which he called "Mount Vernon." This colliery was situated on the Goss Run No. 2 Branch, about one-fourth of a mile above its junction. Mr. Maurice soon sold an interest to the Elizabeth Coal Company, and by them the mine was renamed "Elizabeth." Its schutes were burned down in May, 1884, on the occasion of the Brisbin fire, but they were soon rebuilt, and the mine is still working, but will not last much longer, as its territory is limited.

During the year 1883 the Mapleton No. 1 Branch was extended two miles to enable T. C. Heims to ship from his new opening on the Drane farm, and which he had called "Drane." This mine was situate on the old Goss lands, and coal was taken from them some fifty years ago and hauled in wagons over the mountain to Spruce Creek. The Drane commenced to ship November 8, 1883, and its present capacity is 500 tons per day. It is situate about two miles north of the town of Osceola Mills.

Reakirt Bros. & Co. (transcribers note: see earlier reference to Rickert Brothers & Co., possible misprint here) opened, during 1884, a mine north of, and in the same hill as their Penn, on the lands of the Houtz heirs. This mine was situate on Goss Run Branch No. 3, about half a mile above Brisbin, and was called "Loraine." Its present capacity is about 400 tons daily, and the coal is equal to the "Penn" coals; George Gould, superintendent.

The Coal Run Branch was extended, in the summer of 1884, from the Ashland mine, some two miles west and on October 9th of that year, Harned, Jacobs & Co. opened "Ocean No. 3." This mine was formerly called "Newcastle," and its coal was hauled through the hill, under ground, to Ocean No. 1 tipple, and there shipped as coal from No. 1, but on the day mentioned it entered a separate existence. This mine followed the others of Harned, Jacobs & Co., and was sold to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, in 1885, and Harned, Jacobs & Co. ceased to exist as a coal firm.

Fisher & Miller also opened a mine on this branch in October, 1884, which they called "Excelsior No. 2." This mine worked the same tract as Excelsior No. 1 and Eureka No. 2. Its present capacity is about 500 tons daily.

During the year 1882 Messrs. R. B. Wigton & Sons purchased from Aaron and Frederick Schoff, Boaz Alexander, and Bigler Dunlap, an extensive tract of land just west of Amesville, Bigler township, and in 1885 they proceeded to open a colliery upon it which they called "Vulcan." This caused the Moshannon Branch Railroad to be extended two miles to reach the mine, and coal was shipped over the Vulcan Branch in the fall of that year. This mine is quite an extensive one, and its present capacity will equal 700 tons daily.

The Messrs. Wigton also opened a new mine on the Beech Creek Road in 1885, and named it "Rothrock." This colliery is on the Hawk Run Branch, and is fitted up with coal cutting machines, a Norwalk air compressor, and every appliance for the mining of coal quickly and cheaply.

During the year 1884 R. H. Powell & Co. erected a powerful air compressor at their Stirling No. 1 mine, and placed three coal cutting machines in their No. 2 opening. These have been very successful. They had formerly hauled their coal out of this opening with a locomotive, but in 1885 they placed a pair of stationary engines at the drift mouth, and hauled the coal with a wire rope. This was a very great improvement, and largely increased the capacity of the colliery.

The Beech Creek Railroad was finished to Peale in July, 1884, and 114,151 tons were shipped from the "Grass Flat" mines, located in and around that place during the year. The road was finished to Gazzam July, 1885, and that point commenced to add its quota to the general production. The Philipsburg Branch was completed February, 1885.

In the year 1885 the Karthaus mines of John Whitehead & Co. commenced to ship over the Clearfield and Susquehanna Railroad. This road joins the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad at Keating, thirteen miles above Renovo. This mine was also transferred to the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, November 15.

The Three Runs Mine, or "Cataract" was opened in the spring of 1885 by Berwind, White & Co. on the same railroad, six miles lower down the river than Karthaus, on the lands of Weaver & Betts, and is now a very large colliery.

In Jun, 1885, the Excelsior No. 3 colliery was opened on the Moshannon Branch, about a half mile below Ramey by Fisher, Miller & Co. This mine is a "slope," and is without exception the most completely equipped colliery in the region. Its superintendent is Thomas Richards. The vein is pinched and at places not over two feet in thickness. At the present time they are opening another mine on the north side of the tract, where the coal is of normal thickness. This coal reaches the market over an extension of the Vulcan Branch. The mine is known as Excelsior No. 4.

In the spring of 1886 the Clearfield Consolidated Coal Company leased a tract of land north of the Moshannon Creek, and south of the old Beaverton mine, owned by the Kittanning Coal Company, and opened two mines on it, which they called "Mount Vernon No. 1" and "2." The capacity of the mines amounts to 300 tons per day, and the coal is shipped over the Moshannon Extension Branch.

John Maurice also opened a mine on lands of the Houtz heirs, and commenced to ship in the spring of 1886. He called his mine "Ferndale." It is situated on the Goss Run No. 2 Branch, about a quarter of a mile below Eureka No. 2, and its capacity is 100 tons daily. Mr. Maurice is now opening a mine on the Beech Creek Road, below Gazzam, from which he is now shipping coal.

In the fall of 1886 Reece & Long opened a colliery near the main line, a mile below Philipsburg, and called it "Glenwood No. 2." This is a new operation, but its projectors expect it to make its mark before long.

In 1885 J. C. Scott & Sons and James Mines withdrew from the Houtzdale Coal Company, and formed a partnership among themselves under the name of James Mines & Co. They procured a lease on some lands at Ramey, and proceeded to open a colliery, which they called "Webster No. 4." This mine is now at work, and its outfit is very satisfactory to is owners. James Mines is its superintendent.

There are a few local "banks" shipping a car or two now and then to market, prominent among them is the "Esteps" at Osceola Mills, but with this exception it is believed that every mine within the region has been reviewed, a total of over eighty.

It is possible, however, that some of the small producing mines may have been omitted; some that are still in their infancy and just preparing to ship; others that are owned by individuals who ship occasionally and produce an amount so inconsiderable that no record has ever been made concerning them.

A statement of the tonnage from the year 1862 to the year 1886, inclusive, will be found of interest as showing the comparative growth of this most valuable industry in this wonderful coal-producing region:

1862, 7,239 tons; 1863, 24,330; 1864, 65,380; 1866, 107,878; 1867, 169,219, 1868, 171,238; 1869, 259,994; 1870, 379,863; 1871, 542,896; 1872, 644,246; 1873, 592,860; 1874, 654,251; 1875, 926,834; 1876, 1,218,789; 1877, 1,374,927; 1878, 1,298,452; 1879, 1,622,976; 1880, 1,739,872; 1881, 2,401,987; 1882, 2,838,970; 1883, 2,866,174; 1884, 3,287,514; 1885, 3,663,466; 1886, 3,331,020; a grand total of 30,251,004 tons.

This is not the total production of all mines in the region. It represents only the amount that was passed over the Tyrone and Beech Creek scales. The amount used in the county for locomotives, stationary engines, household purposes, fire brick manufacturers, etc., will amount to 200,000 per annum; nor does it represent the amount shipped over the Low Grade Division of the Allegheny Valley Railroad from Du Bois and vicinity, or the amount shipped by the Bell's Gap Railroad, nor over the Keating scales.

The region, however, is only in its infancy, and twenty years from now, it would not be a surprising fact, that shipment of 10,000,000 tons per annum will be reached, judging from the improvements now being made. The Moshannon Branch Railroad has been opened nine miles further west to Knox township, and openings have been made, and schutes erected on the lands of William A. Wallace, on Pine Run, and in a short time this new field will add its out-put of both coal and coke to the general result.


Source: Pages 215-232, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.

Transcribed April, 1999 by Karen J Rudolph for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (

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