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PA-Roots

…bringing our past into the future

Windber, Somerset County

Byadmin

Mar 28, 2015

Windber was laid out by the Wilmore Coal Company in 1897 for the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company and was named for the financier of the company, Charles F. Berwind. The town was to accommodate the large number of miners and their families. The Eureka Supply Company opened the first store in the town in 1897.

Operating on a large scale, within a few years the company opened a number of mines. These mines were known as the Eureka Mines and numbered from 30 to 42. Equipped with the most modern electrical machinery, for several years they produced more coal than all the other mines in Somerset County combined.

When the citizens of the northern part of Paint Township wished to incorporate their town into a borough, they could not agree on a name. The older residents selected the same name as the township—”Paint”. The others, who were mostly strangers, selected the name “Windber”, a transcription of the name “Berwind”. Other differences entered into the matter and no agreement could be reached, so each part made a separate application to be incorporated as a borough. Both applications were granted and two separate boroughs—Paint and Windber—were incorporated in 1900. Windber, which was incorporated on July 3rd, elected Herrick Thomas as its first burgess of the borough.

Windber was considered as one of the busiest and best mining towns in the bituminous coal fields, but coal production gradually declined as several of the mines were worked out and abandoned. In 1920 there were 9,462 people in the borough. By 1930, that number had fallen to 9,205, but it was still the largest borough in the county. Almost every nationality found in Europe was represented here.

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