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Clearfield County

 

Clearfield County Pennsylvania

Present and Past

 

by

Thomas Lincoln Wall

 

Chapter 13

 

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Clearfield County Pennsylvania

Present and Past

 

by

Thomas Lincoln Wall

Ex-Supervising Principal

Boggs Township Schools

 

Library Edition

Published by Author

 

Copyright 1925

by

T. L. Wall

 


 

Transcribed for the Clearfield County PAGenWeb Project by

Ellis Michaels

 

 Chapter 13

Pages

200

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CLEARFIELD COUNTY - PRESENT AND PAST


CHAPTER XIII


Mining


     The mining industry in Clearfield county is confined almost entirely to coal and fire clay.


     Effects of World War. The World War gave a great "boom" to this business and many new mines were opened and old and new equipped with electricity and other improvements that vastly increased the output. The immediate cause of this activity was the enormous demand for coal to supply the increase in all manufacturing industries, including the production of iron and steel.


     The price for coal went up by leaps and bounds, the price for mining increased also and the demand for sidings and other loading facilities and for cars almost swamped the railroads. There came a time when the demand was so insistent that almost anything that was black was loaded on cars and shipped until the Government had to take the matter in hand, inspect all coal and condemn that which was unfit for fuel. Fortunes were made and some lost in handling coal, and miners of coal and clay made more than they had ever made in their lives.


     The after effects have been that since the end of the war when demand has fallen off, many of the mines that- were opened in such great numbers, have had to shut down, and others to curtail their operations.


     The price of coal having fallen, operators claim they cannot run their mines on the wage scale formerly paid, while the miners Union are loath to have the price of mining

 

 

 

 

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lowered. So the coal mining business is now not very active.


     The First Mining of Coal. Coal was known to exist in Clearfield county at a very early date, the first use of it probably being for blacksmithing.


     The first "ark" made by Fred Haney and run and stoved by Jacob Haney at the rocky bend below Clearfield, was said to have been loaded with coal. Quite a number of these "arks" loaded with coal mined near the river, were run to market in the early days, but it was a somewhat risky trip and at that time the value of coal was not fully appreciated, charcoal having been the fuel used for melting or softening iron from the earliest times, and "stone coal" as it was called was considered not so good.


     Coal from the Moshannon vein is said to have been mined on the Goss farm in Decatur township as early as 1830 and wagoned to Spruce Creek.


     "The Darby mine three-fourth mile west of Philipsburg was opened in 1860 and the coal hauled to Philipsburg and sold for local use." This same mine is claimed to have been the first in Clearfield county from which coal was shipped over the railroad, in 1864. The Cuba mine near by, was also an early one from which coal was loaded on cars.


     Coal Brought the Railroads. As coal came into greater use, the necessity for its transportation to market became so great that railroads became a necessity, and the building of railroads stimulated coal mining, so the industry grew by leaps and bounds and mining towns such as Osceola, Houtz- dale, Brisbin, Ramey, Madera, Morrisdale and others sprang up in the coal region. Later coal was mined in other fields and the business helped to build up Coalport, Berwindale, Mahaffey, McGees, Helvetia and the City of DuBois.


     Methods of Mining. Formerly all coal was mined by hand, with a pick. The miner's light was a torch or grease lamp; lard oil was considered the best for light for many years.

 

 

 

 

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Now a carbide lamp is used where electricity is not available. It was found that powder could be used to save much hard labor with a pick. Now many collieries have mining machines run by electric power, which do the work of many men. Most of the mining is done in "drifts" which are nearly level galleries extending into the hills.


     Others are "slopes" extending at a slant downward into the earth until the seam of coal is reached when the gallery follows the coal vein.


     Then there is the "shaft", extending straight down into the earth to the coal vein which is then followed and worked.


     The "drift" form of mine, generally though not always, drains itself, while the "slope" or "shaft" mine must have the water kept out by pumps running continuously.


     Fire Clay Mining. Fire clay mining was also stimulated by the World War, but on account of the limited extent of deposits of hard clay, the expansion of mining was not so great. Owing to the hardness of clay, it has to be mined in a somewhat different manner from coal, much explosive being used. Then the beds of clay are more uneven in thickness and consistency, so that within a few rods, the thickness of the vein as well as the character of the clay may vary a great deal. The general methods of mining and removing fire clay are very much the same as of coal, with the exceptions noted. Fire clay is usually mined from a "drift". Soft fire clay was used to make pottery in the old "Pot Shops."


     The best beds of fire clay, especially of the hard clay, have been found in the southern and eastern parts of the county, mainly in Decatur, Boggs, Bradford, Lawrence, Pike and Penn townships Fire clay veins are usually thicker than the coal veins are in Clearfield county.


     The Coal and Iron Police. Captain T. E. Clark having been commissioned by Governor Geary as captain of Coal and Iron Police and having organized a force in Philadelphia,

 

 

 

 

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came to Clearfield county to do police duty during the miners' strike of 1872-3. He was located at Houtzdale, where the miners, at that time Irish, Welch, Scotch and English, he says, were ruled by the "Molly McGuires" with an iron hand. Everyone else in the community seems to have been terrorized by this organization.


     Captain Clark came January 1, 1873, and started the first colliery at Moshannon in February after it had stood idle for three months, by bringing in a carload of native coal miners. Forty of them were brought in a box car at twelve o'clock at night.


     By ten o'clock next day they began to send coal out of the mine


     When the "Big Wheel", the local miners' organization, found that coal was being and would be mined, they held a meeting and voted the strike off. After that thousands of men came and applied for work.


     At that time there were but six mines in the Clearfield region. Now there are more than a hundred, and a majority of the miners of later times have been non-English speaking foreigners.


     When the Goss Run Mine. was opened in 1875, and the men quit work, strike breakers were brought in, but 1000 men from among the miners came and marched the strike breakers out of the county and over to the Summit Thirty or more of these miners were afterwards arrested and brought to jail at Clearfield, but on account of the Osceola fire were released on small bail so that they could go home and look after their families and property. Later they came back to court and stood trial, 30 being convicted under a new law.


     Xingo Parks, a strike organizer, was sent to the penitentiary for a year, but pardoned within a month.


     Captain Clark, who is in his 84th year, took part in the breaking of seven or eight miners' strikes up to 1906, when he retired.

 

 

 

   

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