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Is there an admission charge?

There is no admission charge to tour the Coal and Coke Heritage Center. Groups of all ages are welcome and appointments can be made for evening and Saturday visits.

Can you tell me which mines my grandfather worked in?

While the archived material at the center holds a wealth of information concerning the coal and coke industry, we do not have any individual personnel records of coal miners, coke workers or related employees. It is unfortunate that these early types of handwritten records were not saved or have not yet been found. Therefore, the center cannot field any specific questions concerning location or years of employment for an individual.

What if my family member was killed in a mine accident?

If the accident occurred before 1919, there’s a good possibility that the victim would be listed in the Pennsylvania Department of Mine Reports for the year of the mishap. These annual volumes, however, do not contain indexes, so finding the name can be painstaking if the year and name of the mine is not known. Also, be aware that miss-spellings are common and, for unknown reasons, not every miner’s name is listed.

Do you just do interviews with coal miners?

No. If you or someone you know is interested in sharing your personal story, please feel free to contact us. You might be willing to tell us about the work environment and practices in the coal or the coke industry, or growing up and living in the patch community. Maybe you worked in a related field, such as blacksmithing, working in the company store or in the medical field. You might want to share your recollections of family traditions and customs, labor strikes, or community spirit and recreation. Every new interview adds another thread to the heritage tapestry of the Connellsville Coke Region. Both men and women, age 70 and older, willing to share their stories are invited to contact Elaine DeFrank, who serves as our oral historian, by calling 724-430-4158 or ehd103@psu.edu.

What if I want to know about a particular mine?

If you have an inquiry about a particular mine, it is important that you include all the relevant information known to you. For example, if your request concerns a mine owned and operated by the H. C. Frick Coke Company, please be as specific as possible. In Fayette and Westmoreland Counties there were seventy-two Frick holdings, therefore a “Frick” mine is not adequate information. Also, please include the name of the county if known, since both counties share common place names.

How much information can you tell me about the mines and coke yards?

With information supplied from the Pennsylvania Department of Mine Reports we can usually account for the owner/operator of the mine along with statistical information on production and number of employees. We can offer the railroad that serviced the mine, and how many horses/mules were used underground. The records concerning coke production and number of coke ovens is also available. Since the majority of mines were owned by the Frick Coke Company, most of the information in our collection concerns their holdings.

Do you have pictures of all the mine sites and patches?

While we do have images of many of the mine complexes and communities, unfortunately not all are represented within our collection. Remember, the entire collection contains materials donated to us. Therefore, we only have items that people are kind enough to offer or share copies with us. And by the way, many times when photographers visited the patches they climbed the tipple to take advantage of the landscape of the village, so we might have a photo of the houses, but not the mine site.

How to purchase items in the gift shop?

To order any of the items, contact Elaine H. DeFrank at 724-430-4158 or by e-mail ehd103@psu.edu.

 

Coal Miner underground

Front of a Company Store

Mining Tipple with miners

Company houses and garden

School with students and teachers