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LONACONING, MD

Lonaconing, called "Coney" by locals, is in the heart of the Georges Creek valley. Part of the town contained company-owned structures, and other sections were independent. There are several styles of houses present, probably because various coal companies built them at different times. Industrial development in Lonaconing was initiated by the Georges Creek Coal and Iron Co. out of Baltimore, MD. Lonaconing was originally more than a coal town. Yes, coal was mined, but iron manufacturing and casting was part of the operations, too. After the 1850's coal mining became the only industry, which waxed and waned over the years. One Lonaconing resident shared a memory with me of times so hard that poverty-stricken mining families snuck on the back end of the coal company's property and planted a garden patch "just to get by." Another coal mine at Lonaconing, the Shamrock mine, was operated by the Lonaconing Coal Co. in the early 1900's.


The iron furnace at Lonaconing was built from locally quarried sandstone. When it was first fired by the Georges Creek Coal & Iron Company in 1839 it marked the first successful manufacture of iron from coke in the USA. Where are the coke ovens? Perhaps there were no ovens, and the coke was made in mounds called "ricks." Anyhow, the Lonaconing Furnace, which was also the first iron furnace in America to use steam engine-powered hot blast, produced iron off and on until 1856. Later this furnace was abused when used as a garbage incinerator, but has been nicely restored in a small park-like setting. (July 2003 image by author)

Iron furnaces were used with greater success at another town in the northern section of the Georges Creek Field - Mount Savage.


A very old board-and-batten miner's home in Lonaconing, notable for its authenticity. It could date as far back as the 1840s. (July 2003 image by author)


I was told that these two family houses in Lonaconing were also built by the coal company, but probably at a later date than the house pictured above. (July 2003 image by author)


This section of Lonaconing was known as Rockville Row. These houses were believed to have been built by the coal company in the mid-1800's. (July 2003 image by author)


The red brick building was the Georges Creek Coal and Iron Co. office. (Google Street View image)


Buffalo Coal Company has a long history of mining coal in the area. Here is their No. 5 mine at Lonaconing. (July 2003 image by author)


Conveyors and stockpiles of high-quality bituminous coal at the Buffalo Coal Co. Mine No. 5 facility on the edge of Lonaconing. This is basically a material handling plant because strip coal doesn't need much processing. (July 2003 image by author)


Hidden away in the Buffalo Coal Co. Mine No. 5 plant is what looks like a remnant of an earlier coal mine. (July 2003 image by author)


The old Buffalo No. 5 tipple, which has been rebuilt since this photo was taken. (1987 image by Don Biggs via Western Maryland Railway)

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