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VINTONDALE, PA

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Sep. 2003 image by author

Company-built houses along the road coming down the mountain into Vintondale. This patch town was built in 1892 by the Vinton Colliery Company. The name was going to be Barker City when it was laid out by the Blacklick Land Improvement Company, but it was changed to Vintondale. It was one of the few patches in the Black Lick Field to have beehive coke ovens . There were 152 of them. Also, there was a longwall miner in use at the Vintondale mines at the incredibly early date of the 1910s.


Sep. 2003 image by author

Foundations of the machine shop are some of the very few remnants of the coal mining complex at Vintondale, shown here in the middle of the Vintondale AMD (Acid Mine Drainage) Park. How many other coal towns have their own Acid Mine Drainage parks?


Sep. 2003 image by author

These cut stone walls lined the entry to the Mine No. 3 portal. As many as 590 miners worked at Vintondale during World War I. In 1940 the Vinton Colliery Company reorganized into Vinton Coal and Coke Company.


Sep. 2003 image by author

This huge refuse pile was interesting and fun to walk across. It appears that the coal company stopped just short of burying Black Lick Creek. But you should not walk across hazardous refuse piles unless you are an experienced refuse pile climber because they could be honeycombed in the middle from gob fires. No interesting fossils were found on the Vintondale slate dump.


Sep. 2003 image by author

Patch houses on 4th Street. Mining at Vintondale ended in 1968. However there was an active strip mine on the mountain above Vintondale when I visited it in 2003.


Sep. 2003 image by author

The Eliza furnace on the edge of Vintondale was built in 1845 and only operated for a few years. The ironmaking operation was too early to use the coal mined on Black Lick Creek. This furnace used charcoal. By the time coal mining began in the area circa 1990, the furnace had been cold for four decades.


Nov. 2006 image by "Dazzled" via Flickr

Coal mining ruins at Vintondale. The photographer identified it as "coke oven remains." This was probably one of Lackawanna Steel Company's eight experimental coke ovens.


An anonymous American reader writes, "My great-grandfather immigrated from the coal mines of Northern Wales to the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania in the 1880's. He started working in Lovedale, near Elizabeth, PA, then moved up to Coalglen, PA in Jefferson County. Lastly he worked as a mine Superintendent in Vintondale, Pennsylvania. His illustrious and hardworking life bore he and his wife 13 children. One of his daughters corresponded with a cousin back in Wales and sent postcards of the Vintondale mines circa 1906. I met (online) the descendant of this British cousin, who in turn emailed me scanned photos of these postcards. They are truly a glimpse of a place and time that no longer exist."

The British cousin that he found online writes, "My name is Michelle I am from Shropshire, England, and it is my family who have shared the old postcards of Vintondale with you. My Grandmother Gwen kept these things even though she had no idea who the author of the postcard was,or what connection she and her family had with Pennsylvania. Unfortunately I lost my Grandmother Gwen in 2019 who I adored so much and in her name I decided to find out about her family. It was in November 2020 during lockdown that I found my cousin in Pennsylvania on a genealogy website and we realised what our connection was. These postcards were taken from my Grandmothers box of treasures and are now out on the world wide web for everybody to see. and she honestly would never believe it.

She was Gwen Edwards nee Thomas, A dedicated nurse during World War 2, from Shropshire, England, died 21st July 2019, and these postcards are given in memory of a dearly loved and very much missed Nan and Mother."


Gwen Edwards

Here are the postcards of Vintondale:


"Washery at #6 mine where they wash the coal."


"Power house, washery and tipple #6 mine."


"Steel tipple at #1 mine where Papa works."


"Coal co. mine office."


"This is our depot. What do you think of it?"


"Part of our Main Street. X is Post Office."


Paulette writes, "I was surprised to find your web site about coal fields. I was even more surprised to see a page on Vintondale. Such an obscure, nowhere place and here it is on the internet! I was born and raised there....in 1947, so I came in when things were coming to an end. I lived in a town that I didn't even know had once had an undertaker or so many stores. I had no idea that so many people had filled that town at one time. My father told us many stories from how he walked home in wet and frozen clothes to how he got cheated in the number of cars he loaded. He started in the mines at age 15 in Nanty-Glo and they moved to Vintondale in 1927. He helped to establish the union in Vintondale and was the president of Local 620 at one time, something he was proud of, I think. When he was old he said he never dreamed in his youth that life would be so good for him in old age, meaning the pension he got and black lung benefits."


Sources:

Fitzsimons, Gray, editor. Blair County and Cambria County, Pennsylvania; An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites. 1990.


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