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INDIAN CREEK COALFIELD

The Indian Creek Coalfield (sometimes called the Indian Valley Coalfield) is a small coalfield situated in Saltlick, Springfield, and Stewart Townships in Fayette County, and Donegal Township in Westmoreland County. It was a medium volatile field focused on extraction of the Lower Kittanning seam, which averages 44 inches in thickness there; and also the Uppe Kittanning and Lower Freeport coal seams. The railroads that took the coal from Indian Creek include the Indian Creek Valley Railroad (started in 1906 and abandoned in 1976), the Blair Brothers Railroad in Donegal Twp., and, of course, the Baltimore and Ohio running along the Youghiogheny River. Coal mining in the Indian Creek Field is now relegated to the occasional strip mine.

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The "Bosses Row" at the Melcroft patch. Melcroft was coal mine originally operated by the Melcroft Coal Company. Their Melcroft No. 1 mine was in a section of Lower Kittanning averaging 43" in thickness. (Dec. 2003 image by author)


Another part of Melcroft. This patch town differs from most others in that different shapes and styles of residential structures were constructed. There are one story houses further up Champion Creek from these. (Dec. 2003 image by author)

Gary Weslager writes, "In Melcroft (on the Indian Creek side) there is a house where the company doctor lived. It has a lead lined room where the x-ray machine was located. I believe this is still in existence, today."


Ruins of the Melcroft mine and tipple. By the 1940s the Melcroft mine was being operated by the Koppers Coal Division as Indian Creek No. 4 Mine. Later Eastern Associated Fuel had absorbed Koppers' coal mines in Pennsylvania and West Virgina, and they were probably the final owners. (Dec. 2003 image by author)


Most of the remnants of the Melcroft mines have been reclaimed. This small structure, which was perhaps a pump house, is a distance up Champion Creek from the main mine site, still exists. (Dec. 2003 image by author)


Vintage photo of the Melcroft company store. (Image from an Eastern Fuel & Gas employee magazine)


This is a neighboring patch of Melcroft that probably belonged to Romney Coal Company's Little Squaw Mine. (Dec. 2003 image by author)


This slate dump is one of the last vestiges of Indian Creek Coal and Coke Company's coal mining operations in the Indian Head area. It was probably from their Kuhns Mine. (Dec. 2003 image by author)


Here is part of the (former) coal mining village of Indian Head, Pa., where that company operated the Sparks Mine. The Puro Mine of the Red Top Coal Co. was also at Indian Head. Gary Weslager emailed me to say, "in your photo of ‘downtown’ Indian Head, the houses on the left (north side) of Indian Head Road were saw mill houses. The houses on the right and what is known as back row were coal company houses." (Dec. 2003 image by author)


A small coal refuse pile and a railroad right-of-way are all that's left to mark the spot of White Brige No. 1, a coal mine near Normalville that was active during the 1940s. (Dec. 2003 image by author)


Here are the only remnants of the structures relating to the White Bridge No. 1 mine. (Dec. 2003 image by author)


Acid Mine drainage from an abandoned mine in the Indian Creek Field. (Dec. 2003 image by author)


This coal company town, Sagamore, Pa., was built by the Sagamore Coal Co. for the workers of their Big Chief Mine. This is a different Sagamore than the patch town of the same name in Armstrong County. Little Squaw, Big Chief, Indian Creek ... I think there is a theme here.(Image courtesy of realcountrylife.com)


Most of the Sagamore company town is gone, but a few of these management homes remain. Also, there was once a hospital here. (Google Street View image)


Other coal mines that were in the Indian Creek Coalfield include Anderson Coal Company's Kendall Mine, the Rush Mine of Glofelty Coal Company, Nebo Coal Mining Company's Mowhawk No. 1 Mine, Edwards Coal Company's Firestone Mine, and the mines of M.K. Piper Coal Company.


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