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SMOCK, PA

Most coalfields historians would feel that development in the Klondike Coalfield began around 1900, or certainly no earlier than the 1893 development of Star Junction. However, coal mining at Smock dates back to the 1880's, when it was developed by J. D. Boyd & Company, with an adjacent operation started by Colonial Coal & Coke Co. around the same time. They even erected a few patch houses, though they are probably all dismantled now. By the early 1900's, Pittsburgh Coal Co. was operating nearby, Hurst Coal and Coke Co. ran the Hurst Mine near Smock, and the Colonial Coke Co. had constructed coke ovens at Smock. In 1904 there were 419 employees at Colonial No. 1 mine and coke works, and 108 employees at Colonial No. 2. Soon Pittsburgh Coal bought the Colonial Mine, renamed Colonial No. 1, and added a Colonial No. 2 Mine at Smock. Nearby Rowes Run became Colonial No. 3, and Grindstone was Colonial No. 4. All of these properties were acquired and consolidated by the mighty H.C. Frick Coke Co. in 1911. Many of these mine workings were mined-out by then, but Frick still robbed the pillars in some retreat mining.

After 1924, the coal from Colonial No. 1,2,3 and 4 was transported by a strategically-located, miles-long underground conveyor system, named the Colonial Beltline, to a portal on the Monongahela River. At this portal a barge-loading river tipple was built and named Colonial Dock. The coal from the Colonial mines was then loaded into barges and floated down the river to U.S. Steel's giant Clairton coke plant. Later the belt line was extended as far into Fayette County as Leisenring, and a similar "Palmer Beltline" was constructed to capture the stream of coal coming from Frick mines in the southern part of the Klondike Coalfield.

The Colonial No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 mines eventually merged together underground, and were closed in 1954. However, the mines, as entered from Colonial No. 3, did repoen for a few years from 1959 until 1961.


These coal company houses are similar to the ones that Frick constructed at the nearby Rowes Run patch, and reflect a more enlightened philosophy of building "model" coal towns. The homes were built in 1922, and probably replaced earlier, more conventional, patch houses. (Google Street View image)


Former company store in the background, and to the right is the "Honor Roll" that is so ubiquitous in the Western Pennsylvania patch towns. (Google Street View image)


This was once the bath house for the Colonial No. 1 mine. (Jul. 2013 image courtesy of Kris Rossmiller)


Former coal company office building. (Jul. 2013 image courtesy of Kris Rossmiller)


Kris also took this photo of a door to an underground room at Smock. (Jul. 2013 image courtesy of Kris Rossmiller)


Inside the mysterious underground room, which may have been for powder/dynamite storage. (Jul. 2013 image courtesy of Kris Rossmiller)


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