APPALACHIAN COALFIELDS HOME
Aerial view of the Vestaburg coal company town on one side of the Monongahela River and the remains of the Labelle Preparation Plant on the other side of the river, with the conveyor crossing the river between the two. (Image courtesy of Microsoft Virtual Earth)
Vesta Coal Company's preparation plant in Luzerne Township, Fayette County, with the Vestaburg patch in the background, across the Monongahela River in Washington County. Part of the plant has been demolished. Much of what remains is actually the blending bins. The trans-river conveyor that brought the coal from Washington County is at the far left.
In 1950 J&L Steel built the Labelle Prep Plant on the Fayette County side of the Monongahela River to process coal from their Vesta Mines on the Washington County side of the river. After the Vesta No. 4 and 5 mine were mined out in the 1970s, the Labelle Prep Plant continued in operation under different managements, such as A.T. Massey. In the mid-1990s the Pennylvania D.E.P. acquired 50% of the stock of Labelle Processing. The plant has of late been used by Castradale Coal Co. and it's future looks uncertain.
Rusty barges sitting in the river in front of the plant. The Fredericktown ferry provided access to the plant for employees living on the Washington side of the river.
The headhouse of the refuse conveyor at the top of the hill. The slate dump is on the Fayette County side of the river.
There are several types of housing in the Vestaburg patch, including these duplexes.
This style of house is the most numerous in the coal mining village.
Another kind of patch house at Vestaburg is this four room variety
Also, theses one story company-built cottages are the smallest type of residential structure in the patch.
A resident of Vestaburg identified this building as the company store.
About this building Matt writes, " The building, which is now home to Rudy Fabricating & Machine, was in fact the Vesta 5 machine shop. The reasons I know this is because 1. my uncle owns the facility, 2. He worked there as well as my grandfather who is still alive, and 3. my grandfather's old classrooms and tool room is still in the upstairs of the building. When my uncle, Bob Rudy acquired the facility about 9 or 10 years ago, I still worked for him and learned the entire history of the facility. At one point, there was a second building the same size next to it, but it has been gone for years. There was also a motorbarn up on the hill behind the building as well as a mine entrance. The second building was the locomotive shop for mine car and mine locomotive repairs among other things. The remaining building is absolutely massive, built around 1902, 90'x210' with a full basement, three overhead cranes, and a poured concrete roof! At one time, it was the largest shop of its kind in the world, which proportions it to the rest of the Vesta Coal system back then." Thanks Matt.
In April 2009 the remaining structures from the Labelle prep plant were being demolished. Visible at the end of the conveyor is the crusher station. The trans-river conveyor was supposed to come down three weeks after I took this photo. The Vestaburg patch in the background will remain, of course.
The following pictures were taken by Tom Strong:
Remains of the prep plant being demolished.
Conveyor bridge over Mon River.
Piers of conveyor bridge.
Where the conveyor comes out of the old Vesta No. 5 mine. Note cables from conveyor bridge anchored into the mountain side.
Quonset hut used as a shop building.
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