This small coal field (approximately 66 square miles), located in the northwestern corner of Maryland, was once served by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Kendall Branch, also known as their Confluence and Oakland Branch. However, the construction of a dam and Youghiogheny Lake obliterated all of this. Mining was never as intense as other coalfields, but there were several mines, like the Rayland Mine on the edge of Friendsville; or the tiny 2 man Steele Mine, which had only natural ventilation, shot coal "off the solid," and pushed the coal cars out by hand. There was one large mine, and possibly some company housing that went with it - the McCullough Coal Corporation's McCullough Mine No. 1 - which was opened from 1915 until 1942. The McCullough Mine was in the Upper Freeport seam of coal, and the Lower Kittanning and Waynesburg seams have also been mined in the Lower Youghiogheny Coal Field. The Upper Freeport coal (~14,500 - 15,500 Btu/lb here) can be considered a metallurgical coal in this region, and the Lower Kittanning coal can be washed in a preparation plant to make a coking coal as well. Apparently, underground coal mining began in the late 1800s and lasted until the 1940s. Then strip mining became the norm, especially during the energy crises of the 1970s. After that coal mining in the Lower Youghiogheny Coalfield declined. 217,213 short tons of coal were mined in 1982.

June 2003 image by author

This revegetating land near Glade Road was strip mined, probably during the 1970s or early 1980s.

April 2018 image by author

Ruins of a concrete powder magazine from the McCullough coal mine a few miles south of Friendsville, MD. This mine, originally a much smaller mine operated by David Fike, was also called the Fike coal mine. In its original conception the mine was a small operation with 2 or 3 employees mining coal into 12 bushel coal cars and delivering it by wagon to Friendsville. Later it was operated by the larger McCullough Coal Corporation, who averaged 27,211 tons annual production between 1921 and 1933, and who closed the mine in 1942 when the B&O subsidiary Confluence and Oakland Railway Company abandoned the railroad that shipped the mine's coal to market. This caused McCullough Coal to sue the Confluence and Oakland Railroad and the United States government. At another time the mine was operated by the Penn-Garrett Coal Co.

April 2018 image by author

These houses along Route 42 may have been company houses for the McCullough Mine. I also have reason to belive that the blacksmith shop, fan house, and powder house are also still existing on private property near these homes. The McCullough Coal Company also had a company store in Friendsville. The company was named after J.W. McCullough, the owner of the company, and also Friendville's first mayor (in 1902).

Image courtesy U.S. Geological Survey

In this cross-section of the entire coalfield the Upper Freeport coal is labeled UF and the Lower Kittanning coal is LK. Other coals in this sectional diagram are Lower Claysville (LC?),Harlem (H), Lower Bakerstown (lb), Brush Creek (bc), and Upper Kittanning (uk).


Moore, Marilyn (2015, June). Friendsville's History - 250 Years of People, Forest, and River. The Glades Star, Vol. 13, No. 2, p. 44.

Wakefield, Buster (2015, June). I Remember Friendsville. The Glades Star, Vol. 13, No. 2, p. 51.

Pletta, Jennifer (2015, June). Friendsville's Men Who Made a Difference. The Glades Star, Vol. 13, No. 2, p. 65.