Aerial photo of Van Voorhis illustrates the grid layout of most patch towns. The mine and town were opened in 1915 by the Youghiogheny-Pittsburgh Coal Co. (Image taken from a plane by Chris H)

Nov. 2003 image by author

The Van Voorhis coal patch village. The Valley Camp Coal Company mined a 70 inch section of the Pittsburgh seam in their Soudan Mine there.

Nov. 2003 image by author

These coal company houses are typical of most, but not all, of the homes at Van Voorhis.

Nov. 2003 image by author

Sealed mine entry at Van Voorhis.

Nov. 2003 image by author

This is the "downtown" section of Van Voorhis, and also part of the adjacent Hazel Kirk No. 2 patch. One of these structures was probably the company store.

Nov. 2003 image by author

Many of the coal mining towns in Western Pennsylvania have "Honor Rolls" in a prominent section of the town as a tribute to those who served in the armed forces. Here is the one at Van Voorhis.

A 1915 issue of Coal Age magazine described the Soudan Mine:

"... Located in Washington County, on the Ellsworth branch of the Pennsylvania R.R., this mine will develop a large acreage of Pittsburgh coal at a proposed daily output of 2500 tons. The coal is reached by a concrete-lined double-track slope about 500 ft. long on a 20-per cent pitch. The manway and airway are constructed in a two-compartment concrete-lined shaft, rectangular in section and with an 8-in. reinforced partition wall between the stair and airway compartments. Ventilation is secured by means of a 9 ft. by 8 ft. 10 in. American Blower Co. Sirocco fan, set in a brick and concrete housing entirely of fireproof construction. The fan is belt-driven by a 175/50-hp. three-phase 2200-volt motor, controlled from the powerhouse. The powerhouse is 45x30ft., of fireproof construction, being built of hollow tile. It contains the motor-generator set, switchboard and haulage engine; it is also the charging station for miners' lamps. The motor-generator set furnishes 250-volt direct current for inside work. West Penn power is used exculsively at this plant, all motors being built for 2300-volt three-phase alternating current ... The system of hauling coal to the surface is one best-suited to the local conditions. The equipment embraces 2700 ft. of 1 1/2-in endless plow-steel rope, to which the cars are attached by means of cast-steel grips. The rope extends back into the mine 400 ft., at which point are located the tail sheave and tension carriage. Safety dogs are placed every 20 ft. on the uphaul to hold the cars in case the grips should slip ... A tipple is built of heavy frame construction from native lumber and consists of 12x12-in. white oak bents substantially braced. The building is equipped with two crossover dumps of latest design, and also the most improved screens and weigh pans. The slate is readily disposed of by means of a spur extending from the side of the tipple...

In accordance with the directions of the owners to provide comfortable homes for the employees in a sanitary location, the site of the town contiguous to this mine is one of the prettiest in the state. Double frame houses of 10 rooms, with 6-ft. cellar, as well as small 3-room cottages of neat design for use of smaller families have been built. Each family has a large plot for gardening and vegetable raising. A water system furnishing pure spring water for household use has been installed while adequate fire protection is now being projected."