Miner, Center, Research, and Coke Ovens

Company Store Gift Shop

Company Store Gift Shop


Another Time Another World: Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal, Coke, and Communities

John A. Enman, Ph.D. Stefano's Printing, 2010

Available at Penn State Fayette Coal And Coke Heritage Center: 724-430-4158

Soft-cover: $30.00

Coal Mines, Coke Yards, Company Stores: Families of the Patch

Compiled and written by Bobby G. Salitrik. Stefano’s Printing, 1994.

Especially designed for elementary school students, this 28-page activity book features short stories, poems, word games and coloring pages featuring a glimpse of daily life during the days of coal mining and coke making in the Connellsville Coke Region.

Soft-cover: $5.00

Common Lives of Uncommon Strength: The Women of the Coal and Coke Era of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Compiled, written and edited by Evelyn A. Hovanec. Stefano’s Printing, 2002.

“They led common lives of uncommon strength, courage, endurance and hope.” This 227-page anthology of personal recollections grew from interviews conducted when the Coal and Coke Heritage Center first began compiling archives and oral histories. From a woman’s prospective and through a woman’s voice come the words of their experiences; they are the voices of a past time telling their stories of a lifetime. Included are vintage photographs, documents, maps, and newspaper articles.

Soft-cover: $25.00
Hardcover: $35.00

Patch/Work Voices: The Culture and Lore of a Mining People

Compiled and written by Dennis F. Brestensky, Evelyn A. Hovanec and Albert N. Skomra. Patch/Work Voices Publishing, 4th printing, 2003.

First issued in 1977, and now considered the classic work on the coal and coke industry, this 90-page book contains stories and testimonies from area coal miners, coke workers, and their families. Along with the industry, details include information related to home and community, beliefs and customs, and even a touch of humor. A coda brings readers up to date with what has happened in the region since the initial printing.

Soft-cover: $15.00

The Early Coke Worker

Edited by Dennis F. Brestensky. Connellsville Printing Company, 1994.

The papers and transcribed talks in this second series of three publications were delivered at a conference held at Penn State Fayette in April 1994. Featured presenters include John A. Enman (Connellsville Coke; Catalyst and Victim of Change) and Max Nobel (Beehive Coke, Menallen Coke Company at Shoaf: Last Commercial Firing of Ovens). This 166-page edition also incorporates vintage photos of the coking industry.

Soft-cover: $15.00

Mining Literature and Lore

Edited by Dennis F. Brestensky. Connellsville Printing Company, 1997.

Last in a series of three publications, this edition is an anthology of papers delivered at a conference on Mining Literature and Lore held at Penn State Fayette in September 1995. Featured presenters include Barbara Angle (The Lure of the Mine: A Miner’s Tale of Struggle and Survival Underground), Judith Hendershot (Mining Memories: The Seduction to Write) and Sonja Jason (Women of the Coal Culture). Illustrations from original artwork by Ellen Carroll, Charles Kovach and Robert Hustead complete this 140-page edition.

Soft-cover: $15.00


Silver Cinders: The Legacy of Coal and Coke in Southwestern Pennsylvania

A production of Cultural Heritage Research Services Inc. and Branch Valley Video Productions. Produced in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2000.

This 56-minute documentary, available on VHS or DVD, chronicles the coal and coke industry in southwestern Pennsylvania with emphasis on Fayette County. Learn the story of how coal was discovered, mined and transformed into coke, and the major role these two resources played in America’s Industrial Revolution. Along with hundreds of vintage photographs and original film footage, this informational film features interviews with the people who lived and worked during the coal and coke era.



Collectible Series

Coal Tipple

A typical mining structure found throughout the bituminous coal region, the tipple was built directly over the mine shaft. The head wheels guided the steel cables from the engine house to raise and lower the cages into the shaft, moving coal, equipment, and miners. As the pit cars were hoisted to the surface, each load of coal was “tipped” over and loaded into larry cars. First constructed from the abundant supply of timber, the support frames for the tipple were later built of steel.

Cost: $20.00 Each

Coke Ovens

Building a standard beehive coke oven required 3,000 crown bricks, 1,200 lining bricks, 120 bottom tiles and 20 cubic yards of stone. In the beehive oven, the coal was “baked” for two or three days at approximately 2,000 degrees farenheit and produced a yield of 2/3 ton of coke from every ton of coal. The resulting coke was nearly pure carbon and was in great demand as a fuel in the iron and steel making process. In 1910, of the 55,166 coke ovens in Pennsylvania, 44,252 were located in the Connellsville Coke District.

Cost: $20.00 Each

Company Store

The hub of activity in each patch was the company store, which provided all the essentials of life: food, clothing, mail, garden supplies, gifts, hardware, and mining supplies. In later years they also supplied gasoline. Each coal miner and coke worker had a separate account identified by name, house number, and work tag number. Purchases were recorded and the cost deducted from the worker’s bi-monthly wages. In addition, the store at times served as the miner’s place of wage payment and his recreation center. One if the largest company store chains in western Pennsylvania was the Union Supply Company, incorporated in 1898. The chain served the coal and coke plants of the H. C. Frick Coke Company which later became U. S. Steel.

Cost: $20.00 Each

Blacksmith Shop/Stable

Since horses and mules pulled coal and coke wagons in the pre-mechanical industrial era, the stable and blacksmith shop were an integral part of the mining community. The coal companies had a considerable investment in their livestock, and it was the driver’s duty to care for his horse and protect it as he would himself or a fellow miner. The stable provided a shelter where the animals could be boarded and their needs attended. In some shaft mines, horses and mules were housed in underground stables. The blacksmith made repairs on mining tools and equipment and sharpened the miners’ picks, augers, and bits. He also worked as a farrier and shod the horses and mules.

Cost: $20.00 Each

Coal Shed/Outhouse

Located in the backyards, this four-door structure served as a combination coal shed and privy. It accommodated the needs of the two families occupying the company-owned double house located at the front of the property. Children carried coal in burlap sacks to fill the coal-shed each fall to ensure a supply of coal for heat and for cooking. Sanitation crews, known as “honey dippers,” cleaned the outhouse or privy section on a regular basis. The structure was usually painted the same color as the company house. A whitewashed fence often surrounded the entire yard, which usually contained a vegetable garden and/or flower garden, a clothesline, and sheds for any animals kept by the family.

Cost: $20.00 Each

Hand carved coal miners, produced by David Castano, Columbia Carvings. Each figure is unique; please specify African-American or Caucasian.

1903 version: miner with canary cage and carbide headlamp

1930 version: miner with safety lamp and battery headlamp.

Cost: $25.00 each

Miscellaneous Items

Blueprint Reproductions

8-Room, 2-Family Patch House
Horse Shoes
Price: $5.00

Reproduciton Maps

Coke Works-1800
Connellsville Coke Region
Price: $5.00

Coke Region
Price: $5.00

Beehive Coke Oven Bank

Green or Amber

Price: $20.00


Postcards feature horses and mules at work in the coal and coke industry. Additional facts and data are included on the reverse of each image.

Set of 6/$3.00

Note cards

Note card featuring the watercolors of Ellen Whyel Carroll

Three of each of these two images (5”X7”):

Tipple (Continental #1),

Beehive Ovens

Set of 6 with envelopes/$10.00

Photo Collection

Six color photos of Leisenring II (West Leisenring), taken in the mid-1950s by Reverend Edward Tajc. Evoking memories of a by-gone era, these 5”x7” images are suitable for framing.

Set of 6 with photographer’s biographical information/$10.00