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Coal Miners Memorial Barking Mines (Oakmont No 1 Mine), Barking, Plum Twp., Allegheny Co., PA

Coal Mines of Allegheny Co., PA MAIN INDEX
Barking Mine
(Oakmont No. 1 Mine),

Plum Twp.,
Allegheny County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Barking Mines, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

Raymond A. Washlaski, Historian, Editor,
Ryan P. Washlaski, Technical Editor,

Updated Aug. 1, 2010

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Barking, Plum Twp., Allegheny Co., PA
[A coal company Patch Town, located along the Allegheny River in Plum Twp., Allegheny Co., PA]
[Located on the Allegheny Valley Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Allegheny River.]
See: Barking Mine, Barking, Plum Twp., Allegheny Co., PA
       Oakmont Mine, Barking, Plum Twp., Allegheny Co., PA

Barking Mine
(Oakmont Mine)
Located on a strip of land under the cliffs of Coxcomb hill, on the Allegheny Valley Railroad and with barge loading facilities on the Allegheny River, Barking, Plum Twp., Allegheny Co., PA
Owners: (ca.1917-     ?   ), Diamond Coal & Coke Company, Pittsburgh, PA
              (ca.1920-    ?   ), Diamond Coal & Coke Company, Pittsburgh, PA
              (ca.1933-    ?   ), Hillman Coal & Coke Company
              (ca.1936-    ?   ), Hillman Coal & Coke Company,
              (ca.1946-    ?   ), Hillman Coal & Coke Company,     
              (ca.1954-    ?   ), Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Company,
              (           -ca.1979)

A portion of the U.S.G.S. New Kensington, PA 15min. Quad map ca.1910, showing the little Village of Barking along the Allegheny River.  The map also shows the location of the original Allegheny River dam at Barking, before the newer dam was constructed further down the river at Acmetonia. The Barking Mine and the present Village of Barking were constructed after ca.1910. 
(Map courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)

The town of Barking was home to the Oakmont Coal Mine which opened in ca.1917. During the early days it had a train station, company store, boarding house, school house, and a number of homes. It was serviced by a ferry that ran between Springdale and Barking. The miners who lived across the river rode the ferry to work. The mine closed in 1979 and the Barking Post Office closed shortly afterwards. Before the mine opened, the village was known as Johnson's Station. It was a popular stopover for the rivermen who piloted the large rafts of lumber down the Allegheny to Pittsburgh. There were a number of boarding houses and taverns that served the rivermen located there. It was their last stop along the river before reaching Pittsburgh. After delivering the lumber to Pittsburgh, some of the men would walk along the river back to northwestern Pennsylvania. The Bright House was a popular inn with the rivermen. Barking was also home to a large brickyard in the late 1800's. There was also a dynamite factory located there. In 1894 it exploded and 5 workers were killed. No one knows for sure where the name "Barking" originated, some said it was named as a result of the numerous barking dogs in the area, while others say it was named after the town of Barking in England.

September 11, 1933, at the Oakmont Mine, Barking, PA. Seven miners were killed when “gas…was ignited…from cracks in the bottom.”

from the "Clearfield Progress," Clearfield, PA , Mon., Sept. 11, 1933
Coal Dust Blast Kills 7 Workingmen At Oakmont Mine

Score Escape When Blast Occurs Soon After Work Begins

Eighth Man Badly Burned.
But All Others in Mine are Believed to Have Escaped Serious Hurts.

Hillman Company Mine

Pittsburgh, Sept. 11, 1933  UP
Seven miners were killed today when coal dust ignited in the Oakmont Mine of the Hillman Coal and Coke Company at Barking Station.

More than a score of other miners fled three miles through the drift shaft to the surface and excaped when the blast let go shortly after the day's work began.

Immediately after word of the blast was brought to the surface by terrified miners, Hillman officials sent emergency calls to the Pittsburgh office of the Federal Bureau of Mines for rescue crews.

The last of the seven bodies was brought to the surface by rescue crews headed by J. J. Forbes, Chief engineer of the local Bureau of Mies safety division.  Six of them were identified as:

Mike Stopo, 35 Springdale, a driver; Charles Solomon, 47, New Kensington, a loader; Greeley Tusing, Valley Heights; Jack Miller, Acmetonia, and a man described only as "Mike."

The seventh was carried to the improvised morgue in a nearby fan house to await identification.

There was one other casualty, Joseph Payer, 23, of Springdale, who was taken to Citizens General Hospital, New Kensington, suffering burns on the hands and face.

Rescuers believed no one was trapped, and that only the nine, caught in the apex of the explosion, were casualties.

That report lessened the anziety of the scores of women, children and miners off duty who had gathered at the first word of the explosion, fearful for the safety of relatives and friends.

Those whose relatives were not accounted for gathered around the improvised morgue, however, to view the unidentified body when they were allowed to enter, or stayed close to the mine shaft to see the four remaining bodies when they were brought out.  Their friends stayed with them, silently sympathetic.

Highway patrolmen who took up positions some distance from the mine kept traffic moving and diverted it from the scene, explaining crowds would hamper rescuers.

The mine employs more than 200 men at the workings, but only 30 odd had gone down No. 13 butt, entry six, west, when the explosion wrecked the extreme interior.
from the "Clearfield Progress," Clearfield, PA , Mon., Sept. 11, 1933

Hillman Mine Foreman Killed
F. J. McIntyre, 61, of Fifth Avenue, New Kensington, night foreman of the Hillman Coal & Coke Company, was killed Monday night while entering the mine for the night shift, according to the morgue.
Mine officiaals said the foreman was struck by three timbers which fell from the roof as he was riding into the mine on a mine motor.  Death was attributed to a broken neck.  The mine is located in Plum township.

[from the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette," Pittsburgh, PA, Nov. 11, 1947.]

Barking Mine, West Penn Subsidary, Has 200 Idle in Dispute
New Kensington, PA  Dec. 23, 1951
Wheeling Steel Corporation's Barking Mine near here was closed today because of a grievance dispute, idling 200 men.

Pickets from Barking also appeared at the Allegheny & Pittsburgh Coal Company mine at Logan's Ferry, Wednesday night and caused late shift workers to return home.  The pit, a subsidary of West Penn Power Company employes 400 Men.
[from "The Daily Courier," Connellsville, PA, Dec. 23, 1951.]

from the "Oshkosh Daily Northwestern," Oshkosh, WI, Tues., Feb. 21, 1961

21 Miners Hopeful At Mine Reopening
Editor's Note:  Although economic hardship prevails in much of the nation's coal fields, the clouds of gloom held a silver lining for a handful of miners in Western Pennsylvania this week when our mine reopened after seven months of idleness.  UPI Reporter Fred Treesh accompanied the first shift of miners into the reopened mine.  In the following dispatch, he describes how the surprise recall brought new hope to the men.  Unfortunately, industry spokemen said, the reopening of one mine holds little prospect of better times for thousands of other mine workers still jobless.

Ed Moffet hummed a happy tune as he swune a pick viciously at the wall of coal in front of him.

For Ed, each cut of the pick represented a niche in the mountain of debts that built up during months of idleness.

"I'll tell you, it's nice to be back," said Moffet, a lifelong miner from New Kensington, PA, as he smoothed a place on the face of a mine tunnel for a mechanical drill to make its first bite in seven months.

A little after 8 a.m., Moffet and 20 other miners climbed onto an orange colored electric train for a jolting, two mile ride down the slope of the Harmar Coal Company's Oakmont Mine, located 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.  It was their first trip through the winding tunnel since last July 29, when the mine closed brcause the coal it yielded no longer was needed.

Bleak Future
Moffet and the others were put out of work, like thousands of other miners in the nation's coal fields, when the Oakmont Mine shut down.

Times were hard, and the future appeared bleak until their telephones rang a week ago today.  Word that the mine was reopening came just in time to avert economic disaster for most of the men who had only two or three more $40 checks to draw before their unemployment compensation ran out.

Sixty-five men were called back to the mine initially.  As work progresses inside the 42-year-old pit, more and more men will be recalled until the entire complement of 150 is back on the job, probably within four to six weeks.  Each man will be earning at least $25 a day.

The reopening of the Oakmont Mine with its $1 million anual payroll will have little economic significance to the industry as a whole, according to an industry source.  The spokeman said the mine, which has a 3,000 ton-a-day maximum output, was reactivated because of a "surplus of work" at other mines in operation.

Trickle Here, There
The source noted that a major steel prodicer had expanded operations at two of its largest captive mines from three to five days a week.  Another steel firm in Pittsburgh has relighted a furnace and refired an additional battery of coke ovens.

Although giving little consequence to these minute upturns, the industry source added, "a trickle here and there might mean something."

As John McCready switched on his helmet light and started down the long concrete staircase to the waiting mine train, a board smile crossed his face.

"It's good to be back," said McCready, a miner for 25 years who had experienced his first prolonged furlough.  "What you have saved up doesn't take long to go.  I only had three more unemployment checks left."

McCready, from New Kensington, is married and the father of an 11-year-old son.

To Walter Sabot of Lower Burrell, PA, goig back to work is like "pennies from Heaven."

Happy to be back
"After seven months, everybody's happy to be back," sabot said as he placed his lunch pail on the train seat and climbed in beside it.

"Things were pretty rough with the mortgage and utilities," he said while the train jolted alog through the gray-lime-coated tunnel.  "I just got a $40 gas bill because of the hard winter.  It's going to be easier to pay now."

"My wife nearly fell over when she heard the mine was going to open again," Sabot said.

Raymond Jefferson of Arnold, like the other miners, was eager to start his first day back at work.

"I almost got a ticket driving over here," he said, beaming.

Jefferson said he was out when the mine superintendent telephoned his home last Tuesday with the news that the mine was reopening.  His wife became so overcome with excitement and she couldn't tell him about it when he came home.

"My brother told me. At first I didn't believe it."  Jefferson said, explaining that he and his brother, also a miner, frequently joked about the mine reopening, hardly daring to hope it ever would.

Two Hours Overtime
Lester Howell of Apollo worked two hours overtime on his first day back, but he appeared fresh when he emerged from the mine.

"After the rest I had, I can stand a few extra hours," he said.

As he piloted a small self-propelled mine car though the cavernous interior of the mine.  Howell explained what he amd the other miners encountered when they tried to find new jobs after the Oakmont Mine closed.

"I went to several coal companies looking for work," Howell said.  "They said they would like to employ me because of my experience, but they already had men of their own laid off.  They couldn't hire me."

The miners were jubilant on their first day back in the pit.

Four of five joked as they guilded a cutting machine into the solid coal face of a mine tunnel.  When the machine blade, resembling a dinosaur tail, cut into  the wall, a dense cloud of choking, blinding dust spewed forth.  The men stepped back, coughing and wiping their eyes.  But they still managed smiles.

"It'll take four doubleheaders of whisky to settle that dust," one of the them quipped, evoking a chorus of laughs from the others.

Tears of Joy
The happiness was not confined to the mine, however.

In a little four-room house on Barking's only street, Mrs. Ann Tromza, a portly matron, tried to put into words her feelings about the mine reopening. Tears welled in her eyes.  For several minutes she was unable to speak. The she recalled the many months of uncertainty when her husband, Pete was idle.

"When you don't have ay work, there's no income."  She said, "It was pretty bad.  We just bought this house before the mine closed, and we had made a lot of repairs.  It was awfully hard to meet the payments."

Mrs. Tromza said it would be easier now to clothe and feed her husband and their four children, aged 15, 8, 7, and 5.

"We won't have to scrape from the bottom of the barrel anymore," she said.

A few doors up the deeply rutted gravel street, Henry Miller, Postmaster and grocer, tended his modest store with the help of his wife.

"We're tickled to death the mine's open again," Miller said, "Our business fell off 50 percent while it was closed."

The hardship even showed on the faces of the children who came into the store, " Mrs. Miller said, "Even our candy business fell off."

Storekeepers in dozens of communities around Barking are bound to share in the good times again just like Millers.  With the Oakmont Mine back in operation they are certain to reap the benefits of its $1 million-a-year payroll.
[from the "Oshkosh Daily Northwestern," Oshkosh, WI, Tues., Feb. 21, 1961.]

Five of the seven remaining double-family coal company miners houses in the Village of Barking, Plum Township, Allegheny Co., PA.  The houses are situated on a narrow strip of land above the Allegheny Valley Railroad tracks, with Coxcomb hill directly behind them and the Allegheny River in front.
(Photo ca.2005 by Raymond A. Washlaski.)
Remains of twelve miners houses destroyed by a fire at Barking, Aug. 9, 1927.   From the looks of the remains of the foundations the houses seem to have been a large row house containing twelve units.
(Photo courtesy of the "Pittsburgh Press," Pittsburgh, PA, Aug. 9, 1927.)
One house situated closer to the mine buildings has been altered into a single family house, with Coxcomb hill directly behind the house.  A large gap in the row of houses probably indicates that there were several more houses in the line.  The cribing supported the road above the railroad tracks.
(Photo ca.2006 by Raymopnd A. Washlaski)
Miners double-family houses at Barking, Plum, Township, Allegheny Co., PA, looking up the Allegheny river along the river road.
(Photo ca.2006 by Raymond A. Washlaski.)

One of the remaining mine building from the Barking Mine.  The building looks to be the wash house for the mine.  The mine entrance is to the left of the building.  Concrete retaining walls line the hillside in front of the building. Various smaller foundations are also present along the hillside.
(Photo ca.2006 by Raymond A. Washlaski.)

The river barge loading tipple with the base of a much larger tipple to the right.  The smaller tipple might have been the last tipple used at the Barking Mine for loading the coal barges.
(Photo ca.2006 by Raymopnd A. Washlaski)
The land side of the last river barge loading tipple.  The coal was tranported over the railroad tracks to the tipple.  Several large concrete foundations line the river bank in front of the Barking Mine buildings
(Photo ca.2006 by Raymond A. Washlaski)
Large concrete piers support the barge loading tipple in the river.  A string of barge tie-up piers can be seen behind the tipple. 
(Photo ca.2006 by Raymond A. Washlaski.)
Various concrete piers are along the river bank at the Barking Mne site, possibly the supports for an earlier coal loading barge tipple on the river.  Newer round barge tie up piers are also present. 
(Photo ca.2006 by Raymond A. Washlaski.)

"Coal Miners Memorial, Barking Mines (Oakmont No. 1 Mine),
Barking, Plum Twp., Allegheny County, Pennsylvania"

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