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Coal Miners Memorial Eriton Mine, Eriton, Sandy Twp., Clearfield Co., PA

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Eriton Mine
(Eriton Shaft Mine),

Sandy Twp.,
Clearfield County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Memorial to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Eriton Mine, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated June 22, 2010

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Eriton, Sandy Twp., Clearfield Co., PA
[Located on the Erie Railroad Spur Line from Eriton Junction on the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad and the DuBois Electric Railway.]
See: Eriton Mine, Eriton, Sandy Twp., Clearfield Co., PA

Eriton Mine
(Eriton Shaft Mine)
(ca.1905-  ?  ), located 3 1/2 miles south of DuBois on the Erie Railroad Spur Line from Eriton Junction on the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad, Eriton, Sandy Twp., Clearfield Co., PA
[A shaft mine, mined the coal seam vein "D", Lower Freeport, 54 in. thick, a machine mine. daily capacity ca.1910 2,600 tons.]
Owners: (ca.1906-  ?  ), Northwestern Mining & Exchange Co., DuBois, PA
              (ca.1910-  ?  ), Northwestern Mining & Exchange Company, New York, NY
              (ca.1914-  ?  ),  ?

A portion of the U.S.G.S. DuBois, PA 15min. Quad Map, showing the location of Eriton, Sandy Twp., Clearfield Co., PA.  The Erie Railroad Spur, the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad, Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad and United Electric Trolley line that served the town.
(Map courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)

Eriton is located in Sandy Township Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, about four miles south of the city of DuBois.  The site of the former town of Eriton is located near the intersection of U.S. Routes 322 and Rt.119, the site is across Rt. 119 from the hamlet of West Liberty.

According to Edna Zortman, a grandaughter of a former mining superintendent of the Eriton Mine, "On one side of Rt. 119 is West Liberty and on the other side is the site of Eriton.


The coal company patch town of Eriton was born, as were many other municipalities in Clearfield County, to accommodate the men who earned their living mining King Coal around the turn of the 20th Century.

The town of Eriton was founded about ca.1905.  The name Eriton was first heard, in a newspaper article of Dec. 4, 1905, stating that 40 houses were under construction there.  The town was possibly named for the short Eire Railroad spur, that served the Eriton Mine, running from the Eriton Junction on the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad.  The Eriton Erie Railroad Spur located near Eriton was the only tracks laid in Clearfield County by the Erie Railroad.

In May, 1907, the Erie Railroad obtained new trackage rights over the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad and the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad from Clarion Junction to Eleanora Junction, which was later known as Cramer.

No coal was shipped from the Eriton Mine in ca.1905.

Northwestern Mining and Exchange Company was the owner of the coal mining operation at Eriton and with the Erie trackage rights in place, the railroad company was free to construct in ca.1908, a .89 mile railroad line from Eriton Junction located on the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad to the mining town of Eriton.

The Eriton Erie Spur Line was abandoned in ca.1933 with the permisson of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

The Eriton Mine

The Eriton Mine was a fairly large shaft mine.  It was not as expansive as the Big Soldier Mine, located near Reynoldsville in Jefferson County, nor the Cramer Mine, but it offered a good supply of coal.  The Eriton Mine was opened and for many years furnished a large and lucrative payroll.

In ca.1909 the Eriton Shaft Mine loaded 2.600 tons of coal.  Eriton Shaft Mine employed about 526 men and boys, the mine had one 18 foot fan and one 4 foot fan, 12 boilers in the power house and 39 water pumps, and employed 66 mules for haulage.

Memories of Eriton

Mr. Heberling said "I was born  and raised in Eriton, and I was only away from here for 11 years in my whole life."  Several members of Merle Heberling's family worked in the engine room of the Eriton Mine.  His father used to haul coal from the mine to houses in the towns of Eriton and West Liberty.  Mr. Heberling and his wife Leona, lived at Bubois RR, not far from the site of the town of Eriton.

In February 1906, the United Trolley Line from DuBois to Skyesville, began in downtown DuBois and continued on to Skyesville, paralleling the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad line through to the railroad tunnel at West Liberty, were the trolley line entered the streets to Eriton.

Along the United Trolley Line were several major coal mines, including the Eriton Shaft Mine, owned the Northwestern Mining and Exchange Company a subsidary of the Eire Railroad.  The railroad lines were not crossed by the trolley line,  the trolly libe was built for a cost of $80,000.

The trolley line helped to transport men from the municipalities to their jobs at the Eriton Shaft Mine, the men rode in a special section of the trolley called "Black Hand Cars."

Mrs. Heberling said her father, John Penhall, and her brother used to ride the trolley daily from Rathmel near Reynoldsville to work their shift at the Eriton Mine.

Mr. Heberling said "The trolleys made stops in Eriton every hour during the round trips between DuBois and Indiana."

While the trolleys were fairly dependable, however, there was one time recorded when the miners were late for work because of inclement weather.  In 1916, a winter sleet storm caused the Eriton miners to be late for their shift change.  The miners sued to United Trolley Company for lost wages and negligence.  The case was settled in favor of the trolley company.

The Eriton trolley stop was located near the coal company store.  Mr. Heberling said, "The trolley would stop to let the men off and they used a path that went down the hill to the entrance of the mines.  I can still see those cages, big wheels and cable that brought to coal up and took the men down into the mine."

The tipple and mine shaft was the method used to transport workers and materials into and out of the mines.

Ignites Dynamite in Mine Shaft, Bruising Eleven Miners
Pittsburgh, PA  Feb. 21, 1910
Ten men and a boy were injured, three probably fatally, when sparks from a cigarette ignited two five-pound cans of dynamite in an elevator descending into the Eriton Mine near DuBois early today.  The passengers on the mine cage were stripped of clothing.  Eight of the injured are foreigners.
[from "The Indianapolis Star," Indianapolis, IN, Feb. 22, 1910.]

from the "DuBois Courier-Express," Looking Back Column

DuBois, PA, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 1910


Early yesterday morning a wave of excitement was stirred up here by a report that an explosion had occurred in Eriton Shaft, and that a number of men had probably been killed. The Courier posted a bulletin as soon as definite advices could be secured, which gave the welcome intelligence that although a quantity of powder had exploded and a number of men had been severely injured, a real "mine horror" and been averted.

The man called "Jumbo" was smoking a cigarette, and one of the persistent reports said that he was taking powder down in a sack under his coat, and that a spark from the cigarette found its way to the sack, which was concealed because it is against the rules to carry powder into the mine that way, and the explosion resulted. Several of the men carried cans of powder and two were exploded, all making a terrific blast that momentarily stunned the men and filled the cage with flame and immediately set fire to the clothing of the men.

The moment the cage reached the bottom of the shaft the men began tearing off their clothing to keep from burning to death. Several were very severely burned but it is believed all will recover. Cager Frank Devins telephoned to the top of the shaft and assistance was sent down and the injured men were taken to the surface and given firat attention, and then taken to their homes. "Jumbo" went out from DuBois in the trolley car along with Tom and Dominick Kuntz and Frank Valeski. They were returned on a car and all were looked after by Drs. Free and Lewis. Later in the day some of the Eriton men were taken to the Adrian hospital.
[from the "Looking Back" column of the "Du Bois Courier-Express," DuBois, PA, for Friday, February 26, 2010.]

from "The Daily News," Frederick, MD, May 23, 1908
Dynamite Exploded On Trolley Car.
Reynoldsville, PA, May 23, 1908
An Italian starting to work at the Eriton mine boarded a Dubois Traction company car near Sykesville, deposited a five pound keg of powder on the controller at the rear and then entered the smoking compartment.  With a deafening report the powder exploded, wreaking the rear end of the car, seriously injuring three of the car's twenty-five occupants and causing a panic among the others.  The explosion is supposed to have been caused by the controller becoming short circuited.  Francisco Mantano, an Italian miner, who had three sticks of dynamite in his pocket, was knocked from his seat, leaped from the car and was last seen running over a hill.
[from "The Daily News," Frederick, MD, May 23, 1908.]

[from the "Indiana Democrat," Indiana, PA, May 27, 1908.
Powder Explodes on Car
Reynoldsville, Pa.
An Italian starting to work at the Eriton mine, boarded a Dubois Traction Company car near Sykesville, deposited a five-pound keg of powder on the controller at the rear, and then sat down in the smoiking compartment to study the scenery,  With a deafening report, the powder exploded, wreaking the rear end of the car, shattering most of the windows, seriously injuring three of the car's 25 occupants and causing a panic among the rest.
[from the "Indiana Democrat," Indiana, PA, May 27, 1908.]

From The "Warren Tribune," Warren, PA, March 9, 1928

$40,000 Property Loss is Estimated Result of Eriton Blaze.

Dubois, PA March 10, 1928
The power house of the Northwestern Mining and Exchange Company at its Eriton Shaft, near here, was destroyed by fire Friday.

Officials of the company estimated property loss at $40,000.

The fire which started from an unknown source destroyed the electric station, motor generating sets and hoisting departments of the company.

Fireman were unable to fight the fire effectively when the flames rea ched the motor genrators causing the pumps to cease functioning ands shutting off the water supply.

A large tipple within a few feet of the power house was saved by the use of chemicals.

When th epumps ceased to operate water flooded the shaft.  Tem[orary arrangements are being made to operate the pumps in order to prevent flood waters from destroying the workings.

Five hundred men normally were employed at the shaft, but it had not operated for six months.
[from "The Warren Tribune," Warren, PA, March 9, 1928.] & [from "Simpson's Daily Leader-Times," Kittanning, PA, March 9, 1928.]

from "The DuBois Courier," DuBois, PA, Oct. 1, 1928

Eriton Mine is Flooded, Stops Pump's Removal

The Eriton mine has again been flooded, this haveing occurred when the recently built dam between the Soldier and Eriton mines gave way one day last week, says the Sykesville Post Dispatch.  This dam had been built between these two mines for the purpose of backing up the water from Soldier and the old R. & P. mines and forcing it out through drill holes near the old R. & P. shaft.  This process of dsraining the surplus water had kept the openings in the Eriton mine dry.  The water pressure probably became so great on the dam that it caused a break.  All this water rushed into the Eriton mine, which is lower than Soldier and filled rooms and headings, making it impossible to continue the removal of pumps and machinery which had been progressing.  The loss will be heavy and if this section of the Eriton mine is to be worked in the future, it will require a great amount of pumping to make it possible to enter the headings.

Some idea of the great force of this water was gained by persons who witnessed the flow of air insuing from the old gas wells located on the Skyes property and in the basement of it.  G. Sprague's garge.  These wells had been drilled years ago and used to furnish the gas supply for the old Skyes Hotel.  The flood in the Eriton mines caused a huge air pressure which found exit throught these wells causing a whistling sound that could be heard several hundred feet from their openings.
[from "The Dubois Courier," DuBois, PA, Oct. 1, 1928.]

Coal Miners Memorial Eriton Shaft Mine,
Eriton, Sandy Twp., Clearfield Co., PA

An Alphabetical Index to the Coal Mines & Coal Companies
of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania

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