Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

Mine buggy - Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania
Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania

Digital Coal Research Library
The 20th Century Society of Western Pennsylvania
Links to:
Darr Mine Disaster, December 19, 1907, Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Darr Mine Disaster Remembered, Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Darr Mine Disaster, Miracle of the Intercession of St. Nicholas, Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA, USA


Coal Miners Memorial, Darr Mine, Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Coal Miners Memorial, Banning No. 3 Mine, Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA


Coal Mines of Westmoreland Co., PA INDEX
Map of Westmoreland Co., PA
Map of R.R. Transportation System Westmoreland Co.
Darr Mine &
Banning No. 3 Mine

Pittsburgh Coal Company,
Van Meter (Jacobs Creek),
Rostraver Township,
Westmoreland County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Darr Mine, Van Meter, Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated July 25, 2010

Search our web sites total data base!
Enter a Miner's last name, Coal Mine name, or Coal Company Name.
 A single name works best.
powered by FreeFind
Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
[A Coal Company Patch Town in Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania.]
[Located on the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.]
[Coal Company Store was the Federal Supply Company Store No. 27.]
[The Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad bed is now a part of the Great Allegheny Passage rails-to-trails bike trail.]
See: Darr Mine, Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
       Banning No. 3 Mine, Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
       Van Meter Mine, Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Darr Mine (ca.1850-1910),
Located on Oliphant Dr. off PA SR 3027, on the Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad, on the Youghiogheny River bank, up river and just south of Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
The Darr Mine, is one of the oldest mine in this coal field, the first coal having been taken out around 1850.
The Darr Mine also had a cable car ferry, the "Sky Ferry," connection across the Youghiogheny River to Jacobs Creek, South Huntingdon Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA this was used to transport men and supplies across the river.  Later a swinging bridge was built.
[Site of a Mining disaster on Dec. 19, 1907, that killed 239 Miners.]

[The Darr Mine was reopened ca.1910 and was renamed as another entry of Banning No. 3 Mine, along with the adjacent Banning No. 3 Mine entry, located just down river from Van Meter, PA.]
[The name Darr Mine was not used after ca.1910.]
[The site of the Darr Mine is located along the Yough River Trail, a part of the Great Allegheny Passage Biking Trail on the roadbed of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.]
Owners: (ca.1989-1919), Pittsburgh Coal Company, Pittsburgh, PA
                                       Company Store: Federal Supply Company
                                       [See also: Banning No. 1 Mine, Fayette Co., PA]

Banning No. 3 Mine (ca.1903-1919), (ca.1950-  ?  )
Located on the Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad, across the Youghiogheny River from Jacobs Creek, just down river from Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
[After ca.1910 the adjacent Darr Mine was renamed and became another entry of Banning No. 3 Mine]

[The Banning No. 3 Mine was closed ca.1919, it was rebuilt and reopened around ca.1950.]
Owners: (ca.1903-19 ?), Pittsburgh Coal Company, Pittsburgh, PA
                                       Company Store: Federal Supply Company
                                              [Banning No. 3 Mine was closed and abandoned ca.1919.]
                                              [Banning No. 3 Mine was reopened ca.1950.]

A portion of the Connellsville, PA 15min. Quad Map, ca.1902 showing the coal company patch towns of Van Meter & Jacobs Creek, Westmoreland County, PA and Banning No. 1, Fayette County, PA.  The Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad that serviced the mines and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad across the Youghiogheny River.
(Map courtesy of the U. S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)

DESCRIPTION:
The coal patch town of Van Meter is located on the west bank of the Youghiogheny River in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, southwest of Smithton and Jacobs Creek, in South Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland Co., PA.  Van Meter contains about thirty coal company-built miners' houses, built for the Banning No. 3 Mine, a managers' row, built for the Darr Mine, the site of the former coal company store, and a Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad Station.  The P. & L. E. Railroad station was named "Jacobs Creek."

Most of the Darr Mine coal company miners' houses in the Village of Van Meter were located along the base of the hill, above the railroad tracks.  Just about all traces of these house have long since disappeared, with only a few remaining.  Many of the Darr Mine miners lived in the Village of Jacobs Creek, across the Youghiogheny River from the Darr Mine.

Some of the Original Darr Mine Patch miners houses, that were along the hillside, at Van Meter, PA.

The Village of Jacobs Creek ca.1900 is shown in the foreground and across the Youghiogheny River, running through the iddle of the photo, is the Darr Mine and associeted buildings.  The two plumes of smoke in the upper right of the photo are from the Darr Mine power house and fan house.
(Photo by Glen Lancaster; Courtesy of John Sheppard of Smithton, PA, and the "Times-Sun ," of West Newton, PA)

A birds eye view of The Village of Jacobs Creek ca.1900 across the Youghiogheny River, from the Darr Mine complex.  The Darr Mine boney dump or slate dump is at the bottom of the photo.  The photo was taken from the Darr Mine buildings.
(Photo by Glen Lancaster; Courtesy of John Sheppard of Smithton, PA, and the "Times-Sun ," of West Newton, PA)

The Van Meter Hotel ca.1917, was located next to the Coal Company Store, Federal Supply Co. No. 27.  The P. & L. E. Railroad Station with the Jacobs Creek sign and the No. 237 on the building was along the tracks and railroad the Van Meter railroad yard on the river side of the Hotel.
(Photo courtesy of the P. & L. E. Collection, University of Pittsburgh Libraries, Pittsburgh, PA.)

The coal company Store building was a two-story wood-frame building clad in lap siding.  It featured a central gable roof with a wing on either side.  The building rested on a coursed-rubble stone foundation. After the mines closed the coal company store was used as the Van Meter Post Office.
Undated photo of the Van Meter Post Office, with some of the Van Meter kids.
(Undated Photo of Van Meter Post Office courtesy of Bill Mansfield, Amherst, OH.)

Most of the miners houses built for the Darr Mine were on the upper side of the railroad tracks, along the hillside, down river from the company store.

In this closeup of the previous photo, you can still see the old Federal Supply Co. No. 27 sign on the store front and the newer Van Meter Post Office sign above the doorway.
(Undated Photo courtesy of Bill Mansfield, Amherst, OH.)

The former Darr Mine Coal Company Store building in VanMeter, Rostraver Township, Westmoreland Co., PA showing the various alterations made since it was used as the coal company store.   The buildings windows were altered and it was clad in insulbrick when the store was converted into a residence.

The Darr Mine office was to the left of this building and the manway portals  for the men and the mules of the Darr Mine was in the hillside behind this building.

The Coal Company Store building was torn down a few years ago, around ca.2005, and a house trailer sets on the siteof the former coal company store.
(Photo by Chris Dellamea, courtesy of Chris Dellamea, Editor of "Coal Camp USA." web site.)

Several P. & L. E. Railroad workers barracks ca.1917, were located on the river side and next to the bridge into VanMeter, that crossed the railroad yards just south of the location of the coal company store.
(Photo courtesy of the P. & L. E. Collection, University of Pittsburgh Libraries.)

The Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad passenger depot is a one-story wood-frame building and was extensively altered when it was remodeled as a residence.

The site of the Darr Mine is located along the Yough River Trail, a part of the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail on the former Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad bed.  Not much remains at the site of the Darr Mine, a retaining wall of what is said to be the blacksmith shop, a few concrete foundation walls of the tipple and a large pile of boney [Slate dump] on the river bank.  Portions of the  brick walls of the powder magazine, can still be seen on the hill side above the present road. The mine buildings have fallen down, and the mine portals have collapsed.  An opening to the main mine portal is evident in the hillside above the foundation walls.

The blacksmith shop was converted to the town meeting hall after the Darr Mine was worked out.  The concrete floor was covered with wood flooring, and the building was used as a recreation center, meeting place, and a place were church services were conducted.  In ca.2007, all that remains is the concrete retaining wall and portions of the concrete floor.

A drawing showing the layout of the Darr Mine Builldings, tipple, entrance to the mine, the P. & L. E. Railroad tracks and the Sky Ferry to Jacobs Creek.  The P. & L. E. Railroad station in the village of Van Meter was called Jacobs Creek, the drawing shows a road to Jacobs Creek [Van Meter].   [Drawing courtesy of the "Pittsburg Dispatch," Dec. 20, 1907.]

The Darr Mine coal loading Tipple on the Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad.

HISTORY:
Just up the Youghiogheny River, a short distance south of the road leading to the coal company patch town of Van Meter, the Pittburgh Coal Company operated the Darr Mine in Rostraver Township and the adjacent Banning No. 1 Mine in Perry Twp., Fayette County.  (Banning No. 1 and No. 2 Mines were located nearby in Fayette County.)  Banning No. 3 Mine was located just down river from Van Meter and Banning No. 4 Mine was located across from West Newton at Buddtown.)

The Darr Mine, on the west side of the Youghiogheny River, was connected to Jacobs Creek, on the east side of the Youghiogheny River, by a cable car Ferry [the Sky Ferry], with a large box attached, that ran across the Youghiogheny River, to a structure on the east side of the river.  The cable car ferry was used to transport miners to the Darr Mine from Jacobs Creek, and to haul men and supplies across the river from the Village of Jacobs Creek to the Darr Mine and Van Meter.

The Sky Ferry, the small box suppended above the river, was used to cross the Youghiogheny River by the miners of the Darr Mine, that lived in Jacobs Creek.  The Darr Mine can be seen across the river, from the Sky Ferry, a string of mine cars, the blacksmith shop , and the Fan House on the hill side.  The river bank is filled with mine timber props, and part of the boney dump is to the left.

The Sky Ferry building on the Jacobs Creek side of the Youghiogheny River.  The Sky Ferry was used by the miners and residents of Jacobs Creek to cross the river to Van Meter and the Darr Mine.

There is also a local legend that a manway was also located on the Jacobs Creek side of the river, connected to the Darr Mine via. a tunnel under the river, this legend is probably false.  Many of the miners at the Darr Mine lived across the Youghiogheny River from the Darr Mine, in the Village of Jacobs Creek and used the Sky Ferry to cross the river to work.

Manways were located behind the Federal Supply Company Store No. 27 and the Darr Mine company office building in VanMeter, these were the entries used by the miners and to take the mules and horses into the mine.  This was done so that coal company officials could keep an eye on which miners entered and left the mine.  The Manway was the portal that the miners and mine mules entered the mine through, not the main portal, which was used to transport the loaded mine cars to the tipple.

From the mine inspectors report for 1906, on the Conditions of Mines and Improvements, the following has been extracted.  "Mines located on the and near the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Darr Mine - Ventilation not satisfactory at the time of my last visit, but they had ten men at work enlarging and straightening the air ways.  Drainage satisfactory."

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker for the Darr Mine Disaster Pennsylvania Historic Site Marker

Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission Historic Site Marker honoring the coal miners killed in the Darr Mine Explosion, Dec. 19, 1907.  One of the worst mining disasters in the United States.  The plaque is Located at the Olive Branch Cemetery, on PA Route 981 between PA Route 51 and Smithton, PA.
(Photo courtesy of "Focus Magazine", Tribune-Review, Greensburg, PA)

The Darr Mine was the site of one of the worst mining disasters in the nation. On December 19, 1907 a gas and coal dust explosion killed 239 miners, the real number of miners killed could be more. An inquiry into the disaster afterwards concluded, as was usually the case, that the Pittsburgh Coal Company was not at fault. The explosion was presumed to have occurred in an area that the Fire Boss had cordoned off, but a group of miners had entered anyway carrying open flame miners lamps.  This finding was not accepted by all involved:  a number of those investigating the disaster could not agree on exactly where the explosion occurred. Secondly, the company permitted the use of open flame miners lamps in the mine, a practice it abandoned after the horrible events of December, 1907, at the Darr Mine.

The Darr Mine Today

The Main Entry to the Darr Mine, as it appears today.  Most of the entry has collasped.  The mine rails that came out of the mine to the tipple were about 20 feet lower than the hole that is there now.
The boney dump from the Darr Mine along the Youghiogheny River, as seen from the Darr Mine location.  The white line, in the center of the photo, is the roadbed of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, now being used by the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail.
(Photo by Ray Washlaski, ca.2008.)

The original Mile marker 41, of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, along the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail.  The site was the location of the Darr Mine.  The Darr Mine boney dump can be seen in the background.  
(Photo by Ray Washlaski, ca.2008.)

Foundation ruins of what appears to be the Darr Mine Machine Shop.  A floor was added to the machine shop after the Darr Mine was closed, an it was used as a community building for Van Meter.  Dances and other events were held in the building.
(Photo by Ray Washlaski, ca.2008.)

Remains of what appears to be the powder shed for the Darr Mine.
(Photo by Ray Washlaski, ca.2008.)

BANNING NO. 3 MINE
Darr Mine name no longer used.
By ca.1910 the Pittsburgh Coal Company cleaned up the damage caused by the explosion in the Darr Mine and had resumed operations at the Darr Mine portal, though the company dropped the name Darr Mine and simply operated the former Darr Mine as another entry of the adjacent Banning No. 1 Mine, and Banning No. 3 Mine which were connected underground to the Darr Mine tunnels.

By ca.1913 Banning No. 3 Mine employed 350 persons.  That year its miners produced about 155,000 tons of coal.  Situated on the 72 inch-thick Pittsburgh coal seam, the slope-entry Banning No. 3 Mine was served by a tipple on the Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad.  There was also a tipple on the Jacobs Creek side of the Youghiogheny River, the east side, on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, connected to the Banning No. 3 Mine by a cable car running across the river.

Improvements made at the Banning No. 3 Mine ca.1913, include building 70 stoppings, 2 overcasts, 25 door frames and one pump house, all made of brick.  82 shelter holes were made for the miners.  the motor road was extended 2, 150 feet.  On Robinson coal crusher was installed. A retaining wall 207 feet long and 6 feet high was built.  Double blocks of 35 miners houses were erected in Van Meter for the miners.

In ca.1919 Banning No. 3 Mine employed 227 persons, though it was operated only a small part of the year.  Workers at Banning No. 3 Mine produced less than 30,000 tons of coal in 1919.  Soon thereafter, Pittsburgh Coal Company closed Banning No. 3 Mine and the old Darr Mine entry.

Pittsburgh Coal Company, a division of Consolidation Coal Company (CONSOL) after ca.1945, continued to Operate Banning No. 1 & No. 2 Mines nearby in Fayette County through the 1940's.

Banning No. 3 Mine was reopened ca.1950, and worked to remove the remaining coal reserves.

Most of the present coal company built miners houses in Van Meter were built for miners working the Banning No. 3 Mine, and not for the Darr Mine. The miners dwellings are two-story wood-frame double houses with horizontal siding.  Each has a gable roof with a central brick chimney.  Some of the houses have been greatly altered with various siding materials applied over the original siding.  Managers' row contains large T-shaped double houses oriented towards the river.  Each contains two-stories, a gable roof, a central brick chimney, and concrete-block foundations.
The original two-family houses that were built for the Banning No. 3 Mine, on one of the streets in Van Meter, PA.  Most have been converted to single-family homes.
(Photo by Ray Washlaski, ca.2008.)

The original two-family houses that were built for the Banning No. 3 Mine, on one of the streets in Van Meter, PA.  Most have been converted to single-family homes.
(Photo by Ray Washlaski, ca.2008.)

The original two-family houses that were built for the Banning No. 3 Mine, on one of the streets in Van Meter, PA.  Most have been converted to single-family homes.
(Photo by Ray Washlaski, ca.2008.)

Darr Mine Disaster, December 19, 1907,
Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Darr Mine Disaster Remembered,
Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Darr Mine Disaster,
Miracle of the Intercession of St. Nicholas,
Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA, USA

Coal Miners Memorial, Darr Mine,
Jacobs Creek / Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Coal Miners Memorial, Banning No. 3 Mine,
Van Meter, Rostraver Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

To Select another Index
to Westmoreland County Coal Mines
Click on the Larry cars for Index Page
or on a Letter below
Select another Index to Westmoreland County Mines


or
Go to Top of Page

Select another Index to the Coal Mines of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
[Click on a letter to take you to that Index]
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Return to the Main County Index for Southwestern Pennsylvania Coal Mines

Local History Sites
Links to other coal mining sites
Reference Sources for Southwestern Pennsylvania  Coal Mines The New Message Boards have not worked, Use our guestbook.  Email the Editor. Have information to add on Westmoreland County Coal Mines?
E-Mail the Editor
View the
"Old Miner's"
Guestbook
Let the Old Miner know you've been here.
Sign the
"Old Miner's"
Guestbook
Guestbook by GuestWorld

FastCounter by LinkExchange
Mercers, an Undertakers Business - Web Productions If you have additional information or pictures on the Coal Mines of Westmoreland County, PA
Contact: Ray Washlaski, Editor

Copyright 2008, All rights reserved, by Raymond A. Washlaski, Ryan P. Washlaski & The 20th Century Society of Western Pennsylvania.
Web site Design by "Mercers, an Undertakers" Web Design Company

[an error occurred while processing this directive]