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Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania

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The 20th Century Society of Western Pennsylvania
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Coal Miners Memorial Dorothy Mine & Coke Works, Dorothy, Unity Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Coal Mines of Westmoreland Co., PA Main INDEX
Township Map of Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania
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Dorothy Mine & Coke Works,
H.C. Frick Coke Company,
Unity Township,
Westmoreland County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Dorothy Mine, Unity 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 21, 2009

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Dorothy Mine & Coke Works (ca.1899-1923),
Located on the Unity Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, along PA Rt. 981, at Dorothy, Unity Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

[Dorothy Coke Works contained 230 bee-hive coke ovens ca.1901.]
Owners: (ca.1899-1890), Shoenberger Steel Company, Etna, Pittsburgh, PA
              (ca.1890-1903), American Coke Company, Pittsburgh, PA
              (ca.1903-1926), H.C. Frick Coke Company, Scottdale, PA

Map of Dorothy, ca.1902.  A portion of the ca.1902 U.S.G.S. 15min. Latrobe, Pennsylvania Quad. map showing the coal patch town of Dorothy, the mine and coke works, and the surrounding coal patch towns.
(Map courtesy of United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)

A plan map of the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works and the Dorothy Patch done for the H.C. Frick Coke Company in ca.1959, from the Frick Insurance Maps from 1909 - 1938.
(Map courtesy of the "Coal & Coke Heritage Center," Penn State University, Fayette Campus, Uniontown, PA.)

Nothing survives of the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works.  The works were located on the east side of the old PA Route 981.  The bee-hive coke ovens stood along the hillside, close to the old Pa Route 981, and the Dorothy Mine shaft was located about 300 feet to the east.  Located not far from the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works was the Monastery Mine & Coke Works, its bee-hive coke ovens were located a short distance from the Dorothy Mine.  Nothing survives, except for a few remnants of the coke ovens along Monastery Run and the Unity Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The coal company patch town of Dorothy still contained ca.1994 about twenty-five coal company-built houses erected between ca.1899 and ca.1910, several house have burned down since 1994.  One row of the coal company house was destroyed when PA Rt. 981 was straighted as it was rebuilt a number of years ago.  These coal company dwellings are two-story wood-frame double-family houses with salt-box roofs, brick chimneys, and rubble stone foundations.  The main entrances run parallel to the gable ridge.  As with many of the miners' houses in the region, the coal company owned houses in the Dorothy patch were sold off to private owners by the H.C. Frick Coke Company in the mid 1930's and many were converted into single-family residences.  Most of the houses have been altered with porch enclosures and new siding applied over the original clapboard wood siding.  Several of the houses in Dorothy, retain their late-nineteenth century appearance.

The coal patch town of Dorothy as it looked in the fall of ca.2002.
(Photo by Raymond A. Washlaski,ca.2002.)

Undated photo of Dorothy Patch, possibly taken for H.C. Frick Coke Company.
(Photo courtesy of Marianne Watton.)

Undated photo of the Latrobe - St. Vincent Road near the coal patch town of Dorothy.
(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Collections, Washington, D.C.)

The Shoenberger Steel Company of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania opened the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works in ca.1899.  Located south west of Latrobe and served by the Unity Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.  The Dorothy Mine was a shaft mine that extracted coal from the 84 inch to 90 inch thick Pittsburg Coal seam.  Coal from the mine was coked at the adjacent Dorothy Coke Works containing 230 bee-hive coke ovens.  The Shoenberger Steel Company probably constructed most of the coal company patch town of Dorothy to house the miners and coke workers.

About one year after operations began at the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works ca.1899, the American Coke Company, of Latrobe, PA acquired the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works property from the Shoenberger Steel Company.

In the "1900 Report of the Bureau of Mines of Pennsylvania," Dorothy Mine is described as a new shaft mine to the Pittsburg coal seam.  The inside workings were in good condition, both in regard to ventilation and drainage.  The outside improvements consist of a number of coke ovens, together with the necessary railroad sidings and the latest improved machinery for the operation of the entire plant.

In ca.1900 the Dorothy Mine produced 146,011 tons of coal, the Dorothy Coke Works produced 59,027 tons of coke.  The works employed 280 men and boys in the mine and at the coke works.  There were 20 mules used to haul the coal from the mine.

From the "Report of the Bureau of Mines of Pennsylvania for 1901."

A Disastrous Fire in the Dorothy Mine, April 28, 1901.

A disastrous fire occurred in this mine, Sunday, April 28, 1901, which resulted in the destruction of the shaff timbers, head frame, coal bins, engine and boiler houses, and the loss of twenty-three head of stock which were in the mine at the time.

The fire originated in the pump house, located about twenty feet away from the shaft bottom.  Careful inquiry failed to reveal the cause of the fire.  The mine was worked with open lights and there is no doubt that it was caused by one of them.

The mine had been working day and night, and the sump which was located under the cages had become filled to such an extent that it was found necessary to clean it.

A. J. McNally, the mine foreman, was in the mine and had charge of the work.

About 11 o'clock A.M., Mr. McNally, the mine foreman, and P.J. McNally, the day pumper, went to dinner, leaving the other men in the mine.  They had not been out more than a half hour when - McNally heard the whistle blow.  This attracted his attention and he immediately returned to the shaft and found smoke issuing therefrom.  He at once descended the shaft and with the assistance of the others began the battle with the flames, which soon spread to the stables.  The water supply was somewhat limited and they were unable to overcome the flames and were compelled to retreat by way of the air shaft.  The flames at once ascended the shaft, setting fire to the head frame and coal bins, and spread to the engine and boiler houses.  Every effort was made to save the buildings but the water supply was not sufficient.

About 3:30 P.M., the head frame and coal bins, containing about thirty tons of coal, fell, a mass of ruins. A considerable portion of the coal went down the shaft, which increased the flames below.

The air shaft was closed up in order to save it and cut off the air from the fire.  On the following day, a consultation was held by the officials and it was decided to flood the mine, and as soon as the debris around the burning shaft was removed it was sealed up.  Three boilers and six pumps were placed at the Loyalhanna Creek, which is about sixteen feet away from the shafts, two steam lines were laid from the boilers near the shaft to the pumps at the creek, and as the three boilers would not make sufficient steam to operate all the pumps, a six and a ten inch pipe line were laid to each shaft and the pumps commenced pumping water into the mine.  It required only four days to do this work.  On May 3, the pumps were stopped and the burning shaft, having been considerably cooled off, was opened.  The ventilating fan was started and a party descended the air shaft and commenced to fight the fire.  This was kept up during the night and a part of the following day.  At one time it was thought the attempt would be successful, but owing to the entries near the shaft caving in, which cut off the air current and allowed the smoke from the fire to spread in the direction of the air shaft, those engaged in fighting the fire were compelled to retreat, and the shafts were again sealed up and the pumps started.  Again on May 9, the shafts were opened, the pumps stopped, and another attempt was made to fight the fire, but without success.

The shafts were again closed, the pumps put in operation and kept running until the water raised in the shaft about forty feet.  This required about six weeks.  The water was allowed to stand a short time in the shaft, after which a temporary head frame, which had been erected, was put in use and pumps lowered down the shaft and work was commenced to remove the water from the mine, which required about sixty days.

It was found necessary to retimber the shaft the entire depth.  The excessive heat from the fire caused the entries to cave-in for some distance from the shaft bottom, and in many places the sides of the coal pillars were coked to a depth of eighteen inches.

These entries have been cleared up and secured by timber and masonry where necessary.  On the side of the shaft where the loaded wagons are handled, a solid arch of masonry, 340 feet long and fourteen feet high, has been built, and on the side where the empty wagons are handled, one 100 feet long and fourteen feet high has been built.

The mine resumed operations about the middle of September, and locked safety lamps have been used since the fire.

The officials deserve great credit for the manner in which the work was performed, from the fact that not a single accident occurred.

The mine was found in good condition, both in regard to ventilation and drainage.

(from the "Report of the Bureau of Mines of Pennsylvania for 1901.")

The H.C. Frick Coke Company in turn acquired the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works in April, 1903,  The H.C. Frick Coke Company probably constructed additional miners houses in the coal company owned Dorothy patch town.

By ca.1906 the Dorothy Mine produced over 147,000 tons of coal and the Dorothy Coke Works produced 91,500 tons of coke.  In 1906 the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works employed 281 miners and coke workers.

By 1914 one steam locomotive, eight compressed air locomotives, six return tubular boilers and two pumps were being used at the Dorothy Mine, and a work force of 220 miners and coke workers produced nearly 185,000 tons of coal.

An undated H.C. Frick Coke Company photo of the miners houses, gardens and outhouses in the Dorothy patch.
(Photo courtesy of the Coke & Coke Heritage Center, Penn State University Fayette Campus, Uniontown, PA)

The H. C. Frick Coke Company closed the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works in ca.1926 and abandoned the works.  The mine headframe remained standing through the early 1930's; however, the mine structures and coke works were subsequently demolished.

The residence of Charles McKenna Lynch, an executive of the H.C. Frick Coke Company, Stands near the site of the Dorothy Mine and Coke Works.  Clay Lynch, brother of Charles McKenna Lynch, was president of the H.C. Frick Coke Company.

(History and description of the Dorothy Mine & Coke Works, with additional data and pictures adapted from "Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites, 1994,"  America's Industrial Heitage Project, National Park Service, Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record, U.S. Department of the Interior, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)

Put off Dynamite Cap.  Now Minus Two Fingers

Think that a dynamite cap which he had found was a fire cracker, an unsophisticated little seven year old foreigner, with a unpronounceable name, living in house No. 55 at Dorothy, decided that he would have an impromptu celebration, early last evening.  So he touched off the cap with a lighted match.  The result was that he lost the thumb and the first finger on his left hand, while several other foreign children who were on hands to witness the going-off of the fire cracker were pretty well filled up with bits of dynamite, although they escaped serious injury.  

The child had found the dynamite cap on the porch of his home, some one having carelessly fropped it.  The match with which to touch off the fuse was forth coming, and the "celebration" followed.

Dr. Pyle was called at once and he secured Dr. Thomas to help him with the operation which was found to be necessary, the thumb and the first finger between which the child had held the match, having been shattered and burn to shreds.  The bite of dynamite were picked out from beneath the skin of the other children, and it was freely admitted that taken all together the children had gotten off luckily.
(from "Latrobe Bulletin," Latrobe, Pa, July 31, 1907.)

The "Daily Courier," Latrobe, PA of December 26, 1907 carried this story about a miner at the Dorothy Mine.
Dorothy Man Blows Himself Up in Celebration.
Greensburg, Pa - Dec. 26.  Paul Carll, who is employed at Dorothy works, near Latrobe, was blown to atoms Tuesday at midnight while trying to celebrate the advent of Christmas.
He ran a wire from a telephone battery in a foreign boarding house to some dynamite in a can.  The explosive was prematurely set off.

(from "The Daily Courier," Latrobe, PA, Dec. 26, 1907)

"Coal Miners Memorial, Dorothy Mine & Coke Works,
Dorothy, Unity Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania"
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