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Coal Miners Memorial Duquesne Mine & Coke Works, Bradenville, Derry Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Coal Miners Memorial Bradenville Mine & Coke Works, Bradenville, Derry Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

History of the Bradenville Mine & Coke Works, Bradenville, Derry Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Coal Mines of Westmoreland Co., PA Main INDEX
Township Map of Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania
Map of R.R. Transportation System Westmoreland Co.
Duquesne Mine & Coke Works,
Bradenville /Snydertown,
Derry Township,
Westmoreland County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Duquesne Mine, Derry Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated April 22, 2010

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Duquesne Mine & Coke Works (ca.1900-   ?  ),
Located on a spur line from the Pennsylvania Railroad Mainline, northeast of the intersection of the Latrobe-Derry Road (Industrial Blvd.) and Rt 982, south of Bradenville / Snydertown, Derry Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
Owners: (ca.1900-  ?  ), Bessemer Coke Company, Pittsburgh, PA
              (ca.1904-  ?  ), Bessemer Coke Company, Pittsburgh, PA
              (ca.1917-  ?  ), Bradenville Coal & Coke Company,

A portion of the USGS Latrobe, PA Quad Map ca.1902, showing the Duquesne Mine & Coke Works and the surrounding mines and coke works.
(Map courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.

Early in the 1900's the Bessemer Coke Company expanded and added another mine and coke works to its Westmoreland County operations, which it called Duquesne.  The property was located south of Brandenville  / Snydertown, near Latrobe and the coke works established here was about twice the size of its Humphries Coke Works; however, the Duquesne and Humphries mines, both with slope entries, were comparable in size.

One of the remaining coal company houses built for the Duquesne Mine & Coke Works, on PA Rt.982, near the Brandenville Railroad underpass.
(Photo by Ray Washlaski.  Collection of the Editor.)

JANUARY 20, 1916

From the rememberances of Robert L. Jenkins, formerly of Bradenville.
About Saxman Run, the creek that runs through Bradenville.  I was very familiar with the little run, but I never knew it had a name.  This is the little run that comes from West Derry and runs through what used to be the Caldwell Farm, just below the Bradenville School.  When we were teenagers growing up, it was our swimming hole in the summer and our skating rink in the winter.

There was a coal mine on the south side of the Derry-Bradenville Road called the Duquesne Mine.  The mine needed a water supply for its coke ovens.  The mine built a small reservior on this run in the hollow on the south side of Bradenville. On Friday afternoon, January 20,1916, just after school has been dismissed for the week, four boys with a little wagon went out on the ice that had covered the reservior, and just as they got out to the deepest part, broke through the ice.  Their screams were heard by Charles Shanefelt, who lived just above the reservior.  He ran down to the reservior and jumped in to help them and all five were drowned.  Mr. Shanefelt was married, and left his wife and three small children, two boys and a girl.

I was about 11 at the time and I remember well the afternoon and evening.  The weather had been pretty cold for a while and the ice was pretty thick o the dm, but the weather had gotten milder for several days and the ice had softened up.  The boys'names were Minno Lizzi, a Meline boy, and two Spanilla boys.

This was probably the worst tragedy that ever happened to this small community. I can still see a big part of the residents surrounding the reservior that afternoon and evening, watching the rescuers trying to find the bodies of the victims.  The floodgates of the dam had to be blown out and the reservior drained before the bodies were recovered late that night.
Due to the efforts of Mr. Thomas Whiteman of the Latrobe Bulletin, Charles Shanefelt was awarded the Carnegie Hero Medal, a new home was built for the family, and other support was provided.

This all happened about 80 years ago, the little run is still running, and I am sure it had a big part in the later history of Bradenville.  This is the run that empties into the Loyalhanna Creek in First Ward Latrobe.
(Story courtesy of "The Independent," Latrobe, PA, Nov. 22,1995 and the Archives of the Latrobe Area Historical Society, Latrobe, PA)

Account of the death of John Siko
The Latrobe Bulletin, Latrobe, PA
Wednesday, October 8, 1819

One Killed, Three Hurt, When Gas from Breaking Main Is Sucked into Duquesne Mine, Resulting in Explosion

Escaping gas from a broken ten-inch main of the Peoples Natural Gas company, drawn into the Duquesne mine of the Bradenville Coal and Coke company, shortly before ten o’clock this morning, caused an explosion which resulted in the death of one miner, and the injury of three others.

The dead man is:
John Siko, aged 60 of Snydertown.

The injured, who were taken to Latrobe hospital, are:
David Watkins, aged 35, of Bradenville; fracture of the right leg, sustained either by falling, while running, or by the force of the explosion.

Joseph Dorn, age 38, of Latrobe; lacerations about head and face, not serious.

Lewis Boro, of Bradenville; cut and otherwise injured about the head; still unconscious at 1 o’clock.

Shortly after nine o’clock this morning, Mrs. Petroskey, whose husband has a small mine operating near the Duquesne mine, heard the escaping gas near her home, and at once notified the office of the Duquesne Mine of the danger.

In the Duquesne Mine at that time, were ninety-one men working. These were notified to get out of the mine at once, and all started pell-mell for the nearest exits. In the room where the men who were injured were working, were about fourteen men. This room was nearest the point in the mine where the leak had started in the gas main.

There are a number of fall-ins at various points near where the gas main passes, and the intake fan at the mine drew in a quantity of gas from the broken main, and this soon spread thru the rooms near where it secured entrance.

According to one miner who was in the room where the men were caught, there was about 5 minutes’ warning before the explosion of gas resulted, the gas continuing to accumulate in the meantime.

Mr. Siko, being an old man, was making slow progress after he received the warning to get out of the mine. According to one miner, he started back for his dinner bucket, against the warnings of his fellow workers, who urged him to hasten out and leave the dinner bucket go. He had been working in the mine since it started up some years ago, and being familiar with the workings, is supposed to have thought he could get out all right.

When found his body was partly covered with earth, and his coat was wrapped up around his head. He had been digging at a hole where he was trying to get out of the mine, and apparently was smothered by the rush of exploding gas. His body was not cut up, or marked with the exception of a slight cut in the forehead which might have resulted from his efforts to escape.

The three men who were injured were caught by the explosion while they were trying to make their escape. They are understood to have been alongside a trip of cars when the explosion occurred, and were hurled against the side of the mine. One miner stated that he thought one of them had stumbled in the dark when his lamp was blown out, and was injured in that way.

As soon as the report of the accident began to spread, crowds of friends and relatives rushed to the scene. Early reports were to the effect that many of the men had been killed or entombed in the explosion.

From all sections came frantic women, wives and mothers, rushing to hear what they feared was the worst. Before definite word could be gotten, from the mine, as to the extent of the damage caused by the explosion the relatives of the different men, frantic in their endeavors to learn the fate of their loved ones, rushed to and from, seeking word from someone who knew the truth. But they were quickly reassured, once the exact details could be learned.

Rescue parties soon entered the mine. Word had been sent at once to the gas company, and the main shaft was shut off, so that only a limited quantity of gas got in the mine. After the one explosion there was no further danger, and Superintendent Sessie and volunteer workers hurried into the mine.

The body of Siko was removed, and the three injured men were rushed to the Latrobe Hospital. None of the other miners were injured, all having made their escape. The force of the explosion was felt only in the one part of the mine, with any severity, and the workings are not supposed to have been damaged.

Miners who were in the mine told of their experiences in getting out. Practically all of them agreed that it was likely that Siko would have escaped if he had heeded the first warning. Most of the miners escaped without any discomfort whatever, from the effects of the explosion.

The dead miner lived in a neat little cottage along the brick road, near Snydertown. His family said today that he had been urged not to work in the mine, on account of his advanced age; and because of the fact that he was not forced to labor, his family had insisted that he remain at home, but his intimate association with mining and his love for the work kept him at it.

He was aged 60 years and is survived by his widow and the following children: Mrs. Mary Curtis, Joseph, John, Paul, Julius and Andrew, of Snydertown and vicinity, Mrs. Anna Gumbitter, of Derry township, and Mike of Wilpen. No funeral arrangements have as yet been made.

Officials and men spoke words of praise regarding the promptness of Mrs. Petroskey in notifying the company office of the presence of gas. As soon as she found the gas main had been broken, she realized that in all probability some of it must be finding its way into the Duquesne workings, and she at once hurried to give the warning.

Quickly the telephones leading (to) the mine were brought into use, and within ten minutes every man in the workings was notified of the danger.

Five minutes later the explosion occurred. Had Mrs. Petroskey not thought about the Duqesne mine, more lives might have been lost.

It is supposed that the explosion was caused by some one running back into No. 16 room with an open lamp.

Investigation proved that the mine had been little damaged by the explosion.

The Peoples Natural Gas Company had been fearful for some time that the falling in of the surface of the ground, due to the mining of the coal below, might cause a break in the main, and a lot of the pipe had been uncovered in readiness for such an emergency.

This morning there was a good-sized cave-in with the ground opening clear into the mine below. The main might have escaped, but as the ground slid down the side of the hill a good sized tree was carried against the pipe with such force as to crack the main.

Instantly the gas began escaping with a hiss that was heard for some distance away. It was this hissing that Mrs. Petroskey heard. Ordinarily the escaping gas would have gone off with the air, but the opening into the mine caused the cave-in, operating as an air-hole down which the draft of the fan drew the gas.

Miners were working near the cave-in, and they heard the gas escaping. They at once started out, but Siko insisted on going back, and it is assumed that it was his lamp that touched off the gas.

Men in the mine, near the explosion, said that it shook them back and forth, as though they were being shaken by a giant.
(from "The Latrobe Bulletin," Latrobe, PA, Wednesday, October 8, 1819)
(Newspaper article courtesy of Ann Myhre.)

"Coal Miners Memorial, Duquesne Mine & Coke Works,
Bradenville, Derry Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania"
"Coal Miners Memorial, Bradenville Mine & Coke Works,
Bradenville, Derry Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania"
"History of the Bradenville Mine & Coke Works,
Bradenville, Derry Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania"
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