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Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania

Digital Coal Research Library
The 20th Century Society of Western Pennsylvania
Links to:
Coal Miners Memorial, Ralph Mines, Ralph, German Twp., Fayette Co., PA


Baseball Teams of Ralph Mines, Ralph, German Twp., Fayette Co., PA


Coal Mines of Fayette Co., PA MAIN INDEX
Coal Mines of Allegheny Co., PA MAIN INDEX
Coal Mines of Indiana Co., PA MAIN INDEX
Coal Mines of Westmoreland Co., PA MAIN INDEX
Coal Mines of Washington Co., PA MAIN INDEX
Map of H.C.Frick Coke Co. Mines
Map of R.R. Transportation System Westmoreland Co.
Map of West Penn System Light Power Railway
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Ralph Mines,
Ralph,
German Twp., and Redstone Twp.,
Fayette County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

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

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated June 15, 2009

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Ralph Mine (ca.1909-1950's),
Located west of Rt.166 and south of PA Rt. SR 4002, 2 miles from Republic, Ralph, German Twp., Fayette Co., PA
[No coke works were located at the Ralph Mine, the coal was shipped directly underground to the Palmer Docks at Plamer on the Monongahela River.]
Owners: (ca.1909-1950's) H.C. Frick Coke Company, Scottdale, PA

A section of the 15min. Masontown quad map, showing Ralph on the border of German Township and Redstone Township.
(Map courtesy of the U. S. G. S., Washington, D.C.)

DESCRIPTION:
Ralph Mine & Coal Company Patch Town:

The coal patch town of Ralph, German Township, Fayette Co., Pennsylvania had about eighty-five houses remaining ca.1990, which comprised approximately 90 percent of its original coal company housing.  The town is laid out in a grid pattern that is roughly triangular in shape, defined by the hilly terrain.  Located north of the Ralph Mine, with the exception of two single-family dwellings, all the extant housing in Ralph is double-family housing.  Typical of the H.C. Frick Coke Company coal patch towns, the semi-detached dwellings' are gable-end.  Thses wood-frame houses are four-bay on the ground level and two-bay upstairs;  they have full, shed-roof, front porches and two interior brick chimneys.

The two single-family houses were probably built for higher-ranking mine officials.  Built in the southern corner of the town, they are also two stories high and of wood-frame construction.  T-shaped in plan, they have intersecting gable toofs.  The superintendent's house and the company store manager's house, which once stood at the northest end of the town are not extant.

A number buildings associated with the Ralph Mine are also extant in Ralph.  They are located directly east of the coal company patch town and are mostly overgrown with poison ivy, although they appear to be in fairly good condition otherwise.  A large, common-bond red brick stable building stands at the east edge of the mine building complex.  The stable is a one-and-one-half story structure, its tall, ground-level windows have been infilled with brick, although the triple voussoirs remain above their arched tops; circular window openings are extant, centered in the upper portion of each gable end.  There is an intersecting single-story ell addition on the the south side and corrugated metal covers he entire roof.

Ralph Mine Stable Building, ca.1990.
(Photo by Jet Lowe, courtesy of the Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record, U.S. Department of the Interior, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)

A small, hipped-roof, common-bond red brick pump house is also extant.  Its original doorway has been replaced and only half of its double voussoir remains. Attached to the north side of the pump house is another common-bond red brick, gable-roofed building, it was probably used as the fan house.

The lamphouse, which appears to have been converted to a garage, is also of common-bond red brick construction.  Its corrugated-metal gable roof has a centrally-located round metal ventilator;  it also has one brick chimney set in the center of one side.

North of these mine buildings is the one-and-one-half story comon-bond red brick community hall.  It has a corrugated-metal gable roof and one round metal chimney.

The Union Supply Company Store building once stood south of this cluster of mine buildings.

HISTORY:
Ralph Mine & Coal Company Patch Town:

Ralph, a coal company patch town, was built by the H.C. Frick Coke Company to house the miners and their families that worked at the Ralph Mine, and was completed in ca.1909.  The Ralph Mine had 1,978 acres of assigned coal which was accessed by a 578 foot deep mine shaft.  The Ralph Mine did not have a coke works associated with it, but the coal mined at Ralph was shipped directly to the Palmer Coal Dock on the Monongahela River via an underground belt conveyor system.

Thirty-three double company houses and six single houses were constructed the year the Ralph Mine opened, ca.1909.  In ca.1923 the H. C. Frick Coke Company built an additional fifty-seven double houses in Ralph.  Like most H.C. Frick Coke Company towns, the community and mine were serviced by the Trotter Water Company, another H. C. Frick Company.

By ca.1930 the company had 215 men and boys employed, who mined 65,936 tons of coal that year.

Palmer Mine & Coal Docks

The Ralph Mine was linked underground, to the Filbert Mine vertical mine shaft, were U.S. Steel installed a rotary mine car dumper in ca.1927 to serve the conveyor system that transported the coal to the coal loading docks at the Palmer Mine; the dumper was removed in 1957 when U.S. Steel ceased operating the rotary mine car dump and the coal loading dock at Palmer on the Monongahela River.

The Palmer Coal Docks, built in 1927 on the Monongahela River, was linked to the development at the Filbert Mine of a large underground rotary mine car dumper.  Daily coal production capability was 5,000 tons of coal in ca.1928. The rotary mine car dumper had a capacity of thirty-two mine cars and served not only the Filbert Mine, but was also linked underground with the mines at Lambert, Footedale, Buffington, and Ralph.  Coal was transported underground from these mines to the rotary mine car dumper, where it was into hoppers and then deposited on a conveyor, and carried by underground conveyor nearly 2.9 miles to the Palmer Coal Docks.  This system remained in operation until June, 1957, when U.S. Steel closed the mines and Palmer Coal Docks.  Nothing remains of the Palmer Coal Docks, reportedly once the largest river coal docks in the United State.

H.C. Frick Coke Company shut down and abandoned the Ralph Mine sometime in the early 1950's.  The Majority of the Ralph Mine housing was sold to a Cleveland real estate speculator, John W. Galbreath, in the early 1950's.

(History and description of Ralph, adapted with additional information from "Fayette County, Pennsylvania: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites, 1990,"  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.)

"Coal Miners Memorial, Ralph Mines,
Ralph, German Twp., Fayette County, Pennsylvania"
"Baseball Teams of Ralph Mines,
Ralph, German Twp., Fayette County, Pennsylvania"

Support the Coal & Coke Heritage Center, a non-profit research center and museum.
Want to know more about the women who lived in the coal patch towns?  You need this book.  One of the few studies done on the women of the coal & coke era.
Common lives of Uncommon Strength:
The Women of the Coal & Coke Era of Southwestern Pennsylvania 1880-1970
Complied, written and edited by: Evelyn A. Hovanec, PhD   227 pages.
Voices of the women tell unique stores of the coal and coke era, plus vintage photographs, documents, maps, and newspaper articles.  Hardcover $35.00  Soft cover $25.00  Add $5.00 shipping / handling.
Send Check or money order to:
Coal & Coke Heritage Center, Penn State University Fayette Campus
P.O. Box 519, Uniontown, PA  15401
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