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Coal Miners Memorial Foster Mines, Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA


History of the Edri Mines, Edri, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA


Coal Mines of Indiana Co., PA MAIN INDEX

Foster Mines,
Foster No. 1 Mine,
Foster No. 2 Mine,
Foster No. 3 Mine,

Foster,
Conemaugh Twp.,
Indiana County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

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

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated May 16, 2010

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Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
[A coal company patch town in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.]
[Located one-half mile west of Nowrytown, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA.]
[Located on the U.S.G.S. 7 1/2min. Quad. map: Avonmore, PA.]
[UTM: 17 E.632050 - N.4487800.]
[Only one or two houses remain in the coal mining patch town of Foster, and a large boney dump.]
See: Foster Mine, Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
       Foster No. 1 Mine, Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
       Foster No. 2 Mine, Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
       Foster No. 3 Mine, Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
See also: Edri Mines, Edri, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA

Foster Mine (ca.1882- ? ),
Located north of  Saltsburg, one-half mile west of Nowrytown, on Sulphur Run, at Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
[USGS Quad: Avonmore, PA   UTM: E. 17 632050 - N. 4487800.]
Owners:  (ca.1882-  ?  ), Foster Coal & Mining Company, Philadelphia, PA
              (ca.1884-  ?  ), R. B. Wigton & Son Company,

              (ca.1880's?- ? ), Fairbanks Coal Company, Saltsburg, PA
              (ca.1889-  ?  ), Saltsburg Coal Company, Saltsburg, PA

Foster No. 1 Mine (ca.1882- ? ),
Located one-half mile west of Nowrytown, on Sulphur Run, Foster Road, Village of Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
[USGS Quad: Avonmore, PA   UTM: E. 17 632050 - N. 4487800.]
Owners: (ca.1882-     ?   ), Foster Coal & Mining Company, Philadelphia, PA
              (ca.1884?-    ?  ), R. B. Wigton & Son Company,
              (ca.1880's ?- ? ), Fairbanks Coal Company, Saltsburg, PA
              (ca.1889?-   ?   ), Saltsburg Coal Company, Saltsburg, PA
              (ca.1903-    ?   ), Saltsburg Coal Mining Company, Leechburg, PA
              (ca.1919-    ?   ), Saltsburg Coal Mining Company, Leechburg, PA

Foster No. 2 Mine (ca.1890's ? - ? ),
Located one-half mile west of Nowrytown, on Sulphur Run, Foster Road, Village of Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
[USGS Quad: Avonmore, PA   UTM: E. 17 632050 - N. 4487800.]
Owners: (ca.1890's ? - ?  ), Saltsburg Coal Company, Saltsburg, PA
              (ca.1919-    ?    ), Saltsburg Coal Mining Company, Leechburg, PA

Foster No. 3 Mine (ca.1903 ? - ? ),
Located one half mile west of Nowrytown, on Sulphur Run, Foster Road, Village of Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana Co., PA
[USGS Quad: Avonmore, PA   UTM: E. 17 632050 - N. 4487800.]
[Foster No. 3 Mine idle in 1919.]
Owners: (ca.1890's ?- ? ), Saltsburg Coal Company, Saltsburg, PA

              (ca.1903-    ?  ), Saltsburg Coal Mining Company, Leechburg, PA
              (ca.1919-   ?   ), Saltsburg Coal Mining Company, Leechburg, PA

A portion of the U. S. G. S. Elders Ridge, PA 15 min. quad map showing the location of Foster, Conemaugh Township, Indiana Co., PA
(Map courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)

DESCRIPTION:
Three houses remained, ca.1990, to mark the site of the coal patch town of Foster in northern Conemaugh Township.  The homes, all double houses for two families, are weatherboarded frame structures constructed on concrete block foundations.  The houses are covered by side-gable roofs, and feature a heavy brick chimney at the center on the front slope.  Full-length shed porches extend across the front.  Most of the former company houses have been torn down, though some were relocated to nearby Nowrytown.  The mine complex itself has been completely dismantled, though a large boney dump (slate dump) remains to the southwest of the town along Sulphur Run.  The route of the abandoned railroad grade from Edri can still be followed at places.

HISTORY:
The Foster Coal & Mining Company, A Philadelphia Company, was chartered in ca.1882 with $300,000 in stock.  The company opened its mine one mile east of Coalport [Edri], on the Kiskiminitas River, in the Elders Ridge coal field in November of 1882.  A one-mile long narrow-gauge railroad and an incline plane along Sulphur Run carried the coal from the mine to the river and the Western Pennsylvania Railroad at Coalport, later named Edri, where a tipple was located.  The mine was equipped with electric drills, steam subways, and the dinky railroad.

The Foster Mine tipple and the Avonmore Coaling Station on the Western Pennsylvania Railroad were cut into the cliffs along the Kiskiminitas River at Coalport.  The Avonmore Coaling Station is on the left were the mine wagons pulled by a dinky engine entered the coaling station under a roof coveredway.  A one-mile long narrow-gauge railroad and an incline plane along Sulphur Run connected the mines at Foster to the Coaling Station and tipple.  The Avonmore Coaling Station used the coal directly from the mine wagons from the Foster Mine into the typical locomotive tender, between five and ten mine wagons would be used to fill a tender.
(Photo courtesy of the Richard D. Adams Collection.  And the book on the Conemaugh Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.)

The Foster Mines of the Saltsburg Coal Company served the Western Pennsylvania Railroad Coaling Station located along the Kiskiminitas River between Edri and Avonmore and was a major shipper of coal over the Conemaugh Division.  In August, 1917, this mine shipped 592 car loads of coal and received 11 car loads.  In its busier times the Foster Mines required a train crew to serve this mine alone, shipping up to 50 cars per day.
(Photo courtesy of the Richard D. Adams Collection.  And the book on the Conemaugh Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.)

The Dinky Engine crew that served the Avonmore Coaling Station from the Foster Mines.  William Moore was the long time engineman of  the Foster Mine locomotive.
(Photo courtesy of the Richard D. Adams Collection.  And the book on the Conemaugh Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.)

The town of Foster was built ca.1882 by the Foster Coal & Mining Company as coal company owned housing for the miners.

Foster Mine narrow Gauge Railroad:
Mr. P. Mienan has been awarded the contract for the graduation of the branch road to the Foster Coal Company's Mines.  The length of the road from the mine to the junction with the West Penn Railroad below Coalport, will be 7,000 feet.  The road will be narrow gauge, the tipple being at the Werst Penn, about a half mile below Coalport, and the coke ovens for coking the screenings, will be still further down the river.  The work of driving the entries is being pushed forward vigorously.  Coalport, which has been almost desolate since the abandonment of the canal, will soon revive and will be a livelier place than ever it was in its brightest days of old. [from "The Indiana Progress," Indiana, PA, Nov. 23, 1882.]

In ca.1884 the mine was being worked by the R. B. Wigton & Son Company.  By the late 1880's, the Foster Coal & Mining Company was acquired by the Fairbanks Coal Company.   Eventually, by 1889 the Saltsburg Coal Company took over the mining operations.

The Foster Coal & Mining Company had maintained the largest mining operations in the area until the arrival of the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal & Iron Company when they entered the Elders Ridge Coal Field with their mines at Iselin.

In the "1889 Report of the Inspectors of Mines of Pennsylvania" the Foster Mines are mentioned:
Mines Located on the West Penn Railroad.
Foster Mine is operated by the same company as the Fairbanks Mine, The Saltsburg Coal Company, Saltsburg, Indiana Co, PA.  It is under the same management as the Fairbanks Mine.  It is in excellent order both as regards to ventilation and drainage.  I measured 22,400 cubic feet of air passing which was well conducted to the innermost workings of the mine. (Inspectors of Mines,1890:326)

In ca.1889, the Foster Mines produced 7,255 tons of coal with 129 men, with 8 horses and mules, the mine worked 206 days.

In ca.1891, the Foster Mines produced over 47,000 tons of coal .  That year, the mines were the only ones in Indiana County that operated with steam equipment for haulage of the coal in the mines rather than horses and mules for haulage.

(In ca.1903, the following news story appeared in the "Indiana Democrat."
Railroad And Coal News
Revival of the Saltsburg Coal Co.

The properties of the Saltsburg Coal Company, consisting of two mines and about 1,500 acres of coal land in Westmoreland and Indiana counties, have been purchased by a snydicate, consisting of Capt. Alfred Hicks, president of the Allegheny Iron & Steel Company and a number of eastern capitalists.

The property is considered one of the most valuable along the line of the West Penn Division of the Pennsylvania.  The coal is of the Pittsburgh vein, and a tract of 6,000 acres in close proximity to the holdings of the Saltsburg company was recently sold for $200 per acre.  The syndicate probably paid about the same price and the deal represents about $350,000.

The Indiana county property consists of the Foster Mine, already opened, 40 houses, a locomotive and sidings at Edri station, while the Westmorelands county end of the purchase includes the famous Fairbanks Mine, two miles southeast of Slatsburg, and connected with the West Penn by a branch road.

The deal was consummated, it is said, by Brown Bros. & Co., and Capt. Hicks in now in Philadelphia conferring with his eastern associates in regard to immediate development of the property.  It is planned to install modern mining machinery, in ordfer to increase the already big output of the mines. Coal will be shipped by the new owners from the Foster Mine in about trwo weeks over the tracks and sidings of the Edri Coal Company. [from the "Indiana Democrat," Indiana, PA, Jan. 28, 1903.].)

In ca.1908, the Saltsburg Coal Company's Foster mines employed 377 men and produced over 230,000 tons of coal.  The nearby Edri Mines of the Saltsburg Coal Company subsidiary Edri Coal Company produced 41,000 tons of coal in 1908, with seventy-five men and boys.

By ca.1914, there were three drift mines, Foster No. 1 Mine, Foster No 2 Mine, and Foster No. 3 Mine, as well as the mines at Edri.  Total production of the Foster Mines now exceeded 421,000 tons of coal.

In ca.1919, the Foster No. 3 Mine was idle, and Foster No. 1 & No. 2 Mines produced 326,259 tons of coal, with 325 employees, the mines worked 194 days, and had one non-fatal acident.

In ca.1920, the Foster No. 1, No. 2  & No. 3 Mines produced 424,796 tons of coal, with 310 employees, the mines worked 273 days, with 4 non-fatal accidents.

In ca.1922 a black miner was killed during a miners strike and riot at the Foster Mines near Edri, Indiana County, on January 24th, 1922. Two Eastern European miners are arrested and later acquitted of murder charges.

Operations had ceased at the Foster Mines by the time of World War II.  Only a few company houses, the route of the abandoned narrow-gauge railroad, and several large bony piles mark the site of the former operations.

(History and description of Foster Mines, adapted with additional data from "Indiana County, Pennsylvania: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites, 1993,"  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 Foster Mines,
Foster, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana County, Pennsylvania"
"History of the Edri Mines,
Edri, Conemaugh Twp., Indiana County, Pennsylvania"
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