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Coal Miners Memorial Cascade Mine & Coke Works, Sykesville, Winslow Twp., Jefferson Co., PA

Coal Mines of Jefferson Co., PA Main INDEX

Cascade Mine & Coke Works,
Winslow Twp.,
Jefferson County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Cascade Mine, Wishaw, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated July 20, 2010

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Cascade Shaft Mine
(Cascade Mine & Coke Works)
Located on the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad, and the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway, and the Jefferson County Electric Railway, on the southern side of Sykesville, Jefferson Co., PA
[Cascade Coke Works contained 200 bee-hive coke ovens ca.1905 & ca.1906.]
[Disasters: An explosion of gas and dust in the Cascade Mine on July 15, 1911 killed 21 miners.]
Owners: (ca.1903-  ?   ), Rogers & Brown Company,
                                    [Leasors from the Powhattan Coal & Coke Company.]
             (ca.1904-  ?   ), Cascade Coal & Coke Company, Sykesville, PA
             (ca.1905-  ?   ), Cascade Coal & Coke Company, Sykesville, PA
             (           -1939), Buffalo & Susquehanna Coal Company,

The map is a portion of the U.S.G.S. 15 min. DuBois quad map ca.1924ed. showing Sykesville and the Cascade Mine & Coke Works, on the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railroad.
(Map courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)

A Sanborn Insurance Map of the Cascade Coal & Coke Company Plant at Sykesville, PA

In 1904 the Powhattan Coal and Coke Co. opened a new mine at Sykesville. One year later, the fledgling company sold out to a group of New York investors who changed the name to the Cascade Coal and Coke Co. At that time, under the direction of C.C. Gadd, 100 coke ovens were built. Two years later, a local paper noted that "they are working regularly at the Cascade mines. A good grade of coke is being make there, and business is brisk."

from "The New York Times," New York, NY, July 17, 1911
Sykesville, PA Mine Explosion, July 1911


Dubois, Penn., July 16.

Twenty-one miners were killed in an explosion in the shaft of the Cascade Coal and Coke Company's mine at Sykesville, nine miles from here, last night. The explosion occurred at 9:30, but it was after midnight before the extent of the disaster was known. All of the dead except three are foreigners. The explosion was slight and little damage was done in the mine, but the deadly afterdamp caused the loss of life.

Three sets of brothers and a father and son are numbered among the dead. George and John Heck and Nick Pavelick and his 15-year-old son were found by the rescuers locked in each other's arms. None of the bodies were mutilated and only a few showed any burns.

Eleven of the men in one heading had apparently made ready to escape, for they carried their dinner pails and were headed for the opening.

The first intimation of the explosion at the surface was when the safety door on the fan blew open and the machinery began to run wild. It was surmised there was trouble below, but it was hours before rescuers could enter the mine. It took some time to get to the place of the accident, a mile and a half from the opening, because the rescuers were obliged to carry exygen with them.

All but four of the bodies were brought to the foot of the shaft to-day, and were kept there until the others were recovered. Four bodies were buried beneath a cave-in at a heading, and were not recovered until late to-day. The State Police from Punxsutawney were called to police the vicinity of the shaft.

Neither mine officials nor Mine Inspectors are able to assign a cause for the explosion, as there are no survivors from which to gain an explanation, but it is the general belief that some of the men drilled into a pocket of gas. The shaft is known as a non-gaseous one, and Fire Boss John Brown reports he was through the heading where the explosion occurred an hour before and found no trace of gas.

Six men working in another heading of the mine at the time of the accident knew nothing of the explosion until the compressed air stopped their drills. They realized something had happened, but did not know the nature of it until they met a party of rescuers coming for them.

When the rescue car of the Bureau of Mines arrived here it was not needed, as all the men were dead and the air in the mine had been cleared.

[from "The New York Times," New York, NY, July 17, 1911.]
(Newspaper article courtesy of Stu Beitler.)

Ed Murphy, who operated a service station south of Sykesville, recalls, "The ovens here at Cascade Coal and Coke were shut down before World War II, and no coke was made here after that except once, in 1950. "I was still in school then, but I was working, and I got a job here at the old ovens on the property of Kovalchick Salvage. At that time, some fellows wanted to see if coke could be made again, so they repaired four old ovens with new firebrick, and converted them so that they could be machine-drawn. "The men involved sent all the way to Uniontown for an experienced coke burner to teach us all how to make coke, and we did make a little coke from coal brought over from Cramer. But there were union problems, and marketing problems, and they gave up and shut them down. That was the last coke ever make in Jefferson County."

The Cascade Mine after the July 15, 1911 Mine disaster.  On July 15, 1911, an open lamp flame ignited gases in the Cascade Mine, at Sykesville, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania.  The shattering explosion killed twenty-one of the twenty-seven miners working that night, the youngest fifteen, the oldest his forty-five years old father.  The six men charged with inquiring into the cause of the accident were "unable to place any responsibility."  Common in all mining disasters of the time.
(Photo courtesy of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Brockway, PA.)

Another view of the Cascade Mine after the 1911 Disaster.
(Courtesy of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Brockway, PA.)

Simple Ceremonies Mark Closing of
"Worn-Out " Mine at Sykesville

Simple but sentimental ceremonies marked the closing of the Cascade Mine at Sykesville after a nearly continous "run" of 36 years.  The end of this operation came as distinct shock to the town and section but not as a surprise for it was generally known that every available ton of coal in the "Pocket" embraced by the operation had been mined.

Hemmed in by rock faults on all sides, the original pocket of coal which embraced some ten billions of tons, was taken out and the plant kept in operation as long as it was possible to maintain production.  About 30 men were employed at the plant when it ceased work.  At the peak of its production, 500 men were on the payroll.  Millions of dollars have come into the community in the pay emvelops during the 36 year period the mine operated as Sykesville's "backbone" industry.  However, it is believed that the men losing jobs through the closing of this plant will be re-employed in several nearby mines and that the actual population of the town will not be materially lessened.

The Plant was originally opened by the Rogers and Brown Firm, leasors from the Powhattan Coal & Coke Company, and the plant was named the Cascade Mine.  For years nearly all of the output was used for the manufacture of coke at the company's huge coke plant near the mine.  Eleven years ago the mine was taken over by the Buffalo and Susquehanna Coal & Coke Company, which firm has operated it ever since, concentrating on the production and marketing of coal, the coke ovens having been abandoned a dozen years ago.

The coal produced from this plant was rated highly in the markets of the world and found ready sale.  It was known as one of the best pockets in the region.  In recent ywars the plant included facilities for grading and shipping every type of bituminous coal desired by the trade.  The main office of the firm is located at Sykesville and is to continue functioning there for the time being.
[Article from a Sykesville or DuBois, PA newspaper.]

The Cascade Mine when it was closed and abandoned ca.1939.
{Courtesy of the Sykesville or DuBois newspaper.)

The last cage of men of the last crew to load commercial coal at the Cascade Mine as they reached the landing on the closing night.
(Courtesy of the Sykesville or DuBois Newspaper.)

J. E. Long, hoisting engineer, who raised the last car to the surface.  Mr. Long also hoisted the first car 36 years ago and has been on the same job ever since.
(Courtesy of the Sykesville or DuBois Newspaper.)

Four employees who have been at the mine since its first year and who were among the employees at the close of operations.  Front row, left to right"  W. M. Zimmerman, who dug the first shoelful of earth when the shaft was sunk in 1902 and who has been with the firm continuously since that time as cager at the bottom of the shaft;  G. E. Rupert, hoisting engineerr for 36 years.   Back:  W. A. Rishel , machinist at the plant 36 years and J. E. Long, who raised the first and last cars of coal.
(Courtesy of the Sykesville or DuBois Newspaper.)

The remaining buildings of the Cascade Mine, Skyesville, Jefferson Co., PA, ca.2005.
(Courtesy of the Chris Dellamea,
The remaining section of the Power House building of the Cascade Mine, Sykesville, PA, in ruins.  The pile of brick to the right was the building next to it that was just torn down.
(Courtesy of the Sanko Family History.)
One of the few remaining buildings at the Cascade Mine, Skyesville, PA, this building possibly served as the machine shop.
(Courtery of the Sanko Family history.)

Office Building at the Cascade Mine, Skyesville, PA, ca.2010. (Photo by Raymond A. Washlaski, ca.2010.)

Office Building Cascade Mine, Skyesville, PA, ca.2010  (Photo by Raymond A. Washlaski, ca.2010.)

Power House Building Cascade Mine, Skyesville, PA, ca.2010.  The section of the building that was demolished was the boiler house.  (Photo by Raymod A. Washlaski, ca.2010.)

The remains of the Boiler House building, that was attached to the Power House, ca.2010, Cascade Mine, Skyesville, PA   The buildig in the background was possibly the Machine Shop for the mine. (Photo by Raymond A. Washlaski, ca.2010.)

Another view of the Power House Building, Cascade Mine, Skyesville, PA, ca.2010.  (Photo by Raymond A. Washlaski, ca.2010.)

Coal Miners Memorial Cascade Mine & Coke Works,
Sykesville, Winslow Twp., Jefferson Co., PA

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