|Big Soldier (Soldier P.O.), Winslow Twp.,
Jefferson Co., PA
[A coal company patch town in Winslow Twp., Jefferson County, Pennsylvania.]
[Big Soldier , Jefferson Co., PA was also called Soldier Run, Jefferson Co., PA.]
[Located on the Falls Creek & Reynoldsville Railroad and the Jefferson County Electric Railway.]
See: Soldier No. 1 Mine & Coke Works, Soldier Run, Jefferson Co., PA
Soldier No. 2 Mine & Coke Works, Soldier Run, Jefferson Co., PA
Soldier No. 3 Mine, Soldier Run, Winslow Twp., , Jefferson Co., PA
Big Soldier Mine
Soldier No. 2 Mine & Coke Works
(ca.1898- ? ),
Soldier No. 3 Mine (ca.1898-
Soldier No. 4 Mine (ca.1904-
Soldier No. 5 Mine
|Portions of the U.S.G.S. Dubois, Pa 15min.
quad map ca.1924 of the area of the Soldier Mines, Winslow Township, Jefferson
(Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)
|The Big Soldier Mine was purchased by the
Rochester & Pittsburg Coal & Iron Company subsidary the Jefferson
& Clearfield Coal & Iron Company in ca.1896. At that time,
this property was billed locally as the "Largest bituminous coal mine in
(Courtesy of "Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company, The First One Hundred Years" by Eileen Mountjoy Cooper, ca.1982.)
As well as the Rochester Mine and Sandy Lick Mines, several other valuable properties came to the Rochester & Pittsburg Coal & Iron Company with the Bell, Lewis & Yates purchase by the Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company, a subidary of the Rochester & Pittsburg Coal & Iron Company. Among them was the Big Soldier Run Mine, also called simply "Big Soldier Mine," or "Soldier Mine." This mine opened on the northwest outcrop of the Reynoldsville basin on the east side of the west branch of Soldier Run.
The first opening at the site was begun in ca.1890. Within a few years, the Soldier Mine was known as the largest coal mine in the world and a picture of the mine was featured in several editions of turn-of-the-century schoolbooks. By ca.1895, Bell, Lewis & Yates had constructed a large loading tipple at the mine which was reputedly the first steel coal tipple in the United States. in ca.1896, Average daily shipment of coal from the Soldier Mine was estimated at 3,500 tons, or fully 1,000 tons per day more than were shipped from the Rochester Mine.
In addition to operations of the Rochester & Pittsburg Coal & Irojn Company, two other strings of coke ovens burned in Jefferson County: Big Soldier, on the west branch of Soldier Run, and those of the Cascade Coal and Coke Co. at Sykesville. Big Soldier Mine, owned until 1896 by the Bell, Lewis and Yates Mining Co., was opened in 1890. Within a few years, Big Soldier was known as the largest soft coal mine in the world, and photographs of the plant were featured in many turn-of-the-century schoolbooks. In 1896, the huge mine was sold to the Rochester & Pittsburg Coal & Iron Company as part of the assets of the Bell, Lewis and Yates Mining Co. The coking plant at Soldier consisted of 100 ovens, some dating to 1880 and at that time supplied with coking coal by Old Soldier mine, which was abandoned before 1900. During 1895, 19,677 tons of coke were make at Soldier and shipped on the Reynoldsville and Falls Creek Railroad.
Mrs. Lucia Christy, who spent most of her life in Rossiter and now lives in Punxsutawney, remembers the town and plant at Soldier as it appeared before World War I. "My dad came from central Italy," Christy says. "He arrived in 1896 and three years later sent for my mother and my sister and me. I was six years old when I came. It took three years for my father to save the $40 for my mother's passage; he borrowed and additional $40 for me and my sister. "I remember the leaving from Italy. We were 15 family units that left at the same time. We left at the beginning of November and were 18 days on the sea. "In New York, we were all brought into a big room and called forward one by one. The men read my mother's letters to determine where my father was. Then they gave us a package of food and put us on a train. At one point, they moved us into a boxcar where there was no water or any seats. We finally arrived at Reynoldsville on Nov. 20, 1899. That will be 80 years ago this month."
Christy remembers the first time she saw the coke ovens at Big Soldier. "The coke ovens were belching smoke and fire and my father pointed them out to me and my sister and teased us by saying, "That's hell over there, and if you don't behave, that's where you'll go, because that's where the devils live," she recalls. Christy also recalls an incident involving the coke workers at Big Soldier "When the United Mine Workers was first being organized, the coke workers didn't join at first. So one time a group of miners with pots and pans hid on the hill behind the ovens. When the coke workers started to pull the coke, the men in the woods started shouting and banging on the pots and pans. The coke pullers were so terrified that they ran away and left the coke in the ovens."
The company town at Big Soldier, called simply Soldier, was notable for the large number of privately owned stores located off company property. Among them were Joseph Patrella's grocery store, Joe Marinaro's grocery store, Nick Marinaro's butcher shop, Julia Abelman's clothing store, Carl Mascaro's shoe repair and barbershop, the Katzen shoe store, and Sam Katzan's watch repair shop. Carmen Marinaro, brother of the two storekeepers, was a notary public, and acted as banker a postmaster for the Italian families nearby.
Andrew Goulish, who still lives in Soldier, remembers the coke ovens there quite well, "I was thirteen years old when I went to work at the coke plant," he says. "I drove the mule and wagon that carried the mud that men used for bricking up for he oven doors. We called it 'lume.' I took the lume and dumped it into big holes in three different sections and the men came and got it themselves, as they needed it. That was around World War I and I made pretty good money at that job, about $4.50 per day." Andrew Goulish, usually called "Cot" by his friends, recalls that during periods of nationwide unemployment, hoboes often hopped off passing freights and took up residence in unused coke ovens. "We'd go down and visit them," he says, "just to hear the stores about all the exciting places they'd been. They would even climb up on top of the ovens to heat their soup, but, more often, people from Soldier would feel sorry for them and send down what food could be spared."
Three smaller mines, the Hamilton Mine, the Sprague Mine, and the Henry Mine completed the group near Soldier Mine and taken together, were known as the Reynoldsville Mines. The London Mine, a 1,600 ton per day operation, belonging to the Rochester group of mines, and was located on the Falls Creek Railroad about two miles west of DuBois. Another small mine, the Sherwood Mine, was also situated on the Reynoldsville & Falls Creek Railroad, about three miles northeast of Reynoldsville.
The purchase of these vast properties from the Bell, Lewis & Yates Mining Company categorized the Rochester & Pittsburg Coal & Iron Company and it's subsidaries as one of the largest mining corporations in the bituminous coal regions of the United States. But, within two years, the impetus for growth could no longer be contained within the boundaries of Jefferson County.
|The coal company store at the Big Soldier
(Courtesy of "Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company, The First One Hundred Years" by Eileen Mountjoy Cooper, ca.1982.)
|From the Mine Inspector of Pennsylvania
Report for 1906:
Jefferson & Clearfield Coal & Iron Company. Soldier Run Mines are the next largest mines. Soldier No. 1 and Soldier No 2 Mines are now connected by a tunnel with the Skyes Shaft Mine (now called Soldier No. 5 Mine), and the coal from the shaft is hauled through the tunnel to the tipple at Soldier. The shaft is ubed only for hoisting coal for the large boiler plant at that point and for the men living in the vicinity. The coal from Soldier No. 3 Mine also comes to the same tipple as the coal from Soldier Nos. 1, 2 and 5 Mines. These mines were found in good condition.
The production in 1906 of the Soldier No. 1, No. 2, No 3 & No. 5 Mines totaled 389,092 tons of coal and 98,077 tons of coke and employed 788 men and boys and 9 horses and mules. Soldier No. 4 Mine produced 88, 293 tons of coal and employed 108 men and boys and 10 horses and mules.
from "The DuBois Courier," Dubois, PA, Dec. 24, 1927
Repairing At Helvetia and Soldier
That the mines of this city are still potent factors in evident from the fact that work is under way in two of the shafts within ten miles of this city, that have been frequently mentioned in duscussions concerning the exhaustion of the coal supply in this vicinity. They are the Helvetia and Soldier shafts.
The R. & P. C. & I. Co., owners of the shafts, are making extensive repairs at both plants and, while officials declare the the present repairs do not mean that there will be an immediate resumptian upon the maxuum basis of these mines, it is apparent that the plants are each held high emough by the owners to be considered worth spending good sums upon in order to return them to general good repair.
At the Soldier mine, which has been idle more than four uears, crushed pillars are being removed and new timbers are being installed. The coal being removed is sold locally, although a car was loaded Wednesday and was shipped to market. The wear and tear of idleness in the mines has been breat and the work of repair will occupy a Considerable period. About eight men are now at work in the mine.
At Helvetia a crew of about 35 men is at work making repairs. This mine has also been practically idle the past four years. Numerous pillars have been crushed in the mine and as a result a considerable quantity of coal has been removed and placed on the market.
An official of the R. and P. Company stated yesterday that the coal market was such that it did not warrant placing any additional coal on the market, but that to prevent losing the Soldier and Helvetia mines altogether the present repair work was a necessity.
The Eleanora mine of the same company, idle the past three years, is not being repaired at this time but it is probable that the same procedure will be followed there within the next year, to prevent caves and the like that would make it impracticable to open the mine when the market warrants.
The coal at Soldier and Helvetia is of exceptional quality
and the supply in each mine, it is estimated, will last several years under
Memorial Soldier Mines & Coke Works,
Soldier Run, Winslow Twp., Jefferson Co., PA
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