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Coal Miners Memorial, Ocean No. 1 Mine, Herminie, Sewickley Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

History of the Ocean No. 2 Mine, Herminie No. 2, Sewickley Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Coal Miners Memorial, Ocean No. 2 Mine, Herminie No. 2, Sewickley Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

Coal Mines of Westmoreland Co., PA INDEX
Township Map of Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania
Map of R.R. Transportation System Westmoreland Co.
Ocean No. 1 Mine,
(Herminie Mine),

Ocean Coal Company,
Sewickley Township,
Westmoreland County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams at the Ocean No. 1 Mine (Herminie Mine), Herminie, East Huntingdon & Sewickley Townships, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated Jan. 12, 2010

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Ocean Coal Company, Philadelphia, PA & Windber, PA
[a subsidiary of Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, Philadelphia & Windber, PA]

Ocean No. 1 Mine
(Herminie Mine)
Located on the Hempfield Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, between 3rd and 5th Streets, north of Church Street, Herminie, Sewickley Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
[Ocean No. 1 Mine was also referred to as the Herminie Mine.]
Owners: (ca.1893- ? ) Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, Philadelphia , PA & Windber, PA
              (ca.1894-1938) Ocean Coal Company, Philadelphia PA
                                [a subsidiary of Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, Philadelphia, PA & Windber, PA]

Map of Herminie, Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County , Pennsylvania ca.1904
Herminie, Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County, PA, from the U.S.G.S. 15min. Greensburg, PA Quad. of the 1904 Topographic Survey.
(Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)

Map of Herminie, PA ca.1953
Map Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Interior Geological Survey, Irwin Quadrangle, Pennsylvania - Westmoreland Co., 7.5 Minute Series (Topographic) SW/4 Greensburg 15' Quadrangle, ca.1953, revised ca.1969.
(Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C.)

The mining complex at Herminie is located between the Little Sewickley Creek and Church Street. Surviving structures include the supply house, the powerhouse, the lamp house, and the mule barn.  The boiler house, engine house, tipple, a garage, sand house, two water towers and other smaller associated buildings have been demolished,  The supply house is a common-bond red-brick building.  A tall one-story structure, it measures 84' x 42' and contains a gable roof, covered with slate, riveted steel roof trusses, supported on brick pilasters, and a stone foundation covered with a cement mortar.  It features arched windows with double brick voussiors and concrete sills, paired six-over-six-lights double-hung sash windows, double and single doors with fan lights, and decorative brick work under the eaves and along the base.  The powerhouse also contains common-bond red-brick walls (painted yellow), a gable roof covered with asphalt, and riveted steel roof trusses.  The building rests on a concrete foundation.  The lamp house contains brick walls; however, they have been covered with a cement mortar.  The one-story building measures 34' x 24' and contains a hipped roof, covered with slate.  The mule barn is also a common-bond red-brick building.  It measures 65' x 32' and is a tall one-story structure.  It is topped by a gable roof covered with asphale.  The stone foundation is covered with mortar.  A date stone on the east facade proclaims the date of construction, "1918".  On the north side of the adjacent railroad tracks, the car shop, railroad depot, rock hoist house, and rock dump trestle once stood. They have all been demolished.

Auel Industries ca.1994, manufactures model trains in the supply house.  In operation since ca.1938, Auel produced models for many important museums, including the Henry Ford Museum.  The extensively remodeled powerhouse is occupied by the R.D. Hopkins Machine Company.  An automobile parts store conducts business in the mule barn and uses the lamp house for storage.  No machinery is extant with the exception of the drill presses, lathes, and other tools used by Auel Industries. These buildings, however, constitute one of the more intact mining complexes in Westmoreland County.

DESCRIPTION: Herminie, The Town:
The town of Herminie retains fifty-five company-built houses.  These are situated in three single rows bounded by Sewickley and Church streets, and First and Seventh streets, as well as one semi-circle of ten houses east of Church Street.  In addition the town retains its company store, its old post office, and its coal company jail.  Herminie also features St. Mary's Catholic Church.  The company-built houses include a boss's row on Church Street, which includes the Superintendent's House.  Located on the corner of Fifth and Church streets this dwelling is a large two-story L-shaped house with clapboard siding, a gable roof with a brick chimney, and a coursed rubble-stone foundation.

The miners' dwellings in Herminie include fifty double houses.  These are typical of double houses constructed in the region's mining towns in the early 1900's.  In addition, five single-family houses constituting boss's row, remain.  These two-story dwellings contain gable roofs, double brick chimneys, rubble-stone and tile foundations; and six-over-six-light double-hung sash windows.

The Eureka Store. the coal company store, is on Sewickley Avenue; it was constructed ca.1910.  This two-story building contains strecter-bond yellow-brick walls and measures 108ft. x 44ft..  It features a hipped roof with a pedimented gable above its main facade.  The building has been altered with a new storefront and infilled windows.  It now serves as a grocery store.  The post office is also a strecher-bond yellow-brick building.  The one-story structure measures 30ft. x 19ft. and contains a flat roof and is now occupied by a barber shop.

The Ocean Coal Company Herminie Jail
The Ocean Coal Company jail is located on an alley off Sewickley Avenue.  It is a small one-story brick building with a hip roof.
(Photo courtesy of John J. Wilson's "History of Sewickley Township," 1962.)
Herminie Jail
The coal company built this building as a jail in Herminie.
(Photo courtesy of the Tribune-Review, Greensburg, PA)

St. Mary's Catholic Church features a large copper dome.  The original Methodist Episcopal Church has been replaced with a new building.

A playground on Church Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, occupied a full block.  The company store is now a privately owned Dandy Dollar grocery store, and the post office functions as a barber shop.  The Ocean Coal Company's office building in Herminie was located on the corner of Fifth and Church streets, across from the Superintendent's House, and was remodeled for use by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In November 1892 the Mathew & Lindsey Company from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania began core drilling to test for coal and to determine where the mine shaft for the Ocean Mine (Herminie Mine) should be sunk.  They drilled several test holes within a small circle area.  One was near the Fairgrounds, another was in the vicinity of Newhouse service station, and the third was the place the mine shaft was sunk.  In September, 1893 the Berwind White Coal Company  began sinking the mine shaft.  About a year later the first mine car of coal was hoisted up the mine shaft. The Ocean Mine shaft was 296 feet deep.

Sinking the Ocean No. 1 Mine Shaft
Sinking the mine shaft for Ocean No. 1 Mine in Herminie, ca.1893. The man highest up the platform is William Sittman.
(Photo courtesy of Mildred S. Vanatt & John J. Wilson & "History of Sewickley Township", ca.1962.)

In 1893 the Berwind-White Coal Company opened its first mine in Westmoreland County at Herminie, the Herminie Mine or Ocean No. 1 Mine as it was called, was run by the Ocean Coal Company, a subsidary of Berwind-White Coal Company.  The company named the town after Herminie Berwind, wife of Ocean Coal Company president, Charles Berwind.

When the Herminie Mine shaft was being sunk in September, 1893, the company that sunk the shaft brought a black laborer with them named "Bud" Lloyd.  He was the stepfather of Bess Grandison. Her family lived in a log house on the Dick farm.  Later they moved to the log house at the corner of the lot across from the Wineland Cemetery. Bess and her sisters walked to Mars Hill School in 1894 with the farm children in the vicinity. Bess Grandison is now Mrs. Van Jackson and still lived in Herminie ca.1962.

Many accidents occurred during the time the Herminie Mine shaft was being sunk, as there was much blasting. Many of the injured were tended by the women of the town, there being no doctor in town.  Later, ca.1890's,  Dr. Patterson came to town and his office was located at the corner of Pike St. and Sewickley Ave., across from the hotel. Dr. W.J. Latimore, who was born in Sewickley Twp., at Armstrong Station came to Herminie in ca.1902.

The Herminie Mine (Ocean No. 1 Mine) was served by the Hempfield Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, when the Pennsylvania Railroad extended its Hempfield Branch from Darragh to Herminie.  The line was extended down past the Ocean Mine and west of Pike Street, so as to give the trains enough room to remove the coal cars from the mine sidings and serve the coal tipple.  The trains came down from Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad junction at Greensburg, Pa twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon to haul the coal out and passengers.  Before regular passenger trains ran, the passengers rode in the caboose.  The trains had to back-up towards Greensburg.  In about 1900 the tracks were extended to Cowansburg to meet the Youghiogheny branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.  A short distance below Pike Street they followed the old South Penn Railroad right-of-way to Cowansburg.  As the passenger business fell off, less passenger trains were operated until at last there was a trip in the morning and one at night made by a deisel railbus. Finally in 1928 all passenger service on the Hempfield Branch Line was discontinued.

Where the state road SR3018 crossed the railroad at Keystone there was a railroad junction called Andrews Run Junction.  Here the trains went up a spur line to Herminie No. 2 Mine and Edna No. 2 Mine.

Herminie became one of the largest coal-company-owned towns in Westmoreland County.  The mine exploited the 72 inch thick Pittsburgh coal seam and much of the coal produced at the Ocean Coal Company property was shipped to market and was used for steam coal. No coke works were built at Herminie and no coke was produced by the Ocean Coal Company.

Ocean No. 1 Mine
Ocean No. 1 Mine (Herminie Mine), Ocean Coal Company, Herminie, Sewickley Township, in the early 1900's.
(Photo courtesy of John J. Wilson & "History of Sewickley Township," ca.1962.)

By 1900 Ocean Coal Company was led by Thomas Fisher, the general superintendent in Philadelphia and F.I. Kimball, mine superintendent in Herminie.  That year the Ocean mine employed 271 persons and produced nearly 203,000 tons of coal. In 1900 the company opened a second mine, Ocean No. 2 Mine, northeast of Herminie, and built a second company town, Herminie No. 2, in Hempfield Township.
The mines needed a supply of water for their boilers and power house.  A dam was built across the creek valley in Limerick Hill.  The dam was about 28ft. deep at its brest, which was near the bend of the present road at the old Fury house.  Charles Bolton built an ice house across the road from where Hugh Smith lived.  He cut ice from the dam in the winter to supply his butcher shop which was located where the Bell Telephone exchange building is now located, ca.1962.  When Edna No. 2 Mine opened in February, 1903, the sulphur mine water that Edna No. 2 Mine discharged into the creek caused the Limerick Hill dam water to become the red acid mine water and it became useless for use in the boilers.  The Ocean Coal Company then built the present dam at Howell's which was also used as the source of Herminie's water supply for many years.

The Ocean No. 1 Mine Dam at Howell's
The dam built by the Ocean Coal Company to supply water to its Ocean No. 1 Mine, at Herminie. The dam also served as the water supply for the town of Herminie.
(Photo courtesy of John J. Wilson & "History of Sewickley Township", ca.1962.)

There was also a dam near the present bridge at the foot of Limerick Hill.  At the time there was no bridge there, the creek was forded and the road way went up along the side of the hill, coming out at the old Fury house.  The Eureka Company Store cut ice on this dam and had an ice house there, to supply its store with ice.  The pumping of sulphur water from the Keystone Mine, that was discharged into the creek, stopped this project.

In 1904, ten years after the Ocean No.1 Mine (Herminie Mine) shaft was sunk, Ocean Coal Company had 272 employees, the mine worked 267 days, and produced 287,663 tons of coal.  This included Ocean No. 2 Mine (Herminie No. 2 Mine) at Herminie No. 2, in Hempfield Township, which was just beginning to produce.

The first automobile in Herminie was owned by the Ocean Coal Company.   It was a Chalmer.  They had it during the 1910 coal miners strike.  When the strike was over they hired John Herbert to be their chauffer.  John Creighton, the hotel keeper got the second automobile and hired Mutz Solomon as his chauffer after working hours in the mine.

By 1910 Phil S. Emmons had assumed the position of mine superintendent at Herminie.  As with many mines in the Irwin Coal Basin area, the coal miners began a strike at Herminie Mine in 1910 with the goal of gaining union recognition for the United Mine Workers of America at Ocean No. 1 Mine and improve their working conditions.  Berwind - White Coal Company, the parent company of the Ocean Coal Company, refused to recognize the coal miners demands or the United Mine Workers Union.  The Ocean Coal Company imported "scab" labor to break the union and to continue the operation of its Ocean No. 1 and Ocean No. 2 mines in Westmoreland County.  The company ran its Ocean No. 1 Mine for 239 days in 1910, most of which was with "Scab Labor" and its 230 imported workers produced just under 125,000 tons of coal.

The Coal Miners Strike in 1909-1910 lasted for 18 months.  In the 1910 strike the company blocks [Company Houses] in Herminie started on Sewickley Avenue next to the site of the old brick post office and continued east to 7th Street.  The Mule Field extented from Second Street [the old Street Car Line] to where the old post office was built and down to Church Street.  At one time the Mine Mule Stable stood where Hilary Stader lived, on Third Street.  The Company Blocks on Church Street started at Third Street [House No. 1, in the coal company numbering system] and continued east to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks.

There were no houses on the north side of Church Street.  These Company Blocks and the Mule Field were completely enclosed by a board fence about 10 feet high.  One side of the fence extended from Second Street out Sewickley Avenue to Seventh Street and both ends of the enclosure went to the railroad tracks. There were board walks in front of all the company blocks, a rarity for a coal mining patch.  The gate for the fence was on Sewickley Avenue at Fifth Street.  The Coal & Iron Police were stationed at this gate to keep the "Company Scabs" in the enclosure and the striking miners out.

The strike breakers "Company Scabs" were brought into Herminie on the train from Greensburg and on street car from Irwin, guarded by the coal company Coal & Iron Police.  Most of the strike breakers that the Ocean Coal Company brought into Herminie were southern blacks, who had never seen the inside of a coal mine before.  These men were housed in the company blocks from which the striking miners had  been evicted from by the coal company Coal & Iron Police.

The Ocean Coal Company beat the striking coal miners down and the coal strike ended unsuccessfuly for the coal miners, with very little gain, the following year and by the mid 1910's production of coal at Herninie's Ocean No. 1 Mine reached new heights.

Herminie. Mr. J. Coz reported that about 30 families live in this neighborhood. Besides the families there are around 180 single settlers. F. Soklic, J. Krecek and M. Kosir have been living here for about 30 years. The rest of the immigrants came about 5 years ago. The first settlers, such as Sornig, Mole Gradisek, Coz, Kolar, Bedek, Kapla, Arnold, Drab and Cirar, have their own homes, but religious conditions are rather bad.

On Sundays many worship in the Irish church of Our Lady in Madison. Once a year Rev. J. Mertelj comes from Pittsburgh to hear confessions. In the village there are the following lodges: SNPJ Lodge #87 which was founded in 1906 with 14 members; St. Barbara's Lodge, founded in 1908 with 16 members, and SSPZ Lodge founded in 1911 with 17 members. The immigrants came mostly from the Upper Carniola (Gorenjska) or Notranjska and have found work in the coal mines. {from Rev. J.M. Trunk text published originally in 1912 Part 8, History of Slovene Communities.}

In 1915 the two Ocean mines, Ocean No. 1 Mine in Herminie and Ocean No. 2 Mine in Herminie No. 2 produced over 931,000 tons of coal.  Ocean No.  1 Mine produced about 448,000 tons of coal that year and employed 444 men and boys.

In 1919 the Ocean No. 1 Mine produced 453,195 tons of coal, the mine worked 255 days, with 344 employees, the Ocean No. 1 Mine had 1 fatal accident and 14 non-fatal accidents in 1919.  The mine used 31,000 pounds of permissible explosives.

In 1920 the Ocean No. 1 Mine produced 457,368 tons of coal, the mine worked 287 days with 355 employees, Ocean No. 1 Mine had one fatal accident and 6 non-fatal accidents 1920.  The mine used 27,000 pounds of permissible explosives.

Boltontown, Section of Herminie

Another long coal miners strike occurred in 1922, with the miners looking for better working conditions and representation by the United Mine Workers of American Union.  During the 1922 Coal Miners Strike a large wooden building was built in Boltontown on the old ball field, were later Anthony Wilps lived.  Here the strikers who had been evicted from the company owned blocks lived.  Their meals were cooked in a common kitchen building. A well was hand dug to supply the striking miners with water.

The Boltontown Buildings are described by a former resident:
"I was born in 1957 and was raised in one of the large buildings, built in 1922 in Boltontown, that housed the miners who were evicted from the company houses. Until I happened upon this site I was always lead to believe the house was built for scabs. The area you describe assures me that this was indeed my home. The old ballfield is there as well as the hand-dug well beside the house. There were actually 2 identical buildings, each with 6 four-room apartments. One of these buildings burned down in the early 1950's. In addition, there was also a building with 4 one-room apartments just north of the other two. It was demolished in the mid 1970's due to age and deterioration. There was a walking bridge that connected to Church Street just east of the smaller building. To the west ran the Irwin-Herminie trolley line. The bed for the trolley is used today for access to the remaining building. I am not 100% sure but I am pretty confident that the common kitchen you describe was later used by my family as a chicken coop and later moved to another area of the property to be used as a sheep pen. The remaining building has since been remodeled and houses 2 families. (The original apartments were very small by today's standards.) My father bought this property in 1954 and proceeded to reinvent it as what he called "his little piece of heaven on earth." To see it today with the mowed lawns, trees everywhere, and deer running through the property at dusk is a far cry from where it was in the 1920's.

My father was always a staunch supporter of the UMWA and worked the mines until his retirement in 1979. I know it always bothered him in the back of his mind that he lived in a building he thought was built for the scabs. Townspeople used to refer to our house as "the barracks." I wish he was here to find out what I have discovered, that it was built for the striking miners who were evicted from the company owned houses by the mining company. You have cleared up a long held perception that my family has been somewhat ashamed of and turned it into something we can be proud of. I hope this e-mail isn't too long. I just wanted you to know that your work is appreciated."

Chuck Roller

Herminie was always a progressive mining town.  Almost from the beginning the company blocks in Herminie had wood sidewalks.  The Ocean Coal Company made its own electricity before there was any in town and thus the Company blocks in Herminie had street lights before other parts of town.  When the coal company supplied the electricity to the coal company houses, the residents were charged a dollar a month.  The Coal Company having its own water supply from Howell's Dam, supplied fire protection to the Company blocks and to the town.  Also some of the Company blocks had water in the houses, altho it could not be used for drinking.  A private telephone service connected the officials of the mine and certain people on the other side of the street.  They were magneto type phones, where you cranked so many long and so many short rings to contact your party.

On March 27, 1937, The Jeannette News Dispatch, carried the following story:  "Officials of Ocean Coal Company, Herminie, which is due to shut down soon because of excessive water, announced that work will be provided in the Windber Mines, at Windber, Cambria County for as many of the 500 miners who want to work there."

The Ocean No. 1 Mine at Herminie closed in February, 1938.  Most of the coal miners stayed in the area and found work in other area mines.

(History and description of the Ocean No. 1 Mine, Herminie No. 1 Mine, Herminie, with additional data and pictures adapted from "Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites, 1994,"  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.)

First Store in Herminie
The old Marsh Store, the first store in Herminie, built ca.1894, now a private house, on Pike Street and West Newton Road, Herminie.
(Photo courtesy of John J. Wilson & "History of Sewickley Township", ca.1962.)

Eureka Store, Herminie, ca.1906
The Eureka Store, the Ocean Coal Company Store in Herminie, ca.1906. Left to Right: Simon Parell, W. Cowan, Oscar Kettering, Mildres Sittman (Vanatt), Mrs. Kennedy, Mr. Kennedy, Mary Socklege, Ed McAnninch.
(Photo courtesy of Mildred Vanatt and John J. Wilson "History of Sewickley Township," 1962.)

Hermine School
The first four room school house in Herminie
(Photo courtesy of Harry Critchfield and John J. Wilson, "History of Sewickley Township," 1962)

Sewickley Avenue, ca.1912
Herminie, PA. Photo taken from Pike St.
(Photo courtesy of Alfred Holmquist and John J. Wilson "History of Sewickley Township," 1962)

Sewickley Avenue, ca.1947.
Herminie, PA. Photo taken from Pike St.
(Photo courtesy of Rouse, and John J. Wilson, "History of Sewickley Township," 1962)

Welcome Home World War I Vets.
A Welcome Home parade in Herminie for the returning soldiers after World War I.
(Photo courtesy of John B. Seneff and John J. Wilson, "History of Sewickley Township," 1962.)

Mine Supervisors Office at the Ball Field in Herminie.
(Photo courtesy of John J. Wilson's "History of Sewickley Township," 1962)

"Coal Miners Memorial, Ocean No. 1 Mine,
Herminie, Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania"
History of Ocean No. 2 Mine (Herminie No. 2 Mine),
Herminie No. 2, Hempfield Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA
"Coal Miners Memorial, Ocean No. 2 Mine,
Herminie No. 2, Hempfield Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

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