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Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania

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The 20th Century Society of Western Pennsylvania

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Coal Miners Memorial Shaner Mines, Shaner, Sewickley Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA

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Shaner Mines,
Westmoreland County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A Tribute to the Coal Miners that mined the Bituminous Coal seams of the Shaner Mines, Shaner, Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Compiled & Edited by
Raymond A. Washlaski

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

Updated Feb. 22, 2009

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Shaner No. 1 Mine (ca.1889?-1926)
Located 1/2 mile northeast of Guffey Station, in Possum Hollow, Shaner, Sewickley Twp.
Owners: (ca.1889?-  ?  ), Shaner Gas Coal Company. West Newton, PA
             (ca.1919-   ? ), Pittsburgh Coal Company, Pittsburgh, PA

Shaner No. 2 Mine (ca.1889?- ? )
Owners: (ca.1889-   ?  ), Shaner Gas Coal Company, West Newton, PA
             (ca.1919-   ?   ), Pittsburgh Coal Company, Pittsburgh, PA

B & O Railroad Shaner Station
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station at Shaner.
(Photo courtesy of Hilma Leasure & John J. Wilson's book, "History of Sewickley Township", ca.1962)

Were the road crosses the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks in the Village of Shaner was a log house.  The Shaner family lived there before the coming of the Pittsburgh-Connellsville Railroad (This railroad was later brought by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.)  From the Shaner family name came the name of the village of Shaner.  Although the village was called Shaner or Shaner Station, the post office was first called Youghiogheny and then finally Yohoghany.  The Yohoghany Post Office, located in the Stewart Store at the Village of Shaner, was closed in 1934 and the vicinity is now served by R.F.D. from the Irwin Post Office.  Once R.F.D. delivery was handled out of the Yohoghany Post Office.

The Youghiogheny Coal Hollow Coal Company (Y.C.H.C. Co.) had many coal banks along the Shaner Valley. Thomas Moore, who owned the distillery, once had mines in the Shaner vicinity.  Once there was feverish activities here due to the coal boom.

On the 1867 Map of Sewickley Township, the Village of Shaner appears to be the largest community in the township.  In 1867 Shaner had many dwellings.  Ament & Finch had a store in Shaner and were dealers in dry goods, groceries, drugs and medicine.  Wilson & Rupert ran a dry goods and grocery store.  R.O. Newton had a blacksmith shop.  Philip Bolander had a meat market.  Mrs. J. Rupert had a store and the post office.  There was a hotel and another blacksmith shop.  On the outskirts of Shaner, Wiley's had a store.

The Central Yough Coal Company had a mine near the village, it was owned and operated by Walter Calvery.

Stewart's Store, Shaner, ca.1922
Stewart's Store in Shaner, ca.1922, owned by E. R. Stewart. left to right: R. E. Stewart, Ada Maude Stewart, Pearl Saylee Copeland, Mrs. Stewart (Maude Fellabaum Stewart), and two Stewart boys, Loris Stewart, in the coveralls and Richard E. Stewart, in the white.
(Photo courtesy of Norris B. Copeland & John J. Wilson's book, "History of Sewickley Township", ca.1962)

R.E. Stewart had a store in the Village of Shaner for many years.  When he became a tax collector his wife, Maude Fellabaum Sewart, took over the operation of the store and the post office.  Mr. Charles Fellabaum, Mrs. Stewart's father, was a mine boss and fire boss in the mines in the vicinity for many years.  In 1938, at the age of 81 years, he was the subject of an article in the McKeesport Daily News.  He told of how they went into the mines at 4:30 A.M. and came out at night.  How in the winter they never saw daylight.

In 1870 Shaner had a population of 300 people. To go to the Court House in Greensburg, the people would take the B & O Railroad Passenger train to the Braddock Station and then board a Pennsylvania Railroad Passenger train to Greensburg.

In the early 1870's Shaner had two saloons.  One was operated by James Skillan and the other by David Keener.  Each saloon had its own faction and there was no love lost between them. Their abscence of love caused many hard fought battles between them.  With the mines went the saloons.

When William C. Gallagher, the distiller, left Guffey, he came to Shaner and ran an undertaking establishment until 1884 in Shaner.

The Village of Shaner has been plagued with floods, they had one on July 26, 1879 which swept away the school house into the river, this school house was rebuild near the same site.  Then twenty years later, in the summer of 1899, another cloudburst came down the valley and took the school house away again.  This time the remants of the school were used to build a hotel, the Hotel Shaner, it was operated by Ralph Braddigan.  The flood of 1879 also swept away the school house that was located down river, or north, at Buena Vista.  Shaner was also hit hard by the Big Flood on St. Patrick's Day in 1936 and then again by a flood in 1954.

Hotel Shaner
Hotel Shaner, W.L. Page, Proprietor, Yohioghany P.O.,  PA , from an undated postcard.
(Photo courtesy of Norris B. Copeland & John J. Wilson's book, "History of Sewickley Township", ca.1962)

In the 1890's there were about 36 houses in the Village of Shaner, in ca.1962 there are only about half as many as that.  Shaner was one of the towns along the Youghiogheny River that became a "Ghost Town" with the fall of the coal mining industry.  It was the prosperity of towns like Shaner that caused the building of dams and locks on the Youghiogheny River between West Newton and McKeesport.  Now the dams and locks are gone.  All that can be seen of them, an only at low water, are there former locations in the river.

During the 1890's and later there was a ferry across the Youghioheny River to Stringtown, in Allegheny County. It was a basket affair that was operated on a cable stretched across the river.  You had to pull yourself across using the cable.  The doctor from across the river had to use it to make his calls in Sewickley township.

The people of Shaner and vicinity went to the Dravo Church, which was located across the river from Guffey. They went in a large flat bottom boat.

There was also a large ferry across the river that could hold a team of horses and a wagon.  Four men with oars propelled the boat-ferry across the river.

During the turn of the century Dave Pierce had a railroad siding put in at Shaner.  Cattle were brought in by the train car load and unloaded to the farmers which bought them.

Down the tracks, towards Sutersville, was the Buena Vista railroad tower. On the hill above the tower was Summer Hill School.  A grist mill was located on this vicinity and was operated by water power from a creek that no longer exists.

One of the Italian families in Shaner had trouble with the "Black Hand," just as those in Guffey were having.  The store keeper's wife delivered the "Dummy package" of money, armed with a butcher knife. But no one appeared.  They either knew the package was a fake or that the police were watching.

From the  "Report of the Department of Mines for 1914" the following information about the Shaner Mine was obtained:
Shaner - Built 28 stoppings, 6 overcasts, 2 pump houses, and 4 dams 12 feet by 7 feet by 13 inches and one dam 24 feet by 7 feet by 13 inches, all of brick.  Extended the motor road 3,800 feet, and laid 3,000 feet of 4 inch pipe.
Outside: Erected frame repair shop 14 feet by 24 feet, and frame stable 14 feet by 15 feet, also a frame building 9 feet by 17 feet and installed therein as electric blower for the blacksmith shop."

Some time before 1919 the Shaner Mine and the Ocean No. 1 Mine (PCC) of the Pittsburgh Coal Company were joined underground.

In 1920 the Shaner Mine along with the Ocean No. 1 Mine (PCC) of the Pittsburgh Coal Company produced 102,370 tons of coal, the mines employed 151 miners, and worked 160 days, with 2 non-fatal accidents, the miners used 12,527 pounds of black powder explosives in the mines.

Consolidated Rubber Corp.
The Consolidated Rubber Corporation built a rubber factory on the outskirts of Shaner, towards Sutersville, in ca.1919.  It made tires, toy balloons, and rubber products.  In ca.1962 a garbage disposal dump was located on the site of the old Rubber plant.  Garbage was brought in on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and burnt.  The land was part of the old Hamilton farm.
(Photo courtesy of Hilma Leasure & John J. Wilson's book, "History of Sewickley Township", ca.1962)

The McKeesport Daily News, August 28, 1962, ran a story and a page of pictures about Guffey and Shaner.  About Shaner the story said: "Shaner, another former mining community, has not fully accepted the retirement imposed upon it with the closing of the mines.  Although it contains only 15 houses, it boasts an active Women's Club whose efforts are responsible for the Honor Roll that lists 96 citizens of Guffey and Shaner who served their country during World War I and II and the Korean conflict.  The tiny community continues to exist in the backwassh of today's age of easy transportation, almost untouched by the progress of recent years."

Shaner Miners
A group of unidentified coal miners in one of the early Shaner Mines, note the open flame oil lamps worn by the miners and the safety lamps the miners have on their belts also the mule and the mule driver.
(Photo courtesy of Norris B. Copeland, from his grand-daughter Kate Freeman)

Shaner's Cornet Band, ca.1908
The Shaner Cornet Band ca.1908, photo taken at Jacob's Creek when the band went there to play.
(Photo courtesy of Harry Forgle & John J. Wilson's book, "History of Sewickley Township", ca.1962)

From Richard Peters we have the following about one of the Shaner families.

My Grandmother was born and raised in Shaner Hollow, in 1898.  She was the daughter of Thomas F. Anderson and Lida V. Wilson Anderson.  Their house was at a place my Grandmother referred to as "Kunkle's Crossroads."  Thomas Anderson was a coal miner at Shaner, some of his boys also worked in the mines.

The history of Shaner, was extracted from "History of Sewickley Township" by John J. Wilson, ca.1962.

"Coal Miners Memorial, Shaner Mine,
Shaner, Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania"
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