January 2, 2009

Mather - The Town And The Coal Mine


The property of the Mather Collieries, consisting of about 4400 acres, is located at Mather, north of the village of Jefferson, Greene County, Pa. The operation is owned jointly by Pickands, Mather & Company; the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company; and the Steel Company of Canada, Ltd., Hamilton, Out., and operated by Pickands, Mather & Company, of Cleveland. The town of Mather is named in honor of Samuel Mather, senior member of the firm of Pickands, Mather & Company, and William G. Mather, of the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company.

Topographical conditions were favorable for a splendid town site and the management decided that it was imperative to provide the best living conditions possible in order to attract the better class of mine labor. The tract of land available is of sufficient area to provide for 500 or more houses and yet provide sufficient space for each house. The streets are laid out to suit the topography and provide good drainage. Lots are 80 feet in width and from 105 to 120 feet deep.

Street Map of Mather.

The houses are built 20 feet back from the street line. Each house has water and sewerage. "Sanisep" closets are installed and have proven entirely satisfactory. Most of the streets have been macadamized with crushed slag with a coating of limestone screenings. Sidewalks of Cleveland sawed stone are laid. Ample fire protection is furnished from two 50,000 gallon tanks, located on a hill nearby, giving a pressure of from 60 to 80 pounds throughout the town. Shade trees have been planted along the streets, so that in a few years there will be no evidence that it is a coal mining town. Houses contain from three to six rooms each, but the five-room houses are most in demand.

Five Room house plan.

A three room house rents for 8.00, a four room for 9.50 and a five room house for 11.00 a month. Water is provided by a dam across the mouth of Browns Run formed by the embankment for railroad sidings. The drainage area is about four square miles and the water is impounded in a reservoir holding about 2,000,000 gallons. Water is pumped from the reservoir by a centrifugal pump to a raw- water tank from which it flows by gravity through a filtration plant of 100,000 gallons capacity per eight hours into a wet well, from which it is pumped direct to the tanks on the hill. Four-inch pipe is used for distribution, with 2 inch house connections.The water is analyzed weekly by representatives of the State Board of Health and has proven entirely satisfactory.

Theater with confectionery on left and library on right

In order to have a contented people, it is necessary that some sort of recreation be provided. A moving picture theater is in operation, in which all the latest and best pictures are shown several nights a week, at prices merely sufficient to pay for management and upkeep.

Recreation Building

On the opposite corner of the square is a recreation building containing bowling-alleys, pool-tables, and barber shop on the first floor, with a large dance-hall on the upper floor. The need for such a building in a community of this sort is evidenced when parties will come miles from surrounding country to attend functions and dances held in it. The town supports a baseball club which rendered a good account of itself last season and promises to do the same this year. A modern school takes care of the educational needs of the young members of the community. Religious services are held in the various buildings and sites have been reserved for those congregations who wish to erect their own church edifices. The company has a welfare worker and nurse, whose duty it is to visit the families and instruct them in American ways of living.

Club House

For the young single men and bachelors among the operating force, a club-house with all modern conveniences affords a quiet home. Taking all things into consideration, the town of Mather is located in one of the most charming spots in Western Pennsylvania and no effort or money has been spared to keep the town in harmony with its surroundings.
Map of town, railroad and mine

It is served by the Chartiers Southern Railway, owned jointly by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the New York Central Railroad, and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, connection being made with the Monongahela Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Millsboro on the Monongahela River. The coal is used entirely by the owners in by-product plants located at Toledo, Canton, and Cleveland, Ohio, and Hamilton, Out., being transported in 70-ton capacity railroad cars owned by the Mather Collieries.The coal dips to the southeast at about an average grade of 1.5 per cent, and the cover over the coal varies from 300 feet at Ten Mile Creek to 650 feet under the highest hills. The seam of coal as indicated by present development and numerous drill holes at various locations on the property will average six feet, nine inches thick and produce a tonnage of 10,000 tons per acre.
The topography of the property is typical of southwestern Pennsylvania, being a rolling agricultural country. The south branch of Ten Mile Creek flows along the southeast side of the property at an elevation slightly below 900 feet above sea level, and to the northwest elevations of 1100 to 1200 feet are reached on the property. The general direction of Ten Mile Creek is parallel to the Bellevernon anticlinal and forms the lowest elevation so far as the coal seam on the property is concerned. The creek valley is the only feasible route for a railroad outlet and necessitated that the surface plant and point of development of the property be located contiguous thereto, and a plant location was chosen near the southeast central portion of the tract, so that the haulage would be in favor of the loads.
The Chartiers-Southern Railway was located and built on the opposite side of Ten Mile Creek from the plant site. Owing to topographical conditions it was necessary to construct the sidings with one connection with the railroad. This involved the construction of a two-span, deck, plate-girder bridge across the creek and a passing track from the lower end of the yards to a point above the location of the No. 2 shaft. The yard is arranged for the ultimate storage capacity of 100 loads and empties, with ample facilities for switching between the two shafts, so as to avoid interference when it becomes feature determined the distance between shafts of 850 feet. It will be noticed that three loading tracks are provided for No. 1 shaft and two for No. 2 shaft. The product shipped is run-of- mine, but provision was made for separating and loading slack in case it should prove advisable. The sidings are laid with 90-pound rails on standard ties. All turnouts are No. 8. The track is ballasted with granulated slag.

Owing to the outline and location of the property it was decided that for the most economical operation it would be wise to consider the tract as two separate operations, but operated with the same surface plant; consequently, both shafts were designed as hoisting shafts — No. 1 to be used exclusively for hoisting coal and slate, and therefore for the larger output, and also to serve as an intake for air. No. 2 to be used for hoisting coal and slate, men, and supplies, and one compartment to serve as an air exhaust. The shafts are the same inside dimensions, the difference in arrangement of bun-tons being that they are so placed as to give a slightly larger area for exhaust airway in No. 2 and to provide room for stairway in No. 1, if deemed necessary. This stairway has not been constructed at the present writing. The shafts are concrete lined, with steel bunions and reinforced concrete partition between hoistways and air compartment.
From top of coping to bottom of coal, No. 1 is 341 feet in depth and No. 2 is 349 feet.
Ground was' broken August 20, 1917 on No. 1 and August 7, 1917 on No. 2. Coal was reached May 8, 1918 on No. 1 and May 20, 1918 on No. 2. The time required to sink and line both shafts was approximately nine months — an average rate of 39 feet per month. In normal times this would be considered slow, but, owing to war conditions, shortage of labor, and the work being located some five miles from a railroad.

Shop And Supply House

The building containing the shop and supply house is 39 by 138 feet, divided into four compartments — blacksmith, carpenter, and machine-shops and supply house. The blacksmith shop is equipped with two forges, a fan, and a hammer.
The carpenter and machine-shop contains a lathe, a hack-saw, a radial drill-press, a shaper and an emery-wheel. All machinery is operated by belt from a line-shaft driven by a 15-horse-power, alternating-current, 220-volt motor. In the design of this building, special regard was given1 to light and ventilation. A track extends the full length through the middle, so as to facilitate the handling of material, mine cars and locomotives.

The Hoist House is located near No. 1 shaft and houses the hoisting equipment, which consists of a "Vulcan" hoist with cylindro-conical drums 7.5 to 10 feet in diameter. An output of three cars per minute can be maintained, which insures a tonnage of over 3000 tons a day from the No. 1 shaft when the mine is sufficiently developed — at the same time hoisting the slate. Ventilation is afforded by a Jeffrey fan 14 feet in diameter and 6 feet wide, having an ultimate capacity of 350,000 cubic feet per minute. The head-frame and tipple are constructed of steel, concrete floors being installed in the tipple. The coal is dumped from self-dumping cages into either of two bins located side by side, from which it is fed by reciprocating feeders over stationary screens five feet in length, separating the coal into three sizes and delivering it onto the picking tables. The coal is hand picked, the refuse being handled by a refuse conveyor to the slate bin immediately under the dump chute. The coal after passing over the picking tables is dumped into a receiving bin, from which it is loaded into cars on either of two tracks. The refuse from the mine is dumped direct into a bin of 50 tons capacity, from which it is loaded directly into a 10-ton electric larry and hauled across the railroad sidings on an overhead bridge to a refuse dump. This dump is of such a height that with the land available for dumping purposes it will. no doubt, serve the life of the mine. In case it should prove insufficient at its present height, the larrys able to operate on a six per cent, grade, so that an extra height of 20 or 25 feet can be utilized.
The Lamp House and First Aid building is located near the power-house at No. 2 shaft. It is a two-story structure, the second floor being devoted to instruction in rescue work, etc., meetings being held once a week. The lower floor contains the lamp house, mine foreman's office and first-aid room.
In order to facilitate transportation, loaded and empty track haulage roads have been provided. Sixty-pound steel rail is used on main haulage roads and 25-pound on butts and rooms. At present the underground equipment consists of two 15-ton trolley locomotives, eight 7-ton storage locomotives for gathering, 13 short-wall mining machines, 400 mine cars of 2.75-ton capacity, equipped with roller bearings.

The production has reached 2000 tons a day this month and is constantly and uniformly being increased. Mining conditions are very good, the only drawback being exceptionally heavy draw slate in some sections of the mine but this is thought to be a merely local condition.

In conclusion, our firm wishes to express its acknowledgment to the various persons connected with the enterprise, for their hearty co-operation in bringing about the final consummation of the project, it being carried on under war-time conditions. Among those deserving of special mention are : Frank Armstrong, of Pickands, Mather and Company Cleveland, General Manager; the late W. L. McDonald, Superintendent during the greater part of the construction; J. W. H. Crofts, architect,of Cleveland, who designed the various civic buildings.

Safety award carbide lamp given To Pickands Mather miners
Water Tank and Pump House At Stoney Point, 1930. This supplied trains working Mather Mine. State Rt.188 overpass in background. Photo from Monongahela Railway.

Miner's check Tag

This story is taken from Proceedings of the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania‎ by the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania and is a report on the mine and town as it was in 1922.
Mather Collieries began operation in 1918 and ceased in 1964. During it's 46 year history, the mine produced an estimated 33.4 million tons of coal.
A very partial list of the men who worked at Mather is here. My story about the Mather train station is here.

Wes Knisley has created an interesting site on Mather and the mine here. There are some rare old pictures of the mine, town and nearby area, well worth a look at. Also reproduced there are the contents of the Mather Mining Disaster book by Tony Bupka, printed by the Brownsville Telegraph newspaper. This book is quite rare, in my years of collecting I have only ever found two copies of it for sale. It is the best reference on the subject.


Trade and economic issues said...

I like to read your blog, this the fist... so next .. permit read again..

ProRR said...

Definatly the best site I've seen of this area. I went by Mathers many times on the NS Ten Mile Line and always wondered what was there.

Gary C.