February 25, 2009

What's Under The Ground In Ten Mile Creek Country ?

These maps give one an idea of the condition of the the ground under us and the amazing extent of mining that's gone on here. The earliest of the mines shown here were worked starting around 80 some years preceding the late 70's when this map was made. All these open to large size.

There are only a few above ground reference points shown but I think there are enough to orient one as to what is seen.

Mather Collieries, solid line at right points north. They did not mine north of the town but to the south the mine went almost to State Route 21.

This shows the area from the river roughly south to Charmichaels

maps from collection of author

February 23, 2009

Steamboat To Clarksville and Other Boats On Ten Mile Creek

There are a few documented instances of steamboats on Ten Mile Creek. The month of July in the year 1888 saw what was one of the biggest floods ever on the Monongahela. At Brownsville in that year the river crested at 43 feet, the all-time high water mark there. This was three feet more than even the great flood of 1936. On the crest of this 1888 flood the sternwheel towboat WILLIAM WAGNER ran up Ten Mile Creek and landed at Clarksville. The boat was built at Pittsburgh in 1882 and was 100 x 17 x 2 feet. This was a good sized boat, much bigger than the few steam yacht / pleasure boats that are known to have travelled up our creek. There would have been no bridges to deal with at that time until they reached Clarksville, a little less than three miles from the river. Judging by the configuration of the creek it must have been some hard shoving once up to the area where Pitt Gas and Besco would later be. The vessel was owned By Capt. J. C. Cooper ( called Clinton by his friends ) and Levi Barker. Capt Cooper was in command on this trip. What business they had there, if they had a barge in tow or where at the town they landed is unknown. At that time some towboats running in backwater trades also carried a limited number of passengers, even a small 60 foot boat could be registered for 5 cabin and 5 deck passengers. It is possible too, that they did it just for bragging rights as that was sometimes done by these early rivermen. According To Capt. Way's Steam Towboat Directory the boat was " principally remembered as towing timber out of the Upper Monongahela to boatyards and elsewhere." She was out of documentation ( no longer operating ) in 1890. No photographs of her exist. Capt. Cooper's daughter, Mrs. Phil Kussart, is the author of a river history book titled " The Allegheny River . "

Another boat that visited Clarksville on a flood was the little steam propeller yacht GAZELLE. Nothing is known of either her business or the year she went up. She was 65 x 10 x 3 and built by R. C. Price at Allegheny ( now the North Side of Pittsburgh ) Pa. in 1901. At that time she was owned By Harrison P. Dilworth and other Greene County businessmen who had coal properties on the upper Monongahela. On the trip to Clarksville she was under the command of Capt. John S. Faddis who was, I believe, from the Rices Landing area. He was a riverman of some versatility. In 1905 Capt. Faddis was Master of the ROSE HITE, a large ( 155 x 28 x 4 ) Mon river packet boat that ran the upper Mon. He was at the wheel when she collided with the towboat JOHN F. KUEN above Brownsville and sank with the loss of 5 Black deckhands. He also ran the small DAISEY, a " daylight short trader " , between Martin Pa. and Morgantown early in the century. She was a little sternwheel packet , 75 x 14 x 2 with one boiler that was 54" x 7 feet, built at Antiquity Pa. in 1903. Originally built by Capt. E. E. Varian, she was later owned by H.E. and T. B. Eberhart. In 1908 she was sold to Capt. William Goudy of Rices landing and in 1911 she was sold down the Ohio River. No photo known to me exists of this boat. The GAZELLE probably looked somewhat like the HAZEL L. WATSON in the picture below.

This photo shows the little propeller steamer HAZEL L. WATSON running between East Millsboro and Millsboro with the Mouth of Ten Mile Creek in the background. This photo was taken after 1907 since we see the RR bridge across the creek's mouth. This is an old real photo post card view that I bought years ago and likely one of a kind as those often are. The writer of this card describes it as "the ferry", more accurate would be the old term packet boat or the modern term water taxi. It is likely to assume that she made occasional trips into Ten Mile, water permitting. She was built at Allegheny Pa. in 1901 and was 70 x 10 x 3. Owned by Capt. John O. Watson in 1907, Capt. William Syphers of Rices landing bought part interest and owned her outright by 1909. Syphers, who owned the Monongahela Hotel in Rices Landing, ran her between Brownsville and Rices Landing. Later owned by Crosan Construction of Brownsville , she was lost on Feb. 10, 1918 in the big ice of that year , at Rices Landing.
Ten Mile Creek did, and still does put out quite a volume of water. In old times before the new locks a bar would build up running across the river at the creek's mouth and had to be regularly dredged so that boat traffic could pass up and down.

One more steamboat that has a direct connection to Ten Mile is the CLAIRTON. She was built at Ambridge Pa. in 1927 and was 147 x 33 x 6. Originally the called YOUGHIOGENY for Carnegie Steel she was later named the B. F. FAIRLESS. She came to be called CLAIRTON in 1952, being the third and last boat of that name. She ran almost entirely on the Mon till 1964 and was laid up at / near Engles Boat Docks at the mouth of the creek at Millsboro. There was hope she could be utilized locally as a museum but this never came about. While she was laid up there she had a new career as a restaurant for several years. With my family I took a few meals on that old boat . I remember that it was none too fancy but quite clean, everything wood painted white, inside and out. Guests had to ascend to the boiler ( second ) deck for seating in a small saloon. I prowled around her several times on those visits and I fail to remember her having her wheel , it may have been removed. A final chapter to the story is that in 1974 she was sold to a New Orleans company. Her engines , less boilers, were installed in the NATCHEZ, a sternwheel steamboat built new in 1975 for the day excursion trade and those same engines power her in New Orleans Harbor to this day, every day. Some old boats never die.

The CLAIRTON when she was still the B. F. FAIRLESS at the Elizabeth bridge in 1950, shoving coal as she did for 37 years.

February 1, 2009

Baseball In Clarksville

Company store ball field, late 40's

There are at least 300 people in the photo above. On the left, the first building is a private residence, next is Dusha's Auto Body earlier it was a bowling alley and Yerkish's Beer Distributor ) then Jake Kensic's hotel. The building that was Louis Kauffman's store is just beyond Kensic's Hotel and then Steve " Caddilac " Kochis ' store. The darkest color building beyond that is the old water company. That building was built in 1927 and was the original Washington Supply company store.
This interesting picture shows the ballfield from a different angle. At the counter behind the backstop they sold pop and I think beer during the games. . In the vacant field to the right is where the annual firemans' carnivals were held. The large building in the left corner of the photo is the Louis Kauffman store. Visible on the hill is the large old Clarksville schoolhouse. Image from Stanley Fowler collection.

Ralph Minerd, Steve Cromika, Frank Cromika, John ?, Louie Missini, Bill Minerd, Bobby Dollar. This 1949 photo courtesy of Sarah Minerd Potter.

Vestaburg team at Clarksville

Crucible team
If you liked baseball it was great to grow up in Clarksville. As early as 1890 Clarksville residents formed a team known as the Invincibles. Dr.F.L.Blachley was manager. Members were I.G.Murray, Henry Murray, Elmer Holder, Charles Holder, A.P.Burson, Alex Simmons, William Hupp, Harry Hupp, Mont Greenlee, Austin Moredock, John Burson, Charley Crumrine, Frank Arnold and Walter McCullough. They offered to meet all challengers from other Greene County teams.
The entire Mon valley area has always been big on sports and there's likely been baseball played in Clarksville since the patch was built. In the 40's and 50's several local business' sponsored young men's teams. In the 1950's it was the home field of the Clarksville Merchants team. For a nice picture of that group, go here.  Early on the coal companys organized teams and most larger patch towns had a team at one time. These games were surprisingly well attended.

Clarksville Eagles Club team late 40's.

In the early 1960's baseball was everything to us. The older guys had a pony league. The little league had four teams, all drawn from just Clarksville ( both sides of the creek ), Besco and Pitt Gas. The men of the area organized the teams in the old Miner's Union hall in Clarksville. The names of those fine men that I can recall are John Chulick, Big Nate Calloway, Mel Remington, Willoghby Price,Walter Dusha and my father, John L. "Hoss" Durdines. I know there were many others and regret that I cannot name more. They let the kids pick the team names so we came to be called the Pirates, Braves, Yankees and the Orioles. We played both behind the company store and at a field the men built behind G. I. Town. "Shoes" Doman used to come down from his farm on his tractor and cut the grass and drag the infield before every game. They built a new backstop and concrete block dugouts that lasted till a few years ago. We, as a team, in our uniforms, with ball gloves of course, piled in these good men's family cars and several times went on trips to Forbes Field to Pittsburgh Pirate games . I remember seeing Willy Mays and Stan Musial and many other big stars play there. We were hauled to a super market opening at Richeyville where we saw, on a flatbed truck, Roberto Clemente, Bob Friend and Bill Mazeroski. I got handshakes and autographs from all three and that was pretty exciting. Those coal miner's did pretty well for their sons and neighbors.

Here is the Clarksville Orioles team of 1961.

From Left to right : First row : Billy Murphy. John Chesney, Larry Durdines, Bert Kiefer.

Second row : Wally Meyers, Bruce Hager, Nick Vuckovich, Dave Saunders , * Harris

Third row : Phil Knapik, Russ Deems, Monk Santucci, Bobby Garrett, Phil Rebottini, Mickey Beringo

Back Row : Coach John L. " Hoss " Durdines

They started you early on baseball too, I was 18 months old here, the picture and the shadow by my Daddy, Hoss, 1953 . Hoss was remembered by all his friends as a serious fan of baseball. I remember his joy when the Pirates won the World Series in 1960. He recalled to me the last time they had won, in 1927 when he was 15 years old. I still have his wallet from when he died in November 1963, in that wallet is a Pittsburgh Pirates schedule for 1964. He was ready.

Clarksville Ballfield 2009  All images property of author unless noted

All things must pass