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ISELIN, PA

Iselin, in Young Twp., was the second major company town established by the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal & Iron Company. Lucius Robinson, president of the R&P, formed another subsidiary company, the Pittsburgh Gas Coal Company, and purchased 6,000 acres in the area in November 1902. The Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway extended their railway in 1903, employing 675 men under subcontractors King, Clement, and Shoemaker. Coal mining began at this point, even before the new company town was built. Two drift mines were open by August 1903. The contractor that built the town was the Hyde-Murphy Company, and they had twelve houses completed by September. The town was named after Adrian Iselin, the chief investor in the R&PC&I. The rail line was complete in 1904, and the mines continued to expand. Soon there was a 39 room hotel, a company store, theater, churches and a school. In the initial months, forty-two men were employed at the mines. By 1910, 1,700 were working at Iselin. Many of these were immigrants, as Indiana County could not furnish adequate local labor for such an large enterprise. At its peak, Iselin had more than 200 homes. A decline set in by the early 1910s; in 1914, employment had dropped to 900 men. The mine had its own powerhouse until 1914, when service was provided from the central R&PC&I power plant at Lucerne. By 1930, operations were being conducted through another subsidiary company, the Helvetia Coal Mining Company. In that year 282 men were employed in Iselin No. 1 and No. 2 mines. Over the next few years, the mines were only open intermittently, and in 1934 they were permanently shut down. Many of the workers relocated to Coal Run, where R&P still had active mines. Passenger service on the railroad ended soon afterwards. The houses were sold off by the company in 1947, and are now privately owned. Circ 2012 there was a surface coal mine at Iselin, which has now been reclaimed in accordance with 21st Century mine reclamation regulations.


(Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company Media Collection, IUP)

Vintage photo of the Iselin company store.


(March 2020 image by author)

This was the portal for the Iselin No. 2 mine. As you can see, the ground behind the portal has collapsed.


(March 2020 image by author)

Detail of the keystone in the stone arched lintel reads, "No. 2 - 1903."


(March 2020 image by author)

There are other foundations from the old mining complex in the woods near the No. 2 portal.


(March 2020 image by author)

A cut stream enclosure probably dates back to the original tipple construction. In the background is the reclaimed circa 2012 surface coal mine. The electrical panel might date from that time, too.


(March 2020 image by author)

This structure was originally the Iselin mine office. The small brick building behind it was the company doctor's office.


(March 2020 image by author)

A closer look at the doctor's office.


(March 2020 image by author)

Large three story company houses.


(March 2020 image by author)

This is the most common type of house in the Iselin "patch town." Most have been altered.


(March 2020 image by author)

The house on the right appears to have the original siding. The small room on the side, with the shed roof, may be original, too, as the house next door has that feature also.


(March 2020 image by author)

This is a smaller style of coal company house at Iselin.


(March 2020 image by author)

The Protestant Iselin community Church is still well-maintained.


(March 2020 image by author)

Former church and rectory of the Holy Cross Catholic Parish that existed in Iselin until 1989. At that point in time, this church, along with the Catholic churches at Aultman and McIntyre, were combined into the Church of the Good Shepherd parish near Jacksonville, Pa.


(March 2020 image by author)


Sources:

Rose, Kenneth, editor. Indiana County, Pennsylvania; An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites. 1993.



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