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SAGAMORE COALFIELD

This was a small coalfield on the eastern edge of Armstrong County in the vicinity of Cowanshannock Creek and the North Branch of Plum Creek. It was named for the first large coal mining enterprise in the area. Mining was in the Upper Freeport and Lower Freeport coal seams. From what I can see coal mining in the Sagamore Coalfield has ceased.

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Circa 1909 "Mines and Minerals" image via Google Books

Ancient picture of the Buffalo & Susquehanna Coal & Coke Company's Sagamore colliery. Sagmore coal company town and coal mines opened in 1905. You can tell that this large tipple was set up for major production. The large building with the smokestacks was the power house. Note the crude barracks on the hill behind the tipple. These may have been rudimentary shacks that were the first residences installed for the workers that actually built Sagamore.


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This sign beside the post office memorializes the picture above with the caption, "World's Largest Coal Tipple 1920's." An August 1909 issue of Mines and Minerals magazine did state, "This is probably the largest coal-mining plant in the United States and is very complete in every detail."


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The post office in Sagamore is still operational, and the zip code is 16250.


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Former coal company housing. The alternating house designs in these company houses at Sagamore reflect reforms in coal town layout that led to the construction of "model" coal company towns after 1905.


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This style of coal company houses was probably for miners and not management. Years ago there were many more houses at Sagamore than I viewed on my visit.


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I wonder if the asbestos siding on this house was installed by the coal company so many years ago? The block foundation is probably original, too.


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This coal mine fan remains at Sagmore.


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The other side of the fan. This is a well-preserved industrial artifact.


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Shaft bearings on the venitlating fan. I believe part of the housing is missing. On the other side of the fan the bearing is completely missing and the shaft is supported by a block of wood.


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Foundations of the Sagamore mines power house. This was a huge structure, and the photo doesn't do justice for how large the foundations are.


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Ruins of one of the Sagamore repair shops. This block construction may date from the time that Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal leased the Sagmore mines in the 1940s. They were the last operator of the Sagmore mines, which had all closed by 1950.


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This was possibly the Sagamore "oil house".


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Ruins of the supply house at Sagamore.


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Remains of another Sagamore mine shop.


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This little building at the site of the Sagamore tipple was more than likely a blasting cap or dynamite storage shed.


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Detail of the dynamite shed door frame.


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Looking down an old railroad bed at the former site of Sagamore Mine No. 13. For some reason the original Sagamore Mines No. 1 through 4 were renumbered No. 11 through 14 later. After that Number 15 through 18 were added. These were different entrances into the same Upper Freeport coal seam. The mines were served by a branch of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad (later part of the B&O).


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The abandoned St. Mary Byzantine Catholic church sadly sits at the back of Sagamore.


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However this Protestant church in Sagamore is still cared for.


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On a hill at the other end of Sagamore the former St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church can be found. It is now known as the Holiness Gospel Center.


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St. John's cemetery is next to the church. This cemetery predates the Sagamore coal mining community and, along with the Lutheran church, served the German-American and Scots-Irish farm families in the area. For a high resolution image click here.


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Sacred Heart and St. Mary's Catholic cemetery is located behind St. John's. This cemetery is full of headstones with Slovak, Polish, Irish, and Italian last names, reflecting the immigrant families that came to work in the Sagamore coal mines. Click here for high resolution image.


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Frank Buffone, who's headstone is etched in Italian, was on 18 years old when he died.


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Tombstones for John and Helena Misenko with markings in the Slovakian language. "Tu Spociva" tranlates into English as, "Here lies ..." Click here for high resolution image.


Image courtesy of the History of Sagamore website

The Sagamore Hotel was built in 1905 to accomodate managers and professionals supervising the construction of the town and mines. As late as 2005 the hotel was still functioning with rented apartments upstairs and a tavern downstairs.


Image courtesy of the History of Sagamore website

Sadly, in August 2005, the 100 year old hotel burned.


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The Sagamore Hotel is gone but the sign remains, perhaps as a memorial to the fond memories of present and former residents of Sagamore, Pennsylvania.


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Yatesboro is a former coal mining town named after Arthur G. Yates, President of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railroad.


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Possible former managment homes in Yatesboro, Pa.


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Modernized coal company houses at Yateboro. Cowanshannock Coal & Coke Company opened the first Yatesboro coal mine around 1900. Eventually there were Yatesboro Mines No. 1 thorugh 10. At one point one of their best customers was the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester, New York.


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Although I can't positively identify this structure, it is at the site of the former Yatesboro mine, and is even on a street named Tipple Alley. Perhaps it was a lamp house or repair shop. At any rate, it is now a residence! Note the large industrial concrete foundations behind it.


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Most of the Yatesboro mines closed in the 1930s. The latest date I can find for any of the Yatesboro mines being opened is 1953, when Yatesboro No. 5 at nearby Nu Mine closed. Today Yatesboro is a quiet community with some people still living in former company houses, such as these, and also non-company residences. It, along with neighboring Rural Valley and Nu Mine, is still a viable post-coal community in the 21st Century.


Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Co. Media Collection

"Patch" town at Nu Mine, Pennsylvania. Nu Mine was the location of Cowanshannock Coal & Coke Company's Yatesboro No. 5 coal mine, which closed in 1953. Cowashannock later became a subsidiary of Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Co.


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Nu Mine did have its own company store. Like other coal companies in Pennsylvania, a retail sister company of the coal company was required by law, in the case Valley Supply Co. I didn't see it on the day I visited the small town, but I did see these former coal company homes.


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Another row of former coal miners houses at Nu Mine.


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Cowanshannock Coal & Coke Company built a coal mining town named Margaret in the 1920s. The Margaret coal mines closed in 1931. These patch town houses remain at Margaret.


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Unlike Sagamore, Pa., the mines at Margaret, Yatesboro, and Nu Mine were served by the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railroad. The Marget mine was reopened from 1957 until 1977 by the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Co.



Sources:

The Company Town of Sagamore, accessed on May 1, 2021.

http://patheoldminer.rootsweb.ancestry.com (now defunct) by Ray Washlaski. Accessed here through the Wayback Machine.

Pennsylvania Mine Map Atlas, 10 Apr. 2021, www.minemaps.psu.edu/.

“Producing Coal Fields in the Pittsburgh District.” Howard N. Eavenson & Associates, Oct. 1928.

Sisler, James D. Bituminous Coal Fields of Pennsylvania. Part II, Pennsylvania Geological Survey, 1926.

History of Sagamore Pa., accessed on May 1, 2021.

St. Mary, Mother of God Parish, Yatesboro, accessed on May 1, 2021.

History of Rural Valley and Cowanshannock Township, accessed on May 1, 2021.


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