July 2002 image by author

Company store at the Filbert "patch." H.C. Frick Coke Co., which was absorbed into newly formed U.S. Steel in 1903, called their stores "Union Supply Stores." They closed the last one, at Continental No. 1 patch, in 1959.

About this store the late Regis Maher wrote, "Across the road and over the trolley rail was the company store where many people congregated everyday except Sunday. Each miner had a charge account at the company store, and the account was monitored through the mine office by chief clerk who made sure the miner had enough money coming in his next pay to cover any heavy charges. Thus there was a great deal of communication between the store office and the mine office regarding money matters for the miners and their families." This is why I believe that very few Western Pennsylvania mines used scrip, at least after around 1900. I think a credit account was more common. If the PA coal companies did use scrip then they probably used paper bills rather than coins. Whenever one looks at eBay there is always a good selection of coin scrip from West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, but almost never any from Pennsylvania or Ohio. As a matter of fact, the only coin scrip I have ever seen from a Pennsylvania coal mine would be the Valley Camp Coal Co. at Kinlock, PA. A few years ago I was on a history tour of a patch in Western PA and the tour guide began speaking about miners paid in scrip. I asked if they got paper or coin scrip, and she said coins, but I don't know if that is true.

Here's an example of Union Supply Company (HC Frick) paper scrip. This particular example is stamped Hostetter, one of their coal and coke operations in Westmoreland County. But I have seen others stamped with names of other stores, such as Wynn. So they must have had this company wide currency on which was stamped a certain company store where the scrip would be used.

Feb. 2003 image by author

Frick Coke built Filbert, PA around 1909 but, instead of building beehive coke ovens, sent their coal out thorought the underground Palmer conveyor system to the Monongahela River. By the time 1957 rolled around, H.C. Frick Coke Co. had morphed into the Frick District of U.S. Steel's mining subsidiary and the Filbert coal mine closed in that year.

Feb. 2003 image by author

Except for the tipple and headframe, most of the buildings at Filbert associated with the mine are still existing. What is particularly interesting is that U.S. Steel was still using them as repair shops for their equipment as late as 1989. That's a pretty late date for US Steel to be retaining a maintenance crew in Fayette County, because by then almost all of the major coal mines in Fayette County were gone. They may have kept their repair shops in Everson in the northern part of the county open into the 1980's as well.

Feb. 2004 image by author

Two structures on "Air Shaft Road" that were once intake and exhaust fans.

Microsoft Virtual Earth image

Aerial view of a portion of Filbert, PA with the remains of the mine complex on the left, a part of the patch called Filbert No. 2 on the right, and New Salem Road in between the two features.