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BAKERTON, PA

Three communities are situated in a row along the headwaters of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River: Barnes, Bakerton, and Elmora. In 1892 the first coal was shipped by the Elmora Coal Mining Co. Several firms, such as Sterling Coal Co.; Commercial Coal Mining Co.; Peale, Peacock & Kerr Coal Co.; Reed Coal Mining Co.; and Couser Moshannon Coal Co. operated mines at Bakerton. Also, the Nant-Y-Glo Coal Mining Company's No. 2 (also known as Heisley No. 2) was located in Bakerton, although the company hailed from Nanty-Glo in the southern part of the county.


Image by Sam Baker

Here are some tipple ruins from the Sterling No. 1 coal mine near Bakerton. This has been demolished and the mine site reclaimed since this picture was taken. Bakerton was actually named after officials with the Sterling Coal Co. named Col. Robert Baker and John Holton.


Image by Sam Baker

What looks like an underground shuttle car at the Sterling Coal Company's Sterling No. 1 Mine ruins.


Image by Sam Baker

Another more intact shuttle car at the same mine ruins.


March 2021 image by author

This is the Barnes neighborhood of Bakerton. Barnes and Tucker Company's No. 14 mine's portal was located near here. At one of their nearby coal preparation plants a coal silo was constructed in 1976 that was 228' tall. It was considered to be the world's largest coal silo.


Image by Gregg Doll

Former company store.


Image by Gregg Doll

Unique stone coal company houses.


March 2021 image by author

The people who lived in these coal company houses worked at Sterling Coal Co. Mine No. 1.


March 2021 image by author

Former Grillo brothers garage.


March 2021 image by author

This is one of the few structures remaining from all of the coal mining operations in the Bakerton vicinity. It was constructed in 1917 by the Pennsylvania Coal & Coke Co. for their No. 18 mine. After 1926 Barnes and Tucker acquired the No. 18 mine, and the reserves became part of their No. 15 mine. I don't know what PCCC used the structure for, but B&T used it as an electrical repair shop. There are a few other old mine shop buildings near this one, and they are all being reused by another company in 2021.


March 2021 image by author

St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church.


December 2021 image by author

There is a bell tower next to the church.


December 2021 image by author

One of the bells is missing.


March 2021 image by author

Detail of stained glass window on the Orthodox Church.


March 2021 image by author

Sacred Heart Cemetery behind the church. Both times that I have visited the church there is a man that looks to be in his 30s walking around another part of the cemetery. I think it is the same man. Could he be the priest, a neighbor, or a ghost?


March 2021 image by author

Headstone written in a Slavic language.


March 2021 image by author

Another headstone engraved in a non-English language.


December 2021 image by author

Up the road from Elmora was the Lancashire No. 20 coal mine. The block building in the middle, with the venitlators on the roof, was a repair shop for the mine. In the foreground is a concrete cap over the mine portal. It looks like a shaft cap, but this was, in fact, a drift portal. Before it was Lancashire 20 this was the Navy Smokeless mine. The first iteration of the mine was Logan Coal Company No. 5. In the background can be seen reclaimed mine lands.


December 2021 image by author

I was suprised to see Barnes & Tucker's name on a sign as late as 2021. This is at the acid mine drainage treatment ponds for the Lancashire No. 20 mine discharge.


From a 1975 book named "Out of the Dark:"

"My Grandma, Mary Niebauier of Elmora, worked as a coal miner in the old Bakerton mine for ten years or more in the early 1900's. At the same time, with the help of Grandpap, Elmer Niebauier, she raised six sons and several daughters.

"Unlike the fuss made now about women miners, a woman worked in the mines without attracting attention. My Grandma worked in the mines. So did a lot of other women. They worked beside their husbands doing the same things their husbands were doing. Grandpap always told me about how Gram used a pick and shovel to break the coal loose. They worked as a team to load the cars. Then one would get on each side and push the cars outside.

"The cars would be dumped and coal hauled away. Both of them worked twelve and thirteen hours a day and never got paid more than a dollar and a half for a day's work. Their pay was determined by how much they produced. If the boss called the load 'dirty coal,' they weren't paid for the car. There was no place for them to take showers or clean up after their shift ended. At the end of the day, they came home to a house that was only what they made it.

"Instead of buying their clothes, Gram made them of cotton, taffeta and wool. Clothing was scrubbed on wash boards. Most of the clothers had to be starched and ironed before they could be worn again. Before the irons could be used, they had to be heated on a coal stove. This often made the iron sooty, so it dirtied or scorched the shirt being ironed and Granama had to wash it again.

"Some of their meals were composed of berries and bread, stewed tomatoes and bread, beans and bread, or mustard and bread. Gram always made her own bread instead of buying it. If they were lucky, they had meat once a week. There were no refrigerators or freezers to keep things from spoiling, so their meat was preserved in salt. Some of the other foods were cold-packed in jars until it was ready for use.

"For home lighting, kerosene lamps, flourescent lamps, and candles were used. Light was also provided by fireplaces which, along with heating stoves, were also a source of heating the homes."

"This is what Grandma had to look forward to in the evening after a shift as a coal miner breaking coal loose and pushing coal cars with Grandpa ..."

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Sources:

Fitzsimons, Gray, editor. Blair and Cambria County, Pennsylvania; An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites. 1990.

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/.

Inzana, Mary Frances. Bakerton (Elmora) Pennsylvania 1889-1989. A.G. Halldin Publishing Co. , 1989.

Out of the Dark. A.G. Halldin Publishing Co. , 1975.


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