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WINDBER, PA

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Having learned the ropes of coal mining in Clearfield County in the 1800s, the Berwind brothers' brought their experience to the Somerset-Cambria County line in the 1890s and constructed Windber, which is Berwind transposed. Berwind-White Coal Mining Company opened Eureka No. 30 mine in 1897, followed by No. 31 and 32. The miners' families of these mines lived at Windber. But, by design, Windber was more than a coal company "patch town". Individual lots of the town were also sold to individuals and entreprenuers. A downtown section developed, and private businesses were mixed in with coal company businesses. Windber became a commercial and business center for Berwind-White's surrounding company towns: Eureka No. 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42. The community was incorporated as a borough in 1900. The high carbon, low volatile coal mined at Windber was successfully marketed as steamship and streetcar fuel. Eureka No. 32 mine's coal reserves were exhausted in 1912. Eureka 30 lasted until 1928. Eureka 31 ended production in 1932. Yet some of the surrounding Berwind-White mines continued producing coal until 1962.


June 2003 image by author

Lintel on the former Berwind-White Coal Company office.


July 2004 image by author

This was Berwind-White Coal Mining Company's main company store in Windber - the Eureka Department Store. It is perhaps the largest company store I have ever seen, rivaled only by the one that I photographed in Lynch, Ky.



Dec. 2021 image by author

St. John Cantius Catholic Church. The parish dates back to 1897, although the church building seen here was constructed in 1912-1914.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Detail of the doors on the side of St. John Cantius.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Berwind-White sold lots to individuals who weren't necessarily coal miners. Some of these people were doctors, lawyers, and storekeepers. Perhaps some of them lived in these well-maintained homes.


Dec. 2021 image by author

The coal company constructed some really nice homes for their managers.


Dec. 2021 image by author

A beautiful mansion built by Berwind-White Coal Coal Mining Company.


Dec. 2021 image by author

This was the Windber Trust Company bank. Many of these early 20th Century structures in Windber were built to last.


Dec. 2021 image by author

The former Eureka Department Store was still standing, and still housing a dollar store, in the 2020s. However, the roof is deteriorating and urgently needs replaced.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Berwind-White would allow its construction arm to build homes to be sold to private individuals.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Saint Marys Byzantine Catholic Church.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Cornerstone on St. Mary's Church.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Looking down the tracks at the back of one of the smaller company stores in Windber, as well as the surrounding neighborhood.


Dec. 2021 image by author

This was the company store serving the families of Eureka No. 31 coal mine.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Company houses in varying stages of alterations.


Dec. 2021 image by author

One of the few remaining coal houses in an alley in Windber. Coal would be deposited through the doors (now covered with white painted wood) by the coal truck for use of the residents of that particular house. This one probably served two different houses.


Apr. 2015 image by G.S.

One of the few remnants of Eureka No. 31 mine.


April 2015 image by G.S.

Former location of No. 31 portal.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Coal company duplex houses built in the 1890s for employees of No. 30 mine.


Dec. 2021 image by author

Eureka Supply Company store for Mine 30.


April 2015 image by G.S.

Virtually nothing remains of the Eureka No. 30 coal mine aside from fragments of foundations like this.


1988 HAER image taken by Jet Lowe

Company houses for the coal miners. Note how the company alternated front and side gabled orientation for their "model" town. However, other streets in Windber feature all of the company houses oriented the same direction in a more typical company town fashion.


1988 HAER image taken by Jet Lowe

This was the Eureka Supply company store for No. 32 mine. Coal companies in Pennsylvania were required to create a separate company to handle their company store retail business. Berwind-White Coal Mining Company's retail arm was Eureka Supply Company, and this would have been the name of the stores at each of their "patch" towns. Other coal company retail businesses were Union Supply Co. (H.C. Frick Coal & Coke), Federal Supply Co. (Pittsburgh Coal Co.), Mutual Supply Co. (Pittsburgh Terminal Railroad and Coal Company), and Clearfield Supply Co. (Clearfield Bituminous Coal Co.), among others. Why did the companies do this? In 1911 the U.S. Immigration Commission explained: "As conducted in the mining regions of western Pennsylvania, the company store system is usually an evasion of the law, and is a means of exploiting immigrants and other employees. These company stores, strictly speaking, are not owned and managed by the same corporate body which owns and operates the coal mines, since the laws of Pennsylvania forbid a coal-mining company to own and operate such stores. In actual practice, however, they are very closely related to the coal-mining company. In most cases a separate corporation is organized, composed of some or all of the principal stockholders of the mining business at the mining plants of the coal company. In a few instances the stores are owned by individuals who are members of the mining company. In still other cases a third company owns the stock of both the mining company and the supply company. While the stores are therefore not legally the property of the coal-mining company, they are usually the property of some or all of the same interests as is the coal company."



Sources:

Beik, Mildred A. The Miners Of Windber. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.

Mulrooney, Margaret M., A Legacy Of Coal, The Coal Company Towns Of Southwestern Pennsylvania. National Park Service, 1989.

coalmininghistorypa.org

Report of the Department of Mines of Pennsylvania, various years.



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