Short Mountain Colliery: Events Which Increased or Decreased Production (1825-1899)
1825: Anthracite coal first discovered in this vicinity by Jacob Burd Sr. and Peter Kimes, lower end of Short Mountain. A 1600 acre plot purchased by Thomas P. Cope for $400.00 partly paid with merchandise.
1830: April 7th– Lykens Valley Railroad and Coal Company formed to construct a railroad to Millersburg. This railroad was fourth in the United States and the first in Dauphin County to carry Anthracite coal.
1831: Wiconsico Coal Company was organized, consisting of six members. Simon Gratz, Samuel Richards, George H. Thompson, Charles R. Thompson, Henry Schreiner and Henry Scheffer. Work began on the Lykens Valley Drift, first miners were James Todarff, John Brown and William Hall.
1833: A slope was sunk into the White’s Vein about 70 feet from the surface by a miner named John White, the vein named after him.
1834: Railroad completed to Millersburg, coal cars were drawn by horse power on a flat strip rail, taking two days for one trip down. A number of ark loads of coal shipped down the Susquehanna River during the spring freshet. Later the coal cars were boated across the river from the end of the railroad at Millersburg to the Pennsylvania Canal at Mount Patrick. The first boat load of Lykens Valley coal sent by canal left Mount Patrick, Saturday, April 19 by a bat numbered 76, with 43 tons. Captain C. Faunce in charge, the shipment was consigned to Thomas Borbridge, Columbia, Pennsylvania.
1845: The first railroad from Lykens to Millersburg was worn out.
1848: Railroad from Lykens to Millersburg regarded and laid with T rails. Wiconisco canal built. Coal shipped in lumps until the Lykens Valley Breaker was built and assorted sizes were obtained for shipment. The town of Lykens laid out in lots by Edward Gratz.
1856: The first newspaper in Lykens, August 16th, called “Farmers and Miners Journal.”
1869: The Breaker destroyed by fire.
1870: Lykens Valley Slope and Short Mountain Slope began operation.
1876: Bull Engine House fire. Purchased a sawmill and gearing on the Lykens Valley side. Drove the Water Drift.
1877: Short Mountain Slope fire, January 1st, miner’s idle the entire year.
1879: Built Buckwheat Breaker. Purchased Lykens Valley Slope Engine.
1880: First telephone installed on Short Mountain Slope, it being the first telephone in Williams Valley. Sinking Lykens Valley Slope from No. 3 Level to No. 4 Slope Counter.
1881: Erecting boilers at Lyenes Valley Slope. Reopening old Bear Gap Tunnel. Shafting on mountain.
1882: Improved old Breaker. November, fire in column way to pump. Reopening Short Mountain Drift, Mr. David Gemberling, miner.
1883: Sinking No. 4 Slope.
1884:Erected Jig House and machinery. September 16th, explosion of boiler Lykens Valley Slope house. Purchased No. 4 Slope engines.
1885: Lykens Water Works connected with Coal Company, completed from Lykens Borough to Pumping Station, then through Wiconisco.
Twelve new boilers placed outside and six more ready to be placed. Abandoned outside Railroad Car plane, running from Retail Yard south to Pennsylvania Railroad Tracks. No. 4 Slope completed and fully opened. Two pumps removed from Big Lick Station and placed in No. 4 Slope, thus abandoning the pumping station at Big Lick. Two large pumps placed on No. 2 and 3 levels, Lykens Valley Slope, with the boilers near them.
1886: How boilers were placed which are being changed: 6 at No. 1 Level Little Vein Seam, 6 at Breaker, 4 at Saw Mill, 2 at Jig House, 33 and 2 Heaters Bull Pump Station, 12 at Head Lykens Valley Slope, 12 at Head Short Mountain Slope, 2 at Fresh Water Plant, 12 at Big Lick, Outside, 8 at Big Lick, Inside. Purchased Locomotive. Began installing Bun and Dodge Dirt Conveyor. January 5th, began to build new channel, bridge across turnpike flumes and culverts at Bear Creek. Telephone line from Lykens to Millersburg completed. Gravity Plane drove 500 feet in Whites Vein. Purchased 1 pump for No. 4 Lift and 821 feet of column pipe. Purchased 1 new pump for No. 4 Slope and 600 feet of column pipe. Purchased 2 new fans, 25 feet disc each.
1887: Tore down Boilers, 12 Head Short Mountain Slope, 4 Head Lykens Valley Slope and 2 at Saw Mill. Dirt Conveyor completed and Buckwheat Conveyor erected. New supply store completed, two stories with basement. Erected Foreman’s office. Powder House completed. Division pay office erected- Lykens.
New Breaker foundation about completed, breaker being framed. Purchased a steam locomotive for No. 3 Level. Erected first Electric Plant aside of Whites Vein Drift and began purchasing Electric Locomotives. October – 10% increase in wages.
1888: Six more boilers put near old Supply Store. Tore down balance of 8 boilers from head of Lykens Valley Slope. New breaker completed, about May 1. Bear Valley Creek culvert completed. Put up wrought iron stack near old Bull Pump. Tore down old breaker. Extending Blacksmith Shop. Moved old shop and turned it into Locomotive House. Rebuilding Lykens Valley Slope head house. Additional tanks for water supply, Bear Gap Tunnel Level. New plane at No. 4 Slope nearly completed.
1889: Boilers in service this year: 12 at Bull Engine Section, 2 turned from heating to making steam. 20 at New Station, called No. 2 Boiler House near old Supply Store and 2 at the Fresh Water Plant. Tore down 6 boilers at Breaker, 2 at the Jig House and 20 at Big Lick. Extending No. 2 Boiler House, erected 6 boilers. Separator built to New Breaker. Completed the walls and bridge along Bear Creek. May 31, great rain storm, Bear Creek went wild tearing away the sides of the new channel, and damaged bridges and stone culvert. (Note: Same rainstorm that caused the infamous Johnstown Flood and wreaked havoc across Pennsylvania.)
1890: New boiler house and 6 boilers rebuilt at Fresh Water Pumping Station. Trestle leading to and over old and new boiler houses completed.
Tunnel track to Plane from Bear Gap Tunnel. Bear Gap Tunnel completed to Red Ash Measures.
1891: Purchased engines for Short Mountain Slope. Erected Motor Line from Bear Gap Tunnel to Drum Plane near car shop. Built road from Lykens to Wiconsico. Purchased boiler for No. 1 Pump Engine. Finished pump-way No. 4 Level, now No. 5 Level to No. 2 Level, and the No. 1 Shaft.
1892: Railroad track extended to Colliery to deliver timber and heavy supplies. Erected a sawmill at the Timber Bank on Short Mountain side.
Purchased new Diamond Drill. Built hay shed. Placed Compound Duplex Pumps at No. 4 Slope.
1893: Purchased Electric Locomotive for service between Bear Gap Tunnel and Gravity Plane. Cameron Pumps from No. 4 Slope placed to pump water to Colliery. Reopened old Lykens Valley Water Level Drift over the top of Lykens Valley Slope. Sinking Lykens Valley Slope into part of No. 4 Slope.
1894: Erected new Elevator on dirt bank. Built new separator screen, elevator and conveyor. Started to build breaker addition and jigs. Erected new water tank. Purchased automatic boiler feed. Purchased new Electric Locomotive. Purchase gas testing machine. No. 4 Slope drowned out.
1895: Breaker addition and jigs completed. This consists of screens instead of the Gyrators and twelve new jigs. A new conveyor, 288 feet long, links Belt Co., Monabor Type, erected from Breaker to Elevator on culm bank. Second New B. & W. Boiler installed, 304 horsepower at No. 1 Boiler House. The feed water for this plant is supplied by a new Duplex Pump. Laid a new 6” steam, gas pipe line 1665 feet from Boiler House to Breaker. Erected trestle 208 feet long and 52 feet high over Pennsylvania R.R. tracks to take rock and slate cars to rock bank, on top of culm bank. Laid a new 5” steam, gas pipeline 840 feet long from No. 3 Level to bottom of No. 4 Slope. Laid a new 6” steam line 350 feet long from main line to No. 4 Slope Engine. Electric Haulage extended 2680 feet in Lykens Valley Vein, Bear Gap Tunnel. Fifteen gangways are producing coal.
1896: Built conveyor from Breaker to Separator and addition to jigs. Car shop burned. Openings: Short Mountain Slope, Lykens Valley Slope, Bear Gap Tunnel, Whites Vein Drift-West, Lykens Valley Drift-East
1897: Erected one set B & W Boiler, 500 horsepower, at Bull Engine House. Extended motor line in Whites Vein Drift, Short Mountain, 1800 feet. Steam line laid from fresh water pumping station to stables.
1898: Erected 500 horsepower boilers in Bull Boiler House. No. 8 Steam locomotive purchased, making 3 now in service. Addition to locomotive house.
New retail coal pockets finished at Millersburg Pier.
1899: November, 9, fire destroyed new boiler house, slightly damaged the boilers. Started to install hoist for Lykens Valley Slope, which was purchased for a Water Hoist at Williamstown Colliery.
Originally posted by Jake Wynn on PAHistorian Blog,7 February 2013. Transcribed and edited from handwritten and typed notes of Guy Scheib and Mary Scheib. The picture is from an old post card entitled, “Coal Mining: Hauling Away the Slate.”