Friday, January 25, 2008

Miner's Memorial in Everettville, WV

The members of the Everettville Historical Association are working hard to raise enough money to erect a Miner's Memorial on the site of the Federal No. 3 Mine Site where 149 men and young boys lost there lives many years ago. EHA President Carol Thorn has herself lost a relative to mining when her grandfather, Harold Gordon Smith, was killed in an accident at Arkwright No. 1 mine in 1965.

The EHA has lofty goals of not only a memorial but an entire park dedicated to miners and the collective coal mining heritage. They have come a long way already with the 25 acre site of the Federal No. 3 mine donated by Consol Energy. Word has it they are only about $5000 away from making the memorial a reality.

The memorial has already been designed and will contain all 149 names of the miners killed at the site. Many had been buried in pauper's graves with no marker so this would be the first and only memorial to their memory. It will measure 8 feet high and 18 feet long and will display names, dates of death, and miners logos on both sides.

They are having a fundraiser "elimination dinner" to raise the additional funds. The tickets are being sold at $25 each or 2 for $40. The prize is $1000. To buy tickets or make a donation, contact Carol Thorn at

Early Rostraver and Elizabeth Townships in PA

Information taken from the Bi-Centennial Book - Between Two Rivers
Rostraver Township, one of the original townships of Westmoreland County, was established on April 6, 1773. The first boundary began at the mouth of Jacob's creek and ran down the Youghiogheny River to where it joins the Monongahela; then up the Monongahela River to the mouth of Red Stone Creek, and then by a straight line to the place of the beginning. Alexander Mitchel and Samuel Biggard were the first elected overseers of the poor of the township and Eysham Barnes was elected supervisor.

Early families of the township were: Howell, Findley, Weddell, Poser, Fullerton, Pinkerton, Houseman, Robertson, Caldwell, Steel, Wilson, Hutchinson and McClure.

Some believe that the first real settler in what was called Rostraver Township was Joseph Hill who came from Cairall County, Maryland in 1754. When he was about 18 years old he had made considerable improvement on lands which he occupied near where Braddock's Army passed through the township in the following summer. His lands were near the Rehoboth Church.

The territory that is known as Elizabeth Township was part of Rostraver Township and the county seat was at Hanna's Town, three miles from Greensburg. In fact, in early years Elizabeth Township formed a part of the three counties of Bedford, Westmoreland and Allegheny. This area was included in the large tract of land that was granted to the Penn Family by the King of England, "in appreciation for services rendered."

Under the terms of a treaty of November 5, 1768, all territory from a point where the Susquehanna passed the New York line, down to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania including the Allegheny, Conemaugh, Monongahela and Youghiogheny river valleys was called "The New Purchase" and embraced Westmoreland County. By an act of September 24, 1788 Allegheny County was organized from Westmoreland with the following townships: Moon, St. Clair, Mifflin, Versailles, Plum, Pitt and Elizabeth (named for Elizabeth Bayard).

Excerpted from

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hope and Hard Work Trainings


Greetings! The Eastern Coal Regional Round Table is seeking determined
citizens' groups or organizations that are concerned with cleaning up
their local watershed, improving their community and learning how to
find the money to make improvement possible. The ECRR is offering the
opportunity to participate in a three-part training program called Hope
and Hard Work.

Spring training sessions will occur during March 26th-28th at Canaan
Valley Resort for Northern Coalfields groups and April 9th-11th at
Breaks Interstate Park for groups from the Southern Coalfields. The
ECRR will cover participants' lodging, food, and registration expenses.

Each attending group representative will participate in one of two
course tracks; water quality monitoring and fiscal sustainability. The
water quality monitoring track will teach groups how to effectively
monitor acid mine drainage (AMD) and wastewater contamination and how to
use this data to obtain funding to implement cleanup projects. The
fiscal sustainability track will focus on obtaining funds to build the
size, effectiveness, and capacity of your group or organization. A
topic based agenda can be found on the next page.

Two representatives from each group must commit to all three sessions -
the spring training, the summer practicum and the fall training.

We hope that you will join us in embarking on this exciting project to
restore Appalachia's watershed communities! If your group is interested
in this opportunity for free training focused specifically on the
coal-impacted counties of Appalachia, please contact us by email or by phone at 304.329.8409. If you know of other groups that may be interested in
participating, feel free to pass along this information!

We look forward to building new partnerships with you that will
strengthen and expand on the good work of groups like yours in Coal

Sincerely yours,

Sarah Walters

Eastern Coal Regional Roundtable
119 S. Prince Street, Suite 209
Kingwood, WV 26537

Monday, January 14, 2008

Get out and enjoy nature with some winter hiking

The weather has been decent so why not dust off those Nikes and get out and enjoy nature. I recently enjoyed the Yough River Trail between Cedar Creek Park (near Belle Vernon) and Smithton. Even in winter it is beautiful and I can't wait to see it in springtime. This section contains a marker for the location of the Port Royal Mine shafts and remembrance of the disastrous explosion due to a buildup of damp gas occurring in the early 20th century. Several miners were entombed and many would be rescuers killed. Interestingly, I also read that there had been three mine tunnels under the river connecting the mines on either side, something I had heard about but thought was just legend.

This sight has nice facilities, mostly closed for the season, but has pit toilets still open to the adventuresome. There is seasonal bike rental, camping, a trail shelter and boat access. A very nice area I plan to explore further next weekend when I hike the Cedar Creek Gorge Trail. The marker says there is a century old apple tree to see along the trail to reward my efforts.

There are not a lot of hikers out this time of year so trails are peaceful and quiet, just me and my dog. So why don't you get out there and enjoy it too. And if you need someone to hike with, drop me a line. See you on the trails.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Keelboats and more

Keel-boats were some of the first vessels to sail the Monongahela. These large, flat river boats were used to haul freight and were controlled by oars. The keel-boat had walkways along the sides for men to propel the boat with poles. They would stand at the bow facing the stern, stick a long pole into the river bed and walk toward the stern, thus propelling the boat forward. The only way to make a return trip in a keel-boat was to pull her against the current, using ropes and trees for leverage. Being that this was exceptionally hard work, keel-boats were usually just disassembled at their destination. The wood would then be recycled into houses and whatever else was needed.

Brownsville, PA was a
n early hub of commerce due to it's location on the National Road and the Mon River. Laid out in the early 1700's, Brownsville quickly became a keel-boat building center. Soon steamboats were being built there as well. As mentioned in a previous post, the New Orleans was the first steamboat to sail from the Mon to New Orleans, but it did not return. The first ship to return was the privately owned vessel, Enterprise, built in Brownsville and owned by the Monongahela and Ohio Steamboat Company (owned by Fulton and Livingston).

First captained by Israel Gregg, the Enterprise was launched in 1814 and was only the 4th steamboat
west of the Alleghenies. She transported passengers between Brownsville and Louiville, KY proving that steamboat commerce could be practical on the Ohio River. Command was transferred to Henry Miller Shreve late that year to carry munitions cargo to American troops in New Orleans. On her return voyage the Enterprise became the first to make the trip from New Orleans to Louisville.

Check out this site on keelboat replicas called, appropriately enough,

More steamboat history:

Sources: wikipedia and,

Monday, January 7, 2008

Mon River Summit 2008

The Mon River Summit 2008 will be held on April 7, 2008 at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, WV. The summit is a place to discuss issues involving the Mon River in both WV and PA. Interested parties should contact me for more information.

Take a stand and get involved. Be a true Friend of the Mon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. I meant to publish this interesting tidbit last week, but computer troubles prevailed.

You may already know of the famed Mon River steamboat called the New Orleans, named for it's final destination. Built by Robert Fulton, L.R. Livingstone and Nicholas Roosevelt (ancestor to the Roosevelts of presidential fame), this mighty steamer made the very first trip from the Mon River in western Pennsylvania all the way to New Orleans at the Gulf of Mexico.

Some whereabouts in Ohio, while waiting for rains to bring up river levels, Nicholas decided to take a short trip back up the river just to prove it could be done. Upon his return, the waters were up but he was delayed further when his wife went into labor. They waited until the child was born, then finally went on their way.

The New Orleans was never meant to return to the Mon, but she did run a few supply runs on the Lower Mississippi before her retirement. She and her builders will be forever remembered as pioneers in the race to harness the mighty waters of our great nation.