Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘blacksmith shop’

National Coal Company Located in Dogtown in 1906

Miners crossed this old wooden bridge to work at  Minnehaha Coal Mine.

Workers used this old wooden bridge to cross from Buckeyeville to work in the Minnehaha coal mine.

Minnehaha isn’t a name most of us associate with the coal mines of Guernsey County. But the truth of the matter is there was a mine by that name back in 1906 located near what is today called Buckeyeville, or more commonly Dogtown.

     National Coal Company from Cleveland had heard of the success of the Byesville coal mines. They decided to purchase hundreds of acres and lease even more west of Byesville in an area that had no name. Their first concern was the lack of a railroad to the area.

Children - Main Street looking east

This group of children in Buckeyeville appears to be happy and they look neat and clean.

     So the company paid Pennsylvania Railroad to install a track from Byesville to the new mine. This included building three bridges to cross Chapman Run. National Coal Company felt that the Pennsylvania Railroad was charging them too much by increasing the number of crossties that were actually laid.

     They sent out a man to count the crossties. The man started the five-mile walk counting each crosstie but stumbled and lost count along the way. Not wanting to start over, he returned to National Coal Company telling them that Pennsylvania Railroad had actually laid more crossties than they were paid for. His secret was not known for sixty years.

     Once the railroad was completed, they began bringing all the new equipment into the site including a steel tipple, generators, a coal cutter, coal cars, and an electric locomotive. A wide slope opened down to the coal seam at Minnehaha.

Water tubs for 10 boilers. Need lots of water

These water tubs supplied ten boilers, which needed plenty of water to operate.

     When that mine opened in 1906, it was a very busy place. There were four boilers that made steam to turn two generators which created 250 watts of power. This was not to be used by the homes but to run the coal cutting machines and electric locomotives. The town nearby would not receive electricity until the 1930s long after the mine was closed.

rear of store in Buckeyeville

Children stand at the rear of the company store in Buckeyeville.

     Shortly after 1910, they began building houses in what is today Buckeyeville. By the time the mine closed, there were approximately forty houses in Buckeyeville as well as a company store, church, and school. There was no electricity or running water in the houses and rent was due the first of each month. The company store did have electricity!

Ad for Coal

This 1914 ad listed coal prices by the ton for retail rates. Check out their phone numbers!

     With a coal seam seven-foot deep in places, at its peak, 320 miners and 80 day workers worked the mine. During a good year, 500,000 tons of coal would be mined at Minnehaha in spite of the fact that in the summer months miners worked only a few days a week.

shop locomotive - ash and supplies to boiler room

This shop locomotive carried ash and supplies to the mine. Notice the electric wires.

     National Coal Company now had three mines in the area – Minnehaha, Little Kate Number Two, and Harryette. To provide electricity to all three mines they built the largest power plant in Guernsey County with ten boilers at Minnehaha.

     Eventually, there were nine mines open along the railroad to Byesville. These nine produced a daily output of 100 railroad cars of coal. These cars held between 50 and 75 tons each. Train crews said they were working “the Dogtown switch.” Why was it called Dogtown?

Kids parade on Main St. 19l17

These children of miners are having a parade in 1917.

     Beside the deep mines, there was a vein of coal that was not nearly as deep. Families sometimes dug into the hillsides in what was called a “scratch back mine” to get coal for their own use. Imagine working in the mine all day and then going home to dig your own coal out of the hillside.

     When they tried to pull this out of the hillside in small carts there wasn’t much room. It was found that dogs could do this task quite well so families raised dogs for work in the mines. Most of the time these dogs ran loose along the railroad tracks which is why the train crews named it Dogtown. Somehow the name stuck and many people still call it Dogtown today.

Union Hall Local #63 (1912) - Rev. Nathan Cramblett held church services

Rev. Nathan Cramblett held church services for miners in the Union Hall of Local #63.

     There was never a doctor in this area so injuries were not properly treated. Ten men died in Minnehaha. But that doesn’t account for the fact that many had injuries that maimed them for life. Fingers, hands, and feet were lost, broken bones ruined many miners’ backs, and black lung became a curse for most who labored in the mines. This was the most dangerous job in the world.

     Coal miners worked hard as they had to load all of the coal by hand using a pick and shovel. They had no vacations and were paid by the ton of clean coal that was loaded. Coal miners always worked on a buddy system for safety reasons. So that meant that when a ton of coal was loaded, that fifty cents had to be split between them. In reality, that meant twenty-five cents for each ton loaded. All of this for a two weeks pay of $15 or $16.

Blacksmith Shop

This blacksmith shop stood near the main road down to the mine.

     All of their supplies had to be purchased at the company store, which was one of the first things they built. Hard to realize that the miners had to purchase their own tools, props, and wedges.

     If you have heard stories of why this mine was called Minnehaha, please let me know. The name seems a bit of a mystery although it is a Dakota Indian name. Its Indian meaning translates as “rapid water” or “waterfall.” There was no rapid water or waterfall within thirty miles of the mine location.

1934 photo of Buckeyeville. Old wood bridge miners would use to go home from work.

This is a 1934 picture of Buckeyeville after the mine was closed. The bridge to work can still be seen.

     Minnehaha was shut down in 1928 after much of the coal was removed. The company found that they could find cheaper labor in Kentucky or West Virginia so when their lease was up, they moved to another coal mining area. While miners here were receiving fifty cents a ton for coal at that time, the miners in the other states were willing to work for about half that amount.

Dogtown Today

Today, Buckeyeville still exists as a small, friendly, unincorporated village.

     Never again would trains remove coal from a town that we now know as Buckeyeville or “Dogtown.”

Thanks to Dave Adair for providing information and pictures for this article.

Painters Hollow Overflows with Creativity

Jorgensen Greenhouse

Since they raise most of their own food, their greenhouse was the first thing Maggi and Gene wished to discuss.

Teamwork best describes the lifestyle of Gene and Maggi Jorgensen, the artistic couple from Painters Hollow near Salt Fork State Park. Working together, they have accomplished more than the average couple because they love what they do. “If we can’t have fun, we’re not going to do it.”

Farming runs in Gene’s blood as his dad farmed in New York and white-washed barns to help with expenses. For many years Gene worked as a sheet metal worker, which led him on varied adventures all over the United States and beyond. Once he even climbed a mountain in Peru.

Jorgensen Maggi

Maggi wears the first necklace Gene made using five quarters and trimmed in brass.

Maggi worked in the engineering department at NCR until its closing. Not wanting to transfer, she trained to become an RN. We’ll talk more about those necklaces she wore to work later.

Stopping by on a warm spring day, the first thing they’re eager to talk about is their garden, “We live out of our garden.” They even pick fresh lettuce from their basement all winter long.

Jorgensen Bales

Certain crops, like tomatoes and eggplant, grow best for them in bales of straw. The red ball rests on a decorative iron holder made by Gene.

Their small greenhouse provides the perfect place to start plants for transfer to their garden and straw bales, which produce a bumper crop of tomatoes and eggplant. Their newest experiment this year was starting strawberry plants from seed. It worked! Now they have a small strawberry patch as well.

Jorgensen Home

Their home is very important since they built it themselves with pine logs from their own woods.

The lumber for their home came out of their own woods. In 2000, they decided to build using square-cut, white pine logs with foam log tape in between to seal all cracks. This resulted in a beautiful home in the country.

Jorgensen Blacksmith

Gene’s dream of a blacksmith shop has become a reality.

Gene had always wanted a blacksmith shop. In 2005 when he bought a knife at the Salt Fork Festival, the gentleman told Gene about a blacksmith class being offered. Maggi thought it seemed like the perfect Christmas present. If someone took the class with Gene, they could do it for half price. The artistic Maggi took the class with him.

Jorgensen Library

Evidence for Gene’s skill at blacksmithing can be seen in the railings of their library.

Maggi made her first nail, a towel bar and towel rack in that class. Gene has metal creations all over the house inside and out. One of his favorites is making a cross out of a railroad tie. Now Gene has his own magnificent blacksmith shop containing a coal forge and filled with power tools such as: power hack saw, rod shear, punches, and stake plate.

This class has led them on an exciting new adventure. Gene had already been making jewelry for Maggi to wear to work. They were so popular that she sold almost everyone she wore.  Making copper jewelry became a favorite pastime with the blacksmith skills being used to make and repair needed tools.

Wishing to improve her natural creative talents, Maggi took watercolor and acrylic classes. They both want to make themselves the best they can be.

Jorgensen Necklaces

This is a sampling of the jewelry that will be on display at the Salt Fork Festival.

Their favorite metals for jewelry remains copper, which is always covered with a clear shellac. Recently, they’ve added sterling with brass and bronze for special touches.

Jorgensen Rings

Rings were a new item in 2017. Gene’s workbench shows the finished rings on the pliers’ handle.

In 2017, Gene began making rings. Five unique patterns come in various sizes. Watching Gene follow the steps for making a ring, it makes you realize how time consuming it is to get that perfect product. This work requires great patience.

Jorgensen Ice Box

Iceboxes are used for storage throughout the house. This one used for bathroom storagem originally served as icebox for Plainfield Store.

Their first show happened in 2011 at Octoberfest in downtown Cambridge. The following year they started sharing their products at the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. Maggi enjoyed coming to the festivals for years, but never expected to be showing at one. Now Painters Hollow Products have become a popular exhibit. Visit them in August at the Salt Fork Festival.

Jorgensen Gene

Gene enjoys his workshop where he can shape metal however he wishes.

Gene and Maggi are perfectly content on their farm. For them, it’s a good life and they never want to leave. They don’t even want to travel, except to craft shows, and their idea of a perfect evening would be sitting on their porch with a glass of wine.

I’ve got a blacksmith shop and the best partner anyone could have,” explained Gene. As for Maggi, “Life here is fun: the jewelry, garden and everyday life.”

Imagine everyone would wish for that kind of contentment.

 

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