Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘coal mining’

Trail Run- A Coal Mining Town

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This overview of Trail Run shows many of the homes, the church and the mines.

In the valley between Byesville and Buffalo, the small town of Trail Run can still be found. Years ago this town was a booming coal mining area with 2000 residents. Let’s take a trip back in time to see what this town was like in the early 1900s.

Originally, this area served as home to the Delaware Indians, who lived along Rocky Bottom until the early 1800s. They traded lead for whiskey along their trail beside the run.

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Men worked in the mines to provide for their families.

After the Indians were chased westward, this area had only a few scattered homes. But when coal was discovered in 1888, the town of Trail Run, officially called Robins, began. This town had two strong coal mines. The coal vein was best at No. 1 mine, where it was 6′ thick.

Many working these mines were Slovaks, Russians and Hungarians – about 1000 of them. When they arrived at Ellis Island, immigrants were greeted with signs written in their native language telling them where jobs were available. Most of the coal miners could not speak English so perhaps a sign in Slovak held up near the dock would have told them that jobs were open in the coal mines in Trail Run.

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Trail Run Mine No. 2 is shown just before closing in 1928.

Life in the coal mines was difficult but better than being hungry. Cambridge Collieries built about fifty houses in Trail Run so the coal miners would have a place to live. Rent was $12 a month for a small house on a dirt street, which had no name.

Church attendance, baseball and beer were three of their main forms of recreation in the early 1900s. Since the mines were closed on Sunday, that was their day for a little entertainment. Later, a pool hall, dance hall and bowling alley were added.

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St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church served as home church for many of the Slavs, who worked in the mines.

Miners attended one of two churches in Trail Run. St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church welcomed the Slovaks, which made up a large percentage of the miners. Others attended Bethlehem Methodist, which still exists today.

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St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church had a large children’s class in  1914.

Five baseball diamonds could be found there. The coal mining towns all played each other, but there was a special rivalry between Upper Trail Run and Lower Trail Run. Baseball provided a great form of relaxation, which the families could watch and enjoy.

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Sikora’s Grocery on the corner of Trail Run Road and Robins Road was a popular place for supplies.

Often after the games, players would gather somewhere to drink a couple beers. There were two saloons in town. One of those bars, The Cave, was under Sikora’s Grocery. Or families might go to Williams or Checks stores for ice cream or candy.

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Men enjoyed visiting after church at Williams’ store.

Another way they might get something to drink happened in connection with the railroad. Cambridge Brewery would ship box car loads of beer barrels. If one just happened to fall from the train, a big party would ensue.

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Every day at least a hundred cars loaded with coal left Trail Run mines

Miners usually obtained free coal for their homes in much the same way. Since a hundred cars of coal left Trail Run daily, there was a good chance that coal might fall (or be accidentally pushed) from the train cars filled with coal. The children of the family would walk along the tracks picking up coal in a burlap sack, so their mother could cook and heat the house.

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Railroad track ran close to the first school at Trail Run in 1900.

The first school built in 1895 had a train track running beside it. When a train came by it was necessary to shut the windows to keep out the noise and the smoke.

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In 1923, this three-story, brick Community School provided education to grades 1-12.

However, in the 1930s, the mines shut down because people could get coal cheaper in West Virginia, Kentucky or Tennessee. Miners had to look elsewhere for employment. Some walked to work at nearby Senecaville, while others headed to Akron and Cleveland to work in the rubber and steel factories there. Population in Trail Run dwindled quickly.

Drive slowly through Trail Run some day while remembering those brave men and women who worked so hard to support their families in the only way they knew. Miners learned the value of hard work by working hard.

Trail Run is located in Ohio in Guernsey County south of Cambridge. Easiest route would be to take I-77, Exit 41 and head south on Vocational Road. Just past Bethlehem Methodist church, turn left on Robins Road. You will now head straight into Trail Run. Enjoy the adventure.

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Big Muskie Bucket Exhibited at Miners Memorial Park

Big Muskie 325 tons of earth in a single bite!  The Big Muskie took that bite quite easily while mining over twenty million tons of coal in  Muskingum County of Southeastern Ohio from 1969-1991. Today all that is left of the Big Muskie, one of the world’s largest draglines, is this bucket capable of holding many tons of earth.

Miners Memorial ParkOn a crisp winter afternoon, the curvy, scenic road happened to meander past the site of the Miners’ Memorial Park in Morgan County, Ohio where the Big Muskie Bucket is the centerpiece of the park. While the ground was covered in a light snow and the gates were closed, the sign said : Walk-Ins Welcome. That was invitation enough to explore a little closer. My footsteps were the first to leave imprints in the snow this January afternoon.

Big Muskie BucketConsidered one of the seven engineering wonders of the world, this bucket weighs 460,000 pounds empty. If you look closely in the bottom left of the picture, a teddy bear can be spotted on the left hand side of the bucket…and it truly looks like “just a drop in the bucket”! When you consider this is only the bucket of the dragline…well, the magnitude overwhelms you.  It has been estimated that twelve car garages could fit inside.

This massive mechanical wonder was last used by the Central Ohio Coal of American Electric Power, or AEP, in the rolling hills near Cumberland, Ohio. Lucky it was being used by AEP as this huge machine was run basically by electricity, using enough electricity daily to power over 27,000 homes.  Big Muskie had a crew of five and worked around the clock to take advantage of the lower nighttime per kilowatt-hour rate. When you check out the first picture, knowing the size of the bucket, you then realize how gigantic the entire Big Muskie really was, actually twenty-two stories tall!

The WildsAfter the land was mined, it was beautifully reclaimed as can be seen in this picture. The ground was smoothed, trees were planted, and it was again an inhabitable place for animals.  In fact, The Wilds, a haven for wild animals from all over the world, is located within a short drive and is where this picture was taken. If you look closely in the open range, you can spot a herd of buffalo grazing in the snow with a beautiful lake in the foreground. The Wilds is one of the largest wildlife conservation centers in the world with some type of safari available most of the year to explore nearly 10,000 acres of that reclaimed land.

Today, AEP maintains this Miners’ Memorial Park. It is a great place to relax, even on a quiet winter day, while strolling around the huge bucket. There are several areas available for picnics as well as a shelter, which houses displays on the Big Muskie when it was working as well as other information on the area. As land was reclaimed, many camping areas with lakes and fishing were included so it is a great place for family fun during the summer months.

Even though the Big Muskie is no longer in operation, coal mining is still an important occupation in these rolling hills. Warning: Watch out for fast moving coal trucks on every curve!

To visit the Big Muskie Bucket on your next visit to Ohio, travel I-77 and take Exit 25 in southeastern Ohio. Be certain you stay on Route 78 and after many bends and curves – a rollercoaster ride – of about 16 miles, you will arrive at the Miner’s Memorial Park. The area is open May – October, but you can walk in and explore at any time.  Be sure to stop and scan the hillsides.

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