Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Rocky Bottom’

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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Granny Rides the Interurban

Imagine what it would’ve been like to take a Gypsy Road Trip a hundred years ago. At that time a modern means of transportation in Guernsey County was the Interurban, a type of electric railway with light, self-propelled, electric cars. Midland Power & Traction provided the electricity from their location  on Foster Avenue at 2nd Street (recent home of Variety Glass) in Cambridge, Ohio.

Just for fun, let’s step on the Guernsey County Interurban and take a little road trip with Granny through Guernsey County on a summer day long ago. She has a special destination for her trip today, but will enjoy all the sights along the way.

All aboard for a ride into the past.

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Tickets could be purchased at The Electric Shop across from the courthouse.

Having saved her pennies for weeks now, it’s time to purchase her round trip ticket for a quarter. The Electric Shop on the corner of South 8th Street across from the courthouse is a handy place to get a ticket.

Cambridge Glass Company Baseball Diamond

This aerial shot of the old Cambridge Glass Company shows the baseball diamond, a popular weekend form of entertainment.

At the first stop on the trestle by the Cambridge Glass Company on Morton Avenue, glass workers wait. Many employees use this for their ride home after work, even on a Saturday. Granny notices the baseball teams preparing to enjoy the summer day. Looks like the semi-pro teams of Cambridge Glass Clear Cuts and Byesville Bobcats are ready to “Play Ball”.

Today a stop will be made at the Byesville Driving Park along Chapman Creek. Many depart the train at Stop #7, called Marjorie or Springfield, and walk about a quarter of a mile to the grandstands at the park to watch the horse races.

Korte

Korte’s Park had perhaps the only swimming pool in Ohio back in the early 1900s.

Others get off at Stop #9 and visit the nicest picnic area around at Korte’s Park. This is said to have been the only swimming pool in the state of Ohio, so quite a popular spot during the summer months.

Interurban Car on Byesville Depot Street

The Interurban rolls down Depot Street (now Second Street) in Byesville.

This Saturday afternoon when all the coal miners are shopping in Byesville, the Interurban has to slow down a little because of the miners and their families flooding this main thoroughfare. Coal miners were not welcome to shop in Cambridge, so Byesville was a busy town.

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Interurban passes over Rocky Bottom swimming hole, a popular summer hang-out.

Just outside of Byesville at Little Kate, the tracks lead over Wills Creek on a trestle. Granny’s eyes light up as she notices a sign on the cowcatcher that says “Haag Railroad Show”. That sounds like something she would like to see.

As you pass over “Rocky Bottom”, a favorite swimming hole for youngsters, watch out for skinny dippers.  Sometimes they make people laugh, and other times cause embarrassment to those riding the rails. Granny has to cover her eyes!

Trail Run Mine is a busy town with over 1500 residents. You have to be quick as the interurban only stops here for seconds unless there are milk cans, ice, dynamite, or other freight to unload. They must keep on schedule.

Interurban Vacation Bible Class in 1925

Vacation Bible class of Lucasburg and Buckeyeville stops for a picnic at Ball’s Grove.

Up on the hillside, Granny spots families having a picnic under the trees. There is a spring nearby and she has heard that Ball’s Grove (today the northbound I-77 roadside rest) is a perfect place for a family to enjoy relaxing while the children play tag or kick-the-can.

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Miners and mules line up outside Puritan Mine.

As the Interurban stops at Puritan Mine (Seneca Lane), coal miners get on board to head home for the evening. Granny fusses just a little to make sure they don’t get coal dust or grease on her best dress as she has almost reached her destination. The large cars have seats for forty-two, but often two hundred dirty miners will crowd on board, eager to head home for the day.

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The Interurban can be seen on the other side of the covered bridge leaving Pleasant City to return to Cambridge.

By the time the cars have made it all the way to Pleasant City, the end of the line, there is reduced power for the trip back to Cambridge. Voltage is so low that cars leave at a crawl with their overhead lights no brighter than lightning bugs. Now you can see why they need that new substation on Morton Avenue to provide power to the stations at Pleasant City and Byesville.

Today’s a  special day for Granny as it’s her birthday. Her sisters live in Pleasant City and greet her as she gets off the Interurban. They are amazed that she has come so far all by herself.

Granny is excited to tell them about the Haag Railroad Show that is coming next week. “Maybe we could all go see their trained bears, ponies and blue-faced monkeys. There’s always something exciting happening around Guernsey County these days.”

Wouldn’t it have been an adventure to take a Gypsy Road Trip with Granny on the Interurban?

 

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