Trail Run- A Coal Mining Town
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.