Peters Creek Mining History

Peters Creek Mining History

Most of the Peters Creek watershed is underlain with high-quality, easily-mined coal deposits that outcrop on the slopes of many of the stream valleys. The close proximity of these valuable deposits to the many Pittsburgh area coke ovens and steel mills has led to extensive mining throughout the watershed.

Coal Tipple
Venetia, Washington County

Distribution of coal in Pennsylvania

There are two layers or seams of bituminous coal underlying the Peters Creek Valley. The Pittsburgh Coal Seam is the deeper seam, requires deep mining techniques to extract it and is considered to be one of the most valuable mineral deposits in the world. The Redstone Seam is more shallow and has been surface or strip mined. Bituminous coal is the most plentiful type of coal in the U.S. and is primarily used to generate electricity and to make coke for the steel industry.
The Clairton Coke Works is the largest coking facility in North America. Peters Creek can be seen entering the Monongahela River from under the Coke Works. Coking is a process which drives impurities from raw coal and makes it usable for steelmaking. The steelmaking industry developed in western PA in the late 1800's. The presence of a large coal supply, excellent river transportation, and the genius of Andrew Carnegie made the Pittsburgh area the center of the steelmaking industry.

Clairton Coke Works
Clairton, PA

Western PA Coal Mine Entrance

The first systematic mining of coal in our region occurred in 1761. Small coal mining operations were common throughout southwestern Pennsylvania during the 1800's. But it was the advent of the steel making industry during the late 1800's and early 1900's that really created a large scale coal mining industry in the Peters Creek valley. Mines appeared along the mainstem of Peters Creek from Venetia to Clairton and along most tributaries as well. The largest coal mining operation was the Montour #10 mine along Piney Fork in Library, PA. The mining industry employed a large work force and attracted a great many immigrants to the region. Many also lost their lives in these mines.
Little coal is mined in the Peters Creek watershed today but the legacy of our coal mining history is still evident in the form of "gob" or overburden piles, streams polluted with acid mine drainage, mine subsidence and coal patches throughout the watershed.

Pittsburgh Terminal Coal Company No. 7 Mine Coal Patch
Jefferson Hills

Acid Mine Polluted Stream
Lick Run Tributary
Jefferson Hills

Mining Gob or overburden waste pile along Peters Creek
South Park Twp