Montour Railroad

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Clinton No 1 Mine

Bob Ciminels Clinton No 1 Mine Report

Clinton Block Mine
Dist. 2; Mine Index 2318; Frt. Grp 72
P.O. Clinton, Allegheny Co., Pa.
Ship   Imperial, Montour R.R.
Supt.  W.B. Bannister
Strip; Pgh. seam, 54" Th.
Prep. Equip.; Crusher; shaker screens; picking table; loading Booms
Power Purchased
Prop. leased; Life expectancy 6 yr.; Employees 60; 3 shifts; 1000 T. Daily
1945 Tonnage, 279,745
1946 Tonnage 258,022

After leaving Imperial and crossing Route 30, we make a slight detour up the Clinton Block Spur to the Clinton No. 1 Mine about two miles up the tracks.  The spur was built by the Clinton Block Coal Company in 1917 when the mine was opened.
In 1931, the mine produced 138,278 tons of coal, operated for 208 days and had 122 employees.  By 1932, production was down to 124,464 tons, but days worked increased to 226 and five employees were added to the payroll.  Two years later, production was down to 106,397 tons and the mine only worked 183 days, but now had 166 employees.  In 1936, production was back up to 123,125 tons over 189 days worked with 181 employees.
The next available data come from 1944 when the mine was being operated by Consolidation Coal (This would have had to be the Pittsburgh Consolidation Coal Company, althougth that company did not come into existance until 1946).  The mine was renamed the Clinton Block Strip Mine.  It produced 268,583 tons of coal, worked 308 days and did it with 58 employees.
Looking at production per employee, it is fairly obvious why strip mining had it advantages:
1931 - 1,133 tons per employee and 665 tons per day worked
1932 - 980 tons per employee and 551 tons per day worked
1934 - 641 tons per employee and 581 tons per day worked
1936 - 680 tons per employee and 651 tons per day worked
1944 - 4,631 tons per employee and 872 tons per day worked

Clinton No. 1 Mine was not technically “along the Montour,” it was located about two miles up the Clinton Block Spur on the north side of U.S. Route 30.  The mine was owned by the Clinton Block Coal Company (CBCCo), which was incorporated on October 26, 1917 with a capital of $600,000 by Robert McCarrell of Washington, PA.  By 1918, the company also began a strip mining operation on land east of the original mine site.

The Clinton Block Spur left the Montour main track a short distance east (railroad) of the Route 30 overgrade bridge and followed the North Fork of Montour Run on the west side of Route 30 to a grade crossing just south of the Burgettstown Road intersection.  The old right-of-way going up to the mine is about a tenth of a mile beyond the entrance to the Findley Township Sports Complex.  A passive acid mine drainage treatment facility was built on the old mine site in 2008 coincident with the construction of the Route 576 toll road.

Trains using the Clinton Spur (later named the Clinton Block Branch) would have to run by the trailing point switch at Clinton Block Junction, Milepost 9.97 (Trail Milepost 9.0) and then back into the spur and shove up to the mine. In addition to the Clinton No. 1 mine not being along the railroad, the Montour also did not own the spur.  It was built by the CBCCo in 1917.  At the time the branch was built,
the CBCCo said it would run no more than six trains per day at speeds not to exceed 15 mph.

Clinton No. 1 Mine was also operated by the Lebanon Block Coal Company of Imperial during part of 1920, but the CBCCo was the primary owner during the life of the mine. The mine was eventually taken over by the Pittsburgh Consolidation Coal Company around 1946.

Clinton No. 1 began as a drift mine with workings on both sides of Route 30, but also operated as a strip mine.  Underground workings primarily worked the coal to the northwest and southwest, with the stripping operations working to the northeast.  The tipple and rail spur were still serving the mine in 1939. The Pittsburgh coal seam did not extend beyond the town of Clinton, although several small mines operated along Clinton Road.  However, the Clinton No. 1 Mine was the primary exploiter of the seam between Imperial and Clinton, with the workings extending southwest to the intersection of Robinson and Burgettstown roads. 

The coal seam at Clinton No. 1 was located about 1,160 feet above sea level and surface elevations were between 1,080 and 1,200 feet.  This resulted in a self-draining drift mine that could easily be converted into a strip mine with only 40 feet of overburden needing to be removed to reach the coal.  Having the tipple and railroad spur already in place alsoimproved the economics of the strip mine.

These are maps of the Clinton No. 1 Mine on the Clinton Block Spur.

Note that the mine entry is at the outcrop (1,160 ft MSL), and the point where the Montour tracks cross US-30 is at 1,080 ft MSL. So, the tracks had to climb 80 feet in a relatively short distance up that creek bed. Looks like the tipple was at about 1,120 ft MSL, so they could still use gravity to bring the coal out of the mine. It must have been tough preventing runaways when picking up loaded coal cars on that steep grade.

1939 Aerial photo of the Clinton No. 1 Mine