Montour Railroad 

Montour Railroad








Working on the Montour

Sposato Stories


Railroading 101



Coverdale Mine No. 8

Pittsburgh Terminal Coal Corporation Mine No. 8 
(Also known as the Coverdale Mine or "H" Mine) 

Bob Ciminel - Roswell, Georgia

Read Bob Ciminel's full report on the Coverdale Mine.

The Coverdale Mine was located along the Montour Railroad between Library Junction and Brightwood. The mine's surface facilities stretched along what is now Industrial Boulevard in Bethel Park, a suburb of Pittsburgh. 

The mine was serviced by the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway, and before that the West Side Belt Railroad, using trackage rights between Salida and a point 2,000 feet west of the west switch at Coverdale Siding.  P&WV trains ran on Montour train orders issued by the Montour dispatcher.
Coverdale station was at MP 38.8 in the 1940 timetable and MP 39.12 in the 1968 timetable.  The mine was station 152 with a derail on the east end of the mine yard. That's about all the Montour timetables have to say about Coverdale.
A 1950 P&WV General Manager's Instruction describes how PWV and Montour trains entered and left the connection at Salida.
P&WV trains wanting to enter Montour tracks were controlled by the home signal 40 feet east of the P&WV/MTR switch at Salida.  When the switch was reversed for movement on to the Montour, the home signal would display a Restricting aspect.  Once the P&WV train was clear of the switch and lined and locked it, they would report "Clear" to the P&WV dispatcher.
MTR trains wanting to enter the P&WV track were governed by a dwarf signal at the clearance point, which would display a Slow-Clear aspect when the switch was reversed (with P&WV dispatcher permission) for movement from the MTR on to the PW&V.

The mine began operation in the Twenties and operated until 1947. It appears that the hoisting shafts and tipple were completed in 1922. Coverdale had one of the largest "patches," called Coverdale Village, in southwestern Pennsylvania. There were over 250 individual land lots, in addition to a large bunkhouse. 

Coverdale Mine Through The Years






Geologically, the mine was located on the McMurray Syncline, or underground valley, where the normally easy-to-reach Pittsburgh Coal Seam was 340 feet beneath the surface. Mines located on either side of the syncline could reach the coal through simple drift entries dug into the nearest hillside. The Montour No. 10 Mine, located south of Coverdale in Library, reached the Pittsburgh Seam through drifts driven into the valley walls of Piney Fork. On the plus side, mines that operated at the bottom of the syncline usually found a thicker coal seam. The seam at Coverdale could have been eight feet thick.

In 1922, the Coverdale Mine complex was considered state-of-the-art because of the modern electrical system, hoisting equipment, and coal processing system installed.

1934 Coverdale

The mine received alternating current (AC) electrical power at 22,000 volts from the transmission lines and reduced it to 2,300 volts using transformers. The power then went to the main switchboard where it was either converted to direct current (DC) for use underground, or distributed to the various surface facilities, such as the main hoist, auxiliary hoist, mine fan, and tipple.

To produce DC power, the mine had two motor-generator sets that used a 2300-volt AC, 433-horsepower motor to drive a 275-volt DC, 300-kilowatt generator. Underground power went down the shaft in two cable encased in metal conduit where one circuit fed the overhead trolley wire and the other supplied power to the coal cutting machines. In 1922, the mine was still using mules to haul the coal from the working face to the shaft, but the electrical system was designed for the eventual installation of rail haulage using electric locomotives.

Underground Map of the Coverdale Mine

Coverdale used an auxiliary hoist installed over the main air intake shaft driven by a 250-hp motor. Safety features include a speed limiting system, a switch to prevent over-winding the hoist and a recording system to show how the hoist was being operated.

The fan house was a brick building that contained the 200-hp, variable speed fan motor that drove the huge exhaust fan. As the mine grew and expanded, plans were already in place to upgrade the fan to a 300-hp motor. A small diesel engine could also be connected to the fan to operate it during power failures. Continuous ventilation to sweep methane gas out of the mine was one of the most important facets of mine safety.
The main hoist had its own generator to supply DC power directly to the hoist motor. A flywheel and strict regulation of current to the hoist motor allowed the hoist to operate at almost constant speed regardless of the load on the hoist. The main hoist only handled coal and slate and was rated to raise 5 tons of coal or 8 tons of slate (equivalent to two mine cars) using a 1.75-inch wire rope. The hoisting system was designed to handle 600 tons per hour, which equated to 240 mine cars an hour. The hoist could make a round trip in about 50 seconds.

The main shaft was rectangular with semi-circle ends and lined with concrete from the landing blocks to the shaft collar. It was topped by a 65-foot steel head-frame over the two hoisting compartments, which each contained a self-dumping cage capable of holding two 5,000-lb capacity mine cars side by side.

The Coverdale tipple was constructed of steel and concrete. The two pit cars that come up on the main hoist automatically dumped onto a scale at the top of the tipple. From the weigh pans, the coal either went to a screening table or was diverted to the run-of-mine loadout. The use of circular picking tables was unique to the Coverdale Mine, but they saved a lot of space compared to the rectangular tables used at most mines. Slate and rock were sent to a storage bin through air-operated gates and then taken out to the mine dump on an electrically-driven larry car.

Bob Ciminel 2009
Bob Ciminel created and moderates the following discussion groups on Yahoo:
Montour Railroad Historical Society (
Pittsburgh Coal Co. Historical Society (
PRR Panhandle Division - Pennsylvania (

This is a slightly worn, blue print of the mine track layout at Coverdale of Pittsburgh Terminal Mine #8 that was a exclusinve P&WV operation via trackage rights over the Montour RR from Salida to a point near present days Brookside Lumber. I uncovered ths layout print during a later visit to Rook long after W.N.P. and myself preserved the records stored inside. The General Office Bldg at Rook was, and still is in shambles. Windows missing, water everywhere from a leaky roof. During those first visits in the early 1990's, we could only access the GOB when a W&LE Real Estate employee was present, and only for a few hours during each visit. When you have so much material, its easy to forget what all is in the archives.
If this blue print was so darn big, I'd scan it. Whats really so neat, is the main track of the Montour RR is clearly defined - Gene P. Schaeffer