Montour Railroad 

Montour Railroad








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National No. 3 at Muse

Read Bob Ciminels' full report on the National No. 3 Mine.

Although National No. 3 closed in 1955, the tracks that formerly served the mine stayed in operation until the Montour was abandoned.  Chemical & Solvents Company had a facility on the old mine property that received both box cars and tank cars.
The Muse Spur (it wasn't called the Muse Branch until the 1968 timetable came out) was located at MP 25.32 and Muse station at MP 26.23.  Movement on the spur was eastward from Muse Junction.  Eastbound trains had to shove up a 1.8% grade and cars were not allowed to be left standing on the grade.
Muse Junction was station 117 with an east end connection off of the main track.  Muse was station 118 (National No. 3 Mine) with a derail on the supply track.  Less than carload freight was unloaded between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.  At all other times, freight was to be kept in the freight shed under lock and key.
Car reports for Muse Spur were to be given to the agent at Mifflin Junction by the first crew to service the mine.
By the time the 1968 timetable came out, the Muse Branch was designated a secondary track of no assigned direction and train crews could operate between Muse Junction and the end of the branch without train orders on the authority of the dispatcher at Montour Junction.  Maximum speed on the branch was 15 mph.
The only changes in the 1977 timetable was the MP for Muse Junction was lowered to 25.30.

Continuing eastward past Cowden Siding, we come to Muse Junction and the Muse Spur, built in 1921 to serve the National Mining Company’s National No. 3 Mine (National Mining was a subsidiary of the United States Steel Company).  National Mining owned and operated National No. 3 until December 29, 1942 when the deed was transferred to the H. C. Frick Coke Company, which operated the mine until at least 1947.  When the mine closed in 1955 it was owned by U.S. Steel, but when it was transferred from Frick to USS is not known. - Bob Ciminel

In September 1980, Gene Schaeffer photographed a Montour crew servicing the Chemicals & Solvents Company facility on the old National No. 3 site.  The Montour had two tracks at this location, one for box cars shown here and another for tank cars behind the brick building.

National No. 3 was almost on top of the Cross Creek Syncline.  Coal depth was 840 to 920 MSL, surface around 1,100 MSL.  Mine was almost 200 feet down.


A Visit to National No. 3
by Bryan Seip

There are a couple of buildings right beside where the loading tipple was, but we cannot find anything that shows they were part of the mine. They are not on the Penn Pilot photos, but can be seen on the current Google satellite. Where the Chemical Company was, were the offices, mule barn, supply sheds and I think an entrance into the mine. Nothing is left in that area now, except one pile of dirt with a fence around it. Something nasty buried there, I'm sure....I had one person in Muse tell me that there may have been another business use the tipple area after the mine was gone, but haven't been able to find anything about it.

This steel building is about 100 feet from the tipple, up on a hill, but we cannot find any indication of a railroad going to that location. There were a couple of spikes and ties in the area, but who knows???? Behind it is the remains of a concrete block building and about 50 feet behind that, down a bank, is a concrete wall that I believe was part of the mine tipple. There are indications of railroad tracks by the concrete wall.


This looks a lot like an engine service facility, but don't have a clue why it is there. (Bailey is not sure either, but he was checking it out.)  It would be one thing if there was something on the old mine pictures that is now gone, but these do not show on any mine pictures and are now still sitting there. They must have been built after the mine, but why??? And by whom??? There was a bath house next to the tipple, but I was told it was built of red brick - as were all of the mine buildings.

The concrete block building had no windows or interior plumbing that we could find. Not even electrical conduit on any of the walls. Concrete floor with a big door on one end and a side door or 2 is it. Perhaps a garage or storage building? It is about 24x48 - the steel building probably 20x100. Check the picture on page 60 in Gene's book. The concrete block building is about where the brick building (bathhouse) is sitting up behind the tipple. Everything is grown up in brush, trees and jagger bushes and the bank itself is different, perhaps when the tipple was razed and regraded. Also, there is a steel structure that looks like the part of the tipple over the tracks loadi



However, it is located about 400 feet north of the concrete wall and the tipple site. It does have ties leading right under it, but it is in the "wrong" place....... It seems to be near to where the switch would have been to go over to the Chemical Co/mine office area. Anyone?? Anyone?? More mysteries. 

That is what makes it fun to explore. Oh by the way- a story told to me - there were 2 sets of mules used to work in the mine, pulling the mine cars. One set was kept in the mine and the other outside in the barn. They were rotated, but perhaps only once a month. From working in the dark mine all the time, the mules were blind. I have a couple of other names of "old-timers" that were around when the mine was open, and will try to contact them for any info or pictures. 

Bob Ciminel:

There was a safety recognition award for National No. 3.  The mine operated between August 31, 1932 and January 1, 1935 without a fatal accident.  It produced 1,695,814 tons of coal over that period using 2,509,080 man-hours of work, 40% of which involved pillar extractions, the most dangerous form of mining.  The coal seam at No. 3 was between 60 and 66 inches thick.
For those unfamiliar with room and pillar mining, mines go through basically three phases of operation.  The first is development, where the main entries are driven to the property line.
The production phase begins with face entries driven to the right and left of the main entries, and butt entries are driven off of the face entries.  (Note: the terms face and butt were originally based on the cleavage planes in the coal seam.)  This essentially divides the mine into rooms with a pillar of coal supporting the roof between the face and butt entries and the adjacent room.
After each room has been mined to its predetermined length and width, and all entries and rooms have been completed in each section of the mine, the next phase, called retreat mining, or pillar extraction, begins.
During pillar extraction, each of the pillars between the rooms is re-mined to extract as much coal as possible without allowing the roof to collapse into the haulage ways.  In the early days of mining, the coal companies often turned the mine over to contractors to do the pillar extractions because it was so dangerous.
The photo below illustrates an example of a pillar that was re-mined in an old underground mine.