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Preserving Our Local History

The Sewickley Creek watershed is located entirely within the political boundaries of Westmoreland County. In the 1780's to the early 1800's, this area was heavily lumbered. The lumbering made it conducive for charcoal manufacture for the charcoal iron furnaces and thus launching the iron and steel industry ( Van Atta 2002). The mining industry grew in the region during the late 1800's and 1900's.

Mines were constructed to mine the Pittsburgh Coal Seam. The mines had coke works with beehive coke ovens. The coal was mined for the ovens in Simpson Hollow, transported to a tipple by rail. Initially the ovens were charged by Laury's from the top through the tunnel head . After the ovens were charged, the coal was leveled and the door was closed. The oven was fired with air regulated by clay coating the brick on the door. The coke was pulled from the ovens by hand with a scrapper. It was then forked onto wheel barrows and transported to railroad cars. During World War II , the ovens were charged and pulled by machinery.

Sewickley Creek Watershed Association Coke Ovens

The Sewickley Creek Watershed Association participates in the preservation of the watershed's industrial past and strives to keep history alive, especially in relating the importance of our waterways.


Remnants of the coke industry can be seen in the watershed. The Association has acquired a battery of 50 double row coke ovens at Brinkerton. In an effort to preserve important part of our history , the Association has undertaken a trial restoration of one of the ovens using original techniques. Future restoration is to be completed as funding becomes available.


Sewickley Creek Watershed Association P.O. Box 323 Youngwood,Pa 15697-0323
Phone: 724-610-0829
Meeting Location: J. Roy Houston Conservation Center (WCD Barn), 218 Donohoe Rd, Greensburg, PA 15601
Scheduled Meeting: Third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m.