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About Boswell

Boswell, Pennsylvania

 

 

 

 

Boswell is a borough in Somerset CountyPennsylvaniaUnited States. It is part of theJohnstown, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,364 at the 2000 census.

 

 

 

 

 

Boswell, Pennsylvania
Borough
USGS satellite photograph of Boswell
USGS satellite photograph of Boswell
Boswell, Pennsylvania is located in Pennsylvania

 


 

 

 

 

 

History

 



Aerial view of Boswell and vicinity, May 12, 1939. Photograph was taken six weeks after the mine closed permanently. Note the coal tipple just outside the town, which was dismantled in 1940.

Boswell was settled in 1901 and incorporated as a borough on February 22, 1904. The community's founder was Thomas Taylor Boswell, the first president and supervisor of the Merchants Coal Company. Mr. Boswell's company purchased 14,000 acres (57 km2) of mineral rights under local farmland and laid out 1,600 lots for coal company houses to house the miners for its new deep coal mine just to the north. Merchants Coal, and the related Orenda Coal, were subsidiaries of Hillman Coal and Coke Company of Pittsburgh, the same firm that built the neighboring town of Jerome, Pennsylvania.

 

 


Houses and a church on Quemahoning Street

Merchants Coal attempted to build Boswell to be a notch above surrounding coal company towns in that plans included a central business district, a high school, and homes constructed from brick, as opposed to the wood used elsewhere. This also helped to prevent the spread of fire, in the event that one would break out. Many of the original brick homes are still standing, with much of their original integrity. A branch of the Baltimore & Ohiorailroad served Boswell and its coal mine. At its economic peak shortly after World War II, Boswell boasted two movie theatres, three department stores, a bank, several jewelry stores, a druggist, two funeral homes, three grocery stores, nearly a dozen restaurants and taverns, a lumber yard, and a weekly newspaper. Earlier, pre-Prohibition, Boswell also boasted its own brewery.

Boswell's streets generally run perpendicular to its avenues, in a grid. Many of the avenues in Boswell are named after coal company officials. For example:

At the same time, the borough's street names can provide a geography lesson, following the flow of water from Boswell to the seas, with two exceptions made for streets in the central business district. Street names from north to south are: Quemahoning, Stonycreek, Center (in place of "Conemaugh" for the Conemaugh River), Main (in place of "Kiskiminetas" for the Kiskiminetas River), Allegheny, Ohio, Mississippi, Mexico (for the Gulf of Mexico), Atlantic and Pacific.

The mine, Orenda Mine #1, extracted high quality, semi-bituminous coal. A steam engine hoisted the coal to the surface. The hoist pulled the coal cars up a coal tipple that was 1,080 feet (330 m) long, 92 feet (28 m) high, and 60 feet (18 m) wide. In 1920, this was the largest coal tipple in the world. At its prime, 900 men were employed and over 3,000 tons of coal were mined daily. The company was eventually renamed to the United Coal Company and in 1918 it became the Davis Coal Company.

For most of its history, the mine at Boswell operated without union representation. An early attempt to unionize workers led to an armed riot on January 17, 1904. Seven were wounded and 20 arrested in the melee. A prolonged struggle for unionization, which began at Jerome and Windber in northern Somerset County in early April, 1922, extended to Boswell on April 17. By April 24, 1922, miners at Acosta, Gray, Ralphton, Randolph and Jenners also joined the strike,which was to last sixteen months. (For a more detailed discussion of the strike, see the wiki for Jerome, Pennsylvania.)

 

 


A view of Boswell's mining operation in its prime: The coal tipple can be seen crossing the left side of the photograph. Near the center-left is the steam engine that pulled the cars on the tipple. In the center is the power plant with its three smokestacks. The railroad tracks that ran through town can be seen in the center of the photograph. The foreman's home is seen on the far right of the panorama.

 

 

 

 

Environmental impact of mining

 

 


Drainage from the Boswell mine was a primary source of pollution into Quemahoning Creek, which flows just north of Boswell. Aremediation project was completed in 2005, spearheaded by SCRIP (Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project), a non-governmental organization, in collaboration with OSM, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy, Somerset County Conservation District and Reliant Energy. In addition, the Jenner Rod & Gun Club, a local sportsmen's club, provided significant funds to purchase property for the remediation site.

The discovery of the purple fringeless orchid, an endangered species, within the remediation site complicated the project. The plants were relocated successfully to unimpacted wetlands immediately adjacent to the remediation site in 2004.

The most recent information showed the system is treating between 1,600 and 2,000 gallons of water per minute, removing approximately 80 tons of iron a day from the water.About 3,000 trout were stocked successfully into a four-mile (6 km) section of the Creek downstream from Boswell in 2005, the first time the creek supported a fishery along this stretch in almost 100 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boswell,_Pennsylvania

 

 


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