Description of the Mine Tower Hill 2 Mine & Coke Ovens, Tower Hill Pennsylvania
The Tower Hill No. 2 mine and coke plant is situated adjacent to the south side of the company town of Tower Hill No. 2 in Luzerne Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Tower Hill No. 2 was a bituminous mine that opened in 1907 and contained both extractive and processing facilities. The vacant site includes a number mine buildings, structures and landscape features situated on tax parcel number 19-27-0037. The property was owned by Carbon Fuel Resources, Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1990.
The majority of mine resources are situated adjacent to either side of an access road leading generally southwest from the company town. The condition of the buildings and structures vary from foundation ruins to nearly intact building shells. When the mine closed, almost all metal was salvaged and sold as scrap. All machines and engines were removed, but their footings and fitting survive. Although the windows and doors are missing from most buildings and the roofs are collapsing, the form, fenestration, and function of the buildings are still easily discernible.
The first building encountered when proceeding down the hill from the town is set back from the northwest side of the access road approximately 65 feet at a bend in the road. The building functioned as a water filtration plant. Its rectangular plan, masonry walls are banked into a hill. The plant stands one story with its basement exposed on the south and east sides. The basement story is poured concrete, and the upper story is brick laid in fivecourse common bond. The water filtration plant is approximately 32 x 34 feet in plan and stands 18 feet tall. The ridge of the missing gable roof ran generally north-south. Some window and door openings are discernible. The east and south walls of the lower story both contain one door opening. The upper story lacks fenestration except along the south wall, which is arranged in a window-window-window-door-window window pattern from the west. The windows and doors are missing, but the openings retain simple concrete sills and lintels. Four parallel concrete walls extend north from the north wall of the building. The approximately 1 foot x 42 foot walls stand approximately 7 feet tall. The proximity of the walls to the building suggest that they were part of the water filtering process, but their exact relationship is unknown. This filtered water served the town as well as the mine.
Proceeding down the access road, the second building encountered is the lamp house, which is situated south of the water filtration plant and adjacent to the access road. A lamp house is where the lamps that miners attached to their hats so that they could see in the depths of the mine were stored. These lamps were dropped off at the end of a shift to be refueled and picked up again at the beginning of the next shift. The lamp house also contained a locker room for the miners. They would exchange their street clothes for their work clothes in this building. Most likely, the clothes were stored in pails that were hoisted to the ceiling by ropes and pulleys, as was common practice in the bituminous region of Pennsylvania. The brick lamp house is rectangular in plan. The walls are laid in five-course common bond and rest on a stone foundation. The building is approximately 39.5 x 97 feet. Although it is only one story, it is quite tall at 28 feet. Stairs lead up a small hill from the access road to a central door on the east side of the building. The roof is missing, but extant metal trusses indicate that the roof was gabled and oriented north-south. The building is eight-bays wide by three-bays deep. The window and door openings are crowned with concrete lintels, and the sills are brick. Large door openings are situated on the south and west sides of the building and possibly the north (deterioration and overgrown foliage made examination of this facade difficult). Standard door openings are situated opposite each other on the east and west sides. The remaining bays contain tall windows. No evidence of the window frame configuration survives. Each bay is framed by simple brick pilasters with brick corbeling above and below. The gables are also framed with brick corbeling. This decoration is typical of industrial buildings dating to the early twentieth century. While the corbeling is decorative, the pilasters may serve a specific function. Metal posts that would strengthen the buildings may be enclosed within these wider sections of brick.
A smaller brick building known as the stair house is situated approximately 30 feet west of the lamp house. The gable roof of the stair house runs parallel to that of the lamp house. Metal roof trusses are visible, but the roofing is missing. This building is rectangular in plan, stands one story and is constructed of five-course common bond brick. Brick pilaster and corbeling also adorn this building. The building is two-bays wide by one-bay deep, measuring approximately 12 feet x 24 feet. It stands 16 feet tall. The only opening in this building is one large door located in the southern gable. The opening has a concrete lintel. This building sheltered stairs that lead down to the mine.
A fan house is situated adjacent to the west side of the access road and stands approximately 50 feet southwest of the lamp house. The fan house has an irregular plan and stands one story. It has a concrete foundation and brick walls laid in five-course common bond. Terra cotta bricks covered with concrete line the interior walls in some places. The building is approximately 40 x 88 feet, and it is 15 feet tall. The roof appears to have been a simple concrete slab. The building is largely collapsed, making it difficult to determine the fenestration pattern. While it may have had several doors, the walls do not appear to have been pierced with many windows. The eastern section of the building contains a room that is dominated by a large, irregularly shaped, concrete machine footing with metal anchor pins. Two large fans, which circulated air into the mine, were located in the western half of the building. Two exterior walls and two parallel interior walls comprise the fan housing. The walls stand 7 feet (2.1 meters) apart. A circular pocket framed in header bricks that is centered in the northern exterior wall served as the footing for a metal driveshaft that turned the fans. The two interior walls are just over 1 foot thick, and both contain large circular openings measuring approximately 14 feet in diameter. Presumably, the fans turned inside these openings. The air shaft to the mine was located adjacent to the northwest side of this building.
Two irregularly shaped, short concrete walls are situated southwest of the fan house. These are the remnants of an office building that burned since the mine closed. A long concrete draught system, or heating duct, is located between the office ruin and the access road. This structure varies between 4 and 5 feet wide. It stands approximately 5 feet tall and 84 feet long. The system is enclosed on all four sides and has a hollow interior. It was devised to drive surplus heat from the ovens to the boilers.
A concrete drainage gutter is situated adjacent to the northwest side of the draught system. The gutter is between 3 and 4 feet wide and is approximately 28 feet long. A concrete footing is situated southwest of the office walls, culvert and gutter. It stands 3 feet tall and measures approximately 6 x 18.5 feet. Its function is not apparent.
A large, three-course common bond brick building is situated on the northwest side of the access road, southwest of the concrete footing. The building, along with another long frame building that once stood to the rear (northwest), served as a stable. The two buildings were connected by concrete watering troughs that survive extant. This building has suffered fire damage, and the roof and north walls are largely collapsed. The fire consumed the frame stable. The extant stable building had a front gable roof (oriented southeast-northwest) which was supported by metal roof trusses. A wooden cornice lines the roof. Pictures from the early 1990s indicate that three wooden, gabled ventilators were perched on the roof, but no evidence of the ventilators survives. The one-story building stands approximately 20 feet tall. Its plan is approximately 39 x 100 feet. Two large door openings are set off center along both gable walls. Evidence of metal tracks that once held sliding doors remains along both walls. A single window opening, with an extant wood surround, is centered in the east gable. This opening once held a double-hung sash window. The side walls of the building are pierced by a row of window openings situated just below the roof. These openings once contained six-pane windows.
The resources situated on the southeast side of the access road are most easily approached at ground level from the southern end of the access road due to a steep slope between the resources and the road. A concrete ramp supported by a concrete wall is the first structure encountered when proceeding northeast from the access road. The ramp is oriented north-south with the concrete support situated at the north end. The ramp is approximately 1 foot thick, and it measures 12 x 35 feet. This resource is a later addition to the mine and served as a truck ramp.
The remains of the tipple are situated approximately 100 feet northeast of the ramp. A tipple is a tall metal framed structure that lowered and lifted coal or men in cars between the surface and the mine depths. The tipple footing is 12 x 20 feet. Three parallel concrete walls are situated adjacent to the south side of the footing. The walls are approximately 2 feet wide, 25 feet long, and 3 feet tall.
A large building that contained the generator is located approximately 85 feet northeast of the tipple ruin. The generator building is rectangular in plan, stands one story, and its gable roof is oriented northeast-southwest. The building measures approximately 37.5 x 51 feet, and it stands 30 feet tall. This building is similar in form and style to the lamp house and the stair house. It is two-bays wide and four bays deep, and similar brick pilasters and corbeling adorn the walls. The walls are brick laid in five-course common bond and rest on a fieldstone foundation with a concrete cap. The roof is constructed of metal trusses and sheathed with composition shingles. Two metal ventilators are situated along the ridge of the roof. The windows and large door openings have concrete lintels and sills. The building is equipped with electrical conduits and sockets. The interior of the building is dominated by a large concrete machine footing near the southwest wall and a shaft enclosed in a brick room in the east corner. An arched door is centered along the northwest wall flanked by another smaller arched opening set off-center.
A stone pad indicates the location of the boiler building. The boiler building also contained the shower room. The pad is situated adjacent to the southeast wall of the generator building. A thorough examination is difficult because the pad is cracked and overgrown with vines.
A second access road runs from the first access road generally east-west. It lies to the south of this cluster of buildings and structures. The ruin of another building stands south of this access road and east of the boiler building. A deteriorated concrete pad indicates the location of a multi-use building which contained the blacksmith shop, carpenters shop, and electrical shop