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Success Stories
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Allegheny Ridge State Heritage Park
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America's Industrial Heritage Project


In 1985, the National Park Service (NPS) completed and submitted to Congress a study entitled Reconnaissance Survey of Western Pennsylvania Roads and Sites. The study proposed federal recognition of the region's significant cultural and natural resoures retlated to coal mining, iron and steelmaking, transportation, and related industrial themes, and promotion of a greater appreciation of their importance to the nation's past and present. Congress directed the NPS to make a more detailed study of the region's resources and develop a program to implement the concepts embodied in the study. Thus the America's Industrial Heritage Project (AIHP) was begun.

 

AIHP
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Subsequent studies showed that there are significant resources related to the history of America's industrial growth in southwestern Pennsylvania. Their preservation will ensure that an important element in our nation's history will be preserved for this and future generations, and also provide a boost for the area's economy in terms of tourism.


In this section we celebrate those projects brought to a successful conclusion by the ECHF and its partners.


As with virtually all efforts of large scope, numerous details and difficulties had to be addressed and overcome in each of the projects. We hope to provide an appreciation of the cultural significance of each project, its cost and how the various participants interacted to achieve a successful outcome. Where possible, historic details are provided to explain the impact the facility once had on life of local miners, their families, and the general community.


If your interest extends to the more technical aspects of the design or development of cultural heritage projects, we'll strive to provide more detailed information about the levels of effort involved, the array of details that had to be addressed, and perhaps some hints on how to avoid some of the harsher "lessons learned" in each project.


Project Perspective


Why were Windber and Scalp Level selected to represent coal mining in America's Industrial Heritage Project?


Scalp Level's Eureka Mine 40 was one of Berwind-White's biggest producers, and is one of the most intact early 20th century drift coal mines in existence. The mine's above ground structures and machinery (a tipple and separator, motor barn, fan house, railroad car repair shop, and wash house - all from the 1920's and 1930's) illustrate the nature and evolution of technology in bituminous coal mining, and the existence of the nearby coal patch community exemplifies the relationship between the mining industry and the associated life style of miners and their families.


Windber has a unique and special opportunity to serve as a focal point for the story of all aspects of a coal mining company headquarters town. It sprang up virtually overnight and was literally a self-contained community representing all that was notable about the Berwind-White coal mining company. Today, Windber still reflects the influence of Berwind-White at the height of its operations - e.g. public and private buildings, houses, churches, schools, ethnic diversity, and a local populace that is personally associated with coal mining.


However, Windber was not the "typical" company town. Although the company provided all the necessities of life for its workers - through the Eureka store, the rows of company-provided houses, and its own bank, hospital, library, and recreational facilities - the company also encouraged and provided space for competing commercial and financial enterprises. In addition, the compay built large, attractive houses as part of a package to induce doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other professionals to settle in Windber.


But Windber also shared many of the characteristics of other coal towns. It's housing was typical - management and prominent businessmen lived in large homes with spacious yards and trees, while mining employees lived in simple, 2-1/2 story wood duplexes. Berwind-White's management approach was also typical - with problems including the denial of civil liberties and the inability of residents to protest unfair labor practices and poor living conditions for fear of eviction and blacklisting.


The entire mining complex in the Windber/Scalp Level area can provide visitors with an understanding of the regional and national significance of the coal mining industry. Historical interpretation here, focusing on transportation, processing, and marketing factors, leads to a heightened appreciation of the role coal played in the nation's development. The social issues associated with life in company towns, the growth and influence of labor unions, and the meaning of the coal mining heritage can be explored through interpretation of the layout, use patterns, and management of the coal patch towns themselves in relation to the headquarters town of Windber.



The Allegheny Ridge State Heritage Park

Allegheny Ridge State Heritage ParkThe ECHF was proud to have its restoration efforts incorporated into the Allegheny Ridge State Heritage Park, which was established by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1992.  The goals of the program are to generate economic development opportunities, preserve and protect the state's magnificent natural historical and cultural resources, and enhance its intergovernmental regional approaches to planning and implementation of projects, and to educate visitors and residents about the state's heritage.

Path of ProgressThe park's 32 venues lay out the area's historical importance in the industrial and cultural development of the nation, showing how geographic obtacles to transportation were overcome, and how the area's resources, both natural and demographic, were applied to help the nation develop and succeed.  The roads connecting these venues for visitors have aptly been designated the "Path of Progress".

Seven venues in the Altoona area focus on the theme "Conquering the Ridge", showing how the development of rail transportation over the Allegheny Ridge helped open the west to industrial development.

Fourteen venues in Hollidaysburg and Portage celebrate the era of canal transportation that preceded the development of the railroads, as well as how both the canals and railroads supported immigration into the area and operation of the area's mills and mines.

Johnstown's six venues focus on life in a community built around the steelmaking industry.

Windber's four venues, all developed by the ECHF, were selected to commemorate the life of mine workers in the "Kingdom of Coal".