Relics of Steel History
Tucked away adjacent to the Great Allegheny Passage outside of Connellsville is a series of abandoned coke ovens, a relic of the nearly 38,000 structures that once covered the regional landscape around the turn of last century. Local miners unearthed a large, long-lasting seam of high-quality coal, which was perfect for baking in these beehive-shaped, stone or brick ovens. At high temperatures, this coal turns into coke, a valuable industrial fuel that is used in blast furnaces to smelt iron ore into molten pig iron, the raw material for steel. By 1913, the coke ovens surrounding Connellsville provided over half the country’s supply of coke, requiring 2,000 railcars to haul it away each day.
The remaining ovens are on private property, but are clearly visible near mile marker 93, especially during the winter and early spring when the trees are free of leaves..