Review of Beadling shows it was more than soccer hub
In response to a recent column in which I reported a reader's suggestion that we include neighboring communities — such as Beadling, Heidelberg and Morgan — in our review of local history, Jim Fry suggested I use the book “Beadling Soccer Club, Pride and Tradition since 1898” as a reference. I was familiar with the book, which was published in 1998 in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Beadling Soccer Club. This was an excellent suggestion, and I was fortunate to find a copy of the book at the Bridgeville Area History Center.
Beadling was founded because of coal mining. The industry began in western Pennsylvania on Mt. Washington, then moved up the Chartiers Valley. The Pittsburgh Seam probably was the most valuable source of coal anywhere in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Because it out-cropped in the hills along Chartiers Creek and its tributaries — Painter's Run, McLaughlin Run, Miller's Run, and Robinson Run — numerous coal mines were developed in the area.
Mines opened up along the railroad between Carnegie and Bridgeville, at Hope Hollow, Heidel-berg, and at Bower Hill. A. J. Schulte opened the Bridgeville Mine, under Cook's Hill.
The Borland Mine was opened in the Panhandle, where Painter's Run joins Chartiers Creek. Farther up Painter's Run, the Panhandle Mine was opened close to the current location of Calabro Tire Service. Next up the run was the Essen Mine and then the Witch Hazel Mine, close to the current location of Bloedel's Auto Shop.
In 1883 three brothers — William, Thomas, and James Beadling — opened the Harrison Mine, at the site of what is now the Beadling Sports Club. The mine portal was close to that site. The mine extended east almost to Castle Shannon and north across Bower Hill Road at St. Clair Hospital. It quickly became known as the “Beadling Mine” and the area around it as “Beadling”.
The Pittsburgh, Chartiers and Youghiogheny Railroad (P C & Y) was chartered in 1881. Early in its existence it constructed a spur “up Painter's Run” as far as the Beadling Mine, including a tunnel through Essen Hill and several bridges across the run. Coal tipples, large timber structures used to load railcars, were located at the Panhandle Mine near the current location of the Bower Hill Auto Body Shop, at the Essen Mine near the current carwash facility, and at the Beadling Mine. For many years, the railroad was the principal means of access along Painter's Run; the wagon road along the run was unpaved and did not have bridges across the stream.
Like other coal companies, the Beadling Mine built company houses and operated a company store on behalf of the miners. Company houses were scattered along Painter's Run Road and up Robb Hollow Road. Most families could not afford to own a house — rental of a company house in 1900 cost six dollars a month. Water was obtained from springs or group pumps. Outhouses were inconvenient in the winter and a serious sanitation problem year-around.
Peak production at the Beadling mine occurred during World War I When 500 miners working two shifts a day produced 400,000 tons a year. The Beadling brothers sold the mine to Pittsburgh Coal in 1912; it finally was closed down in 1923. The miners found employment in other nearby mines, especially Coverdale and Mollenauer in Bethel Township, and in the steel and machining plants in Bridgeville.
Most families augmented their income by gardening, raising chickens, hunting small game, and picking wild fruits. Coal for heating their homes was picked up near the mine or dug out of the hillside from informal mines. Law enforcement was non-existent and apparently not required.
The social center of the community was the company store and its next door neighbor, the Beadling Hotel (in later years, Walt's Tavern). There also were three food stores, a blacksmith's shop, a shoe store, a barber shop, three dance halls, and a Moose Club. By 1900 Beadling had become a vibrant economic center, while “Upper St. Clair was mostly woods and farms, and Mt. Lebanon did not exist”. The post office was originally in the company store, but became a separate entity run by the Hoffman family in a building they constructed near McMillen Road, in 1917. It was closed in 1955.
My thanks to Jim Fry for recommending this book, and to Ken Ball and Ed Zak for the Beadling history they recorded in it.
A reminder – the fifth episode of “Bridgeville Remembered” will be presented today, Thursday, at 7 p.m., at the Bridgeville Public Library. Subtitled “A New Century, 1800 to 1825,” it will deal with local history in that era.
John Oyler, a columnist for Trib Total Media, can be reached at 412-343-1652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.