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19th Century Mining in Charlestown Township
Having lived in Charlestown Township for the better part of fifty years, it was a surprise for me to learn recently that well over 100 years ago mining was a thriving and large scale activity in and around our township.
At the October 2, 1997 meeting of the Charlestown Historical Society, Irene Ewald gave a fascinating overview of the history of mining in our township. Our report on that presentation can by examined by clicking here.
I obtained some materials on mining in our area from Irene Ewald after her presentation, and have since been provided with additional materials from other sources, including a former resident of Mine Road who collected several news clippings and reference materials as well as photographs of some of the remaining mine structures between White Horse Rd and Tinker Hill Rd.
Given the advantages and many limitations of communicating this type of information over the web, I have elected to present six fairly distinct.???ects of mining in Charlestown, largely in outline form, with some accompanying graphics in the form of maps, diagrams and photographs. Sources of various materials are indicated where appropriate, but a more complete bibliography is available here. The focus of the material presented here is the northern region of our Township, specifically the so-called Wheatley Mines and other mines in the area bounded by White Horse and Tinker Hill Roads. If materials become available on other mines in Charlestown, we may expand on this presentation at a later time.
In those cases where small images are included with text on a page, clicking on the small image will lead to the display of a larger image, up to 50kb in size.
If you find errors in the information presented here, don't hesitate to let me know, as I am new to this topic and want it to be accurate.
- Date Line
- This section simply lists the chronology of the major events associated with mining in the Township.
- This section focuses on where the mines discussed here are located. No attempt is made to identify every mine in the township, and as was noted in the presentation by Irene Ewald, there were also mines as far away as Bacton Hill.
- Images of Mining
- We have a few images of mining in Charlestown, some reproduced or recreated from materials published in the 1850's and 1860's, and others in the form of photographs taken in 1982.
- The Ore
- This section provides some information about the ore that was mined in Charlestown.
- Water Problems
- Water, basically too much of it, was a continuing problem for those mining in Charlestown, and ultimately, is the reason the mines were closed.
- Charles Wheatley
- We end with a brief biography of Charles Wheatley, the man who had the most to do with mining in Charlestown.
I want to thank Irene Ewald and Earle Hart for their own fascination with this topic that has resulted in their making a great deal of material available to me.
The primary source of the textual information is two series of articles in "The Daily Republican", one a seven part series in 1964, and repeated in six parts in 1970. Both series were written by John V. Norris.
In turn, these articles are based on the following
In addition, two local "mining enthusiasts" helped immensely.
- "The Geology of Pennsylvania - A Government Survey, Vol II" by Prof. Henry D. Rogers, published in 1858 by J. B. lippincott and Co.
- Maps and records of H. W. Arndt of Ardmore, PA, formerly a resident of Phoenixville who was interviewed by Mr. Norris.
- And interview with and correspondence provided by the late Mrs. Alfred Bendiner, a granddaughter of Charles Wheatley. Click here for more on Mrs. Bendiner, and especially her noted husband, Alfred Bendiner (1899 - 1964).
- Earle Hart, a former resident of Mine Road, provided photographs of the visible remains of the Brookdale Mine as well as copies of the Norris articles and Rogers book cited above.
- Irene Ewald, who got me started thinking about the mines of Charlestown through her presentation to the Charlestown Historical Society and who also provided copies of sketches, diagrams and maps presented here.
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