The following is typed from an article out of The Mountain Echo newspaper, Shickshinny, PA, April 16, 1897.


The West End Colliery

In May 1881 when the late Major Charles M. Conyngham and John Teasdale, under the firm name of Conyngham. Teasdale & Company, leased from the Leigh-Luzerne Coal Company and the Mocanaqua coal lands, Shickshinny business interests were given a stimulus that still abides. Under the direction of Mr. Teasdale the colliery was put in thorough order and the breaker repaired. The river bridge was replaced with an entire new structure. J.C. Tyrrell being the contractor. The output from the mines until the building of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in 1883, was shipped via. Jersey Central Roadroad, the tracks of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western being used to Plymouth by the Jersey Central. The colliery began with three hundred men, and the daily output was six hundred tons.

The West End Coal Company was formed in December, 1882. Charles M. Conyngham was president: Andrew Miller, treasurer: and John Teasdale, superintendent. There was no change in the management until April, 1886, when Herbert M. Arnold was elected treasurer. Mr. Arnold was agent of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Mocanaqua for three years, and his careful attention to the business of the railroad company leas to his elevation to a more responsible position. Mr. Arnold is a son of the late Reuben D. Arnold, and was born in Union township March 26, 1856. He was reared in Shickshinny and was educated in the public schools and at Wyoming Seminary. After teaching several terms he took a course in telegraphy under E.W. Garrison and became his assistant. The Pennsylvania road being completed at this time he became the agent at Mocanaqua.

Upon the death of John Teasdale, Lewis L. Sarge, who had been assistant superintendent, was promoted to the superintendency. Mr. Sarge at once opened up the mines and increased the collieryís output to the full extent of the breakerís capacity which was about eight hundred tons.

The colliery worked steadily and became unusually prosperous. Improvements were made in the preparation of the coal for market, and new openings gave ample work for all. Mr. Sarge is a native of Lebanon, where he was born October 6, 1845. He was reared in the Schuylkill coal region and knows all about an anthracite mine from top to bottom. His career began when he was fifteen years of age, and he worked himself up to his present responsible place by merit alone. His first position was mine foreman, which he held at the Keystone mines, Wilkes-Barre, for one year. For over three years he was mine foreman for the West End Coal Company and was an important factor in the success of the colliery. He left Mocanaqua to be District Superintendent of the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, where he had three collieries under his care. He remained for a year and a half with the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre, when he returned to Mocanaqua, in February 1891 to become assistant superintendent. The output of the colliery showed an increase the first month of Mr. Sargeís return, and has dept on increasing ever since.

The old breaker burned on Sunday morning, March 12, 1893. The flames had scarcely licked up the last piece of timber when plans were being made for a larger and more modern breaker. The debris was cleared away and by August the new breaker new was up and in operation. J.C. Tyrrell was the builder and he rushed the work to an early completion. While not the largest, the new breaker had a daily capacity of 1,000 to 1,200 tons, and was filled with all the latest machinery for the preparation of coal.

Major Conyngham died at Wilkes-Barre September 6, 1894. His death was a serious loss to the company and was felt by every employee. His generous and considerate treatment of his men made his death a personal loss.

John N. Conyngham, a nephew succeeded him in the presidency. Mr. Conynhgam having been schooled in the anthracite coal business at once entered into the practical direction of the business affairs of the company. He was born at Wilkes-Barre September 13, 1865, and being prepared at Hopkinís Grammar School, Hartford Conn., graduated at Yale College. His first connection with mining operations was with the Annora Coal Company at Lafflin. He helped in the opening of that property, where he remained from the fall of 1888 to the spring of 1892, when he resigned to take charge of the office of Conyngham & Company at Wilkes-Barre. This position he still holds in connection with the presidency of the West End Coal Company. John N. Conyngham is a director in the Parish Coal Company , Red Ash Coal Company and Anthracite Bank. He is president of the Pennsylvania Supply Company and also of the Humane Association of Luzerne. He is vice-president of the United Charity Society, and take a great interest in public and private charities. His father is William L. Conyngham and he is a grandson of the late Judge John N. Conyngham, whose honored name he bears.

The lease of the West End Coal Company expires in July. Negotiations have been pending for months past to secure a renewal. When the breaker burned on Monday, March 29, throwing 580 men and boys out of employment, the lease had not been signed, although the papers were ready for the signatures. The burning of the breaker, it was feared, would complicate matters somewhat but such was not the case. The lease was signed by all parties on Monday of this week, and all is bustle again at Mocanaqua. The scrap has already been shipped and the masons are at work preparing the foundations for a new and enlarged breader. Orders have gone out for material and by the first of August it is hoped to have the colliery in running order again. The new breaker will be a third larger than the one burned last month, and will be capable of preparing fifteen hundred tons of coal every day. A washery will also be added for the better preparation of the coal. The screen capacity will be almost doubled. In these days when the supply of about everything exceeds demand the best sells first. The management at Mocanaqua recognize this and will send out a product that will compare with the very best that the anthracite region produces. The breaker will not be let to a contractor but will be rebuilt by the West End Coal Company. This is done for the purpose of giving employment as far a practicable to the regular employees of the company. In the meantime the mine workings will be extended, work in the new rock tunnel has already begun. What seemed at first a calamity has been turned to good account by the management and a busy summer at Mocanaqua is expected.

The new rock tunnel for which bids were invited will not be let, the company will do the work with their own men. In fact work has already begun. The first shift commenced operations the first of the week. It will require several weeks to drive the tunnel to the desired point. The miners regularly in the employ of the company will alternate until the completion of the work.

The boiler plant is to be moved and the hoisting engines will be moved and set up at the mouth of the new slope. All this will require a number of men. The employees have good prospects for a full summerís work. The new automatic dump at the head of the breaker will require an entire change and clearing away of all timbering not burned by the fire which destroyed the breaker.

Donated by Daryl Pawlush

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