Coal Mine at Elwyn Street - 1931
Brookline is 95% Undermined

1931 Coal Mine along
Elwyn Street (McNeilly Road).

This is of one of hundreds of small coal mines that dotted the Pittsburgh region and the South Hills area. In the early 1800s, Pittsburgh coal entreprenuers discovered the seemingly endless Pittsburgh Coal Seam. Mining enterprises sprung up everywhere to feed the voracious appetite of Pittsburgh's burgeoning industrial base.

A family coal mine
as sketched in the Pittsburgh
area by artist H. Fenn

Large companies and small family ventures all vied for the black fuel buried in Pittsburgh's hills. In the early 1900s, large mining ventures were in operation everywhere. In Overbrook and Castle Shannon, the South Hills Coal Company, Castle Shannon Coal Company and Pittsburgh Coal Company had several mines located along along Banksville Road, Library Road and McNeilly Road (a stretch of which near is named Elwyn Street).

A mule pulling a cart full of coal from a mine
in the South Hills area in 1910.   
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Brookline had mining operations scattered throughout the
valleys. There were several mines along Edgebrook, McNeilly (Elwynn) and Saw Mill Run.
This could be a a mine along Elwynn Street, shown in 1910.

Castle Shannon Coal Company    Castle Shannon Coal Company
The Castle Shannon Coal Company owned several mines along Library Road. This one between
Kilarney and Willow Avenues operated from 1902 to 1938. The company trucks made
local deliveries for residential heating.

Coal Mining - 1910.   
A 1910 photo of miners working in one of Pittsburgh's many coal mines.

Numerous mines were also located along Edgebrook Avenue and along the hillsides of West Liberty Avenue in Brookline. Many of these local mines fed the growing residential needs, while the major enterprises fed Pittsburgh's industrial base.

1937 abandoned coal mine
shaft along Edgebrook Avenue.

By the mid-1900s, most mining ended in the South Hills area as the Coal Seam was pretty well tapped to capacity, but in the rural areas there are still mines in operation.

Typical Pittsburgh coal miners
from the early 20th century

If you live in Brookline there is a 95% chance that your home has been undermined. Many of the smaller mines are not even registered or mapped. Along Route 88 near the creek there were still long abandoned mine openings that had collapsed or were overgrown with brush. They were still being found as late as the 1980s. We caution anyone that stumbles upon one of these hazards to stay out! These mines are dangerous, and at one time, long ago, they were everywhere.

Some History on Brookline's Oak Mine

The inside of a mine shaft.

As recently as October 2007, a mine shaft was uncovered during the reconfiguration of Library Road in Overbrook near the intersection with McNeilly Road.

<Photos of the Uncovering/Sealing of the Elwyn Mine Shaft in 2007>

Much of the coal mined in the
Brookline area was used to heat
the homes in the neighborhood.

Much of the coal mined in the Brookline area was used for residential home heating. Coal furnaces were in use until the mid-1940s. Home coal deliveries like this were commonplace on the streets and alleyways of Brookline, and much of it came from right underneath the community.

<Historical Facts> <> <Brookline History>