Speaker: Joan Hawk, P.G.
You’ve never heard of them, have you? Well, they made history in the Connellsville Coal Basin of Fayette County, Pennsylvania in the early1900s. The American Manganese Manufacturing Company (AMMC) had bought out the holdings of the Dunbar Furnace Company in 1914 and included in the purchase were coal mines, beehive and by-product coke ovens, a silica plant, iron and manganese ores from the Great Lakes region, blast furnaces, and a laboratory. They were poised to manufacture ferro-manganese, a necessary ingredient in the making of high-quality steel. At the time, ferro-manganese was being exported from Great Britain and Germany as none was being made domestically. AMMC was poised to “do it all” – mine coal, make coke, and manufacture ferro-manganese. In fact, they were the first producer of ferro-manganese in the United States. AMMC was a forward-thinking company for their time. Dunbar Furnace Company had introduced by-product coke ovens into the Dunbar area in 1895 and were the second company to install them in the United States. AMMC continued that trend. But alas, in 1922, less than 10 years after their incorporation, they failed. In 1924 the property was sold, and the works were dismantled and sold for scrap. Not a trace can found of these once great works.
What happened? AMMC had been burdened with a strike and supply problem ins 1922, but, overall, their efforts were just too little, too late. The Connellsville area had much of its coal mining and coke making history behind it when AMMC bought Dunbar Furnace Company. The technology that they brought into the Connellsville basin was its ultimate undoing. By-products ovens were being built near the steel mills and chemical plants, outside the Connellsville area--industries that directly used the by-products. All that remains of AMMC’s legacy is a discharge from a small mine that apparently intercepted the workings of one of AMMC mines. You can see the discharge as you hike along the Great Allegheny Passage trail near Connellsville, PA.