January 16, 2023 - Once a flourishing mining operation located high atop the southeastern side of Broad Top Mountain, Pennsylvania's Wishart Coal Mine is believed to one of the last portals that operated in the Fulton County section of the Broad Top Coalfield.
Situated not far from the well-known Garlick Coal Mine, the Wishart opening was among those overlooking Wells Tannery, situated near the bottom of Broad Top Mountain. The Wishart Mine, which was located near the end of the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain (H&BT) Railroad’s Sandy Run Branch, employed many miners during its hey-day including those from Wells Tannery and Wells Valley, all situated in Wells Township, Fulton County.
Wells Tannery historian Jerry Wright, third from left, with Wells Township Supervisors, from the left, Norman Swope, Kevin Bricker and Chris Ford.
Photo: Ron Morgan
The Wells Township Supervisors and local historian Jerry Wright are very much aware of the deep mine’s contributions to America’s industrial heritage and would like to see the unknown stream which originates in the Wishart Mine area named “Wishart Mine Run.”
“The stream has a connection with the Broad Top and Wells Township area’s mining industry and deserves to be named after the Wishart Mine which employed many miners from the Wells Tannery area,” explained the town’s community activist and local historian.
A retired diesel engine designer of the Hagerstown, Maryland-based Mack Trucks Inc., Wishart’s grandfather, the late James Black of Wood worked inn the Rockhill Coal Co. deep mines at Robertsdale and Wood for several years while his other grandfather, the late Albert Wright, was a farmer and a coal mine operator, having managed a deep mine midway between the Garlick and Wishart mines on the southeastern-most end of the H&BT’s Sandy Run.
“I’ve been working closely with the Wells Township Supervisors attempting to have the unnamed stream named ‘Wishart Mine Run,’” added Wright.
The township supervisors, Norman Swope, Kevin Bricker and Chris Ford, all from the Wells Tannery area, have an abiding respect for their township’s rich history and its ties with the century-old Broad Top coal mining dynasty.
The supervisors unanimously agree with Wright that the unknown stream, which empties into Laurel Fork, not far from Wells Tannery, deserves official recognition.
Last year, Wright and the township supervisors contacted the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (U.S. Geological Survey), urging federal geographical and topographical mapping officials to name the stream of water “Wishart Mine Run” on future maps.
That mission continues as federal officials assemble information about the coal mine and stream, necessary to rename the stream. Endorsements have been secured from several sources including this historian, researcher Carolyn Carroll, township supervisors, Broad Top Area Coal Miners Historical Society and others in support of the proposal.
Situated at the top of Broad Top Mountain overlooking Wells Valley to the south and east and nearby Shermans Valley to the south, the Wishart deep mine was one of several located along the tail end of the H&BT’s Sandy Run branch including the well-known Garlick Mine, Lawrence Miller Mine and the Albert Wright Mine.
In addition to the local mines and the H&BT standard gauge branch, the area was also served by a narrow-gauge logging railroad known as the Reichley Brothers Railroad. The railroad’s main function was the shipment of timber/mine props for the Broad Top coal mines.
The Garlick Mine operated near the top of the mountain while the Lawrence Miller Mine was situated south of Garlick Mine. A small reservoir was built to serve the local mines a short distance east which survives today.
The Wishart Coal Mine was situated south of the Garlock Mine while the Albert Wright Mine was located southwest of the Lawrence Miller Mine at an elevation of 2,231 feet above sea level. A “coal road” (designated as a “Jeep Trail” on Topographical maps) connected the area with Route 915, a modern-day highway that connects Wells Tannery (and U.S. Route 30) with Hopewell Borough, Bedford County.
Wright, a long-time resident of Wells Tannery, who is also involved in several Wells Tannery community activities including the Wells Tannery Community Park, resides a few miles south of the “coal road.”
The historic Broad Top Coal Field and Mountain, situated directly west of Wells Valley, appears on numerous maps dating back the mid-1800s including the A. Pomeroy & Co. map of 1873. Still other maps, including the 1912 Topographic and Geological Survey map of the Broad Top Coal Field shows the early Wishart Mine. The maps and other information about the coal field can be found in the Coal Miners Museum at Robertsdale.