PRR Chartiers Branch - Canonsburg, PA


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Canonsburg itself was incorporated in 1802. It had been founded by John Canon who built a flour and saw mill in the area. In my mind, Canonsburg serves as the center point of the Branch; it represents the mid-point between the start of the Branch at Carnegie, and the end of the Branch at Washington. Also, thanks to the book Canonsburg Reflections 1802-2002" by James T. Herron, Jr., we have a fantastic track map of the Canonsburg area, so this is great for researching where certain industries were. The Daily Notes was Canonsburg's local newspaper from 1894 to 1980.

Canonsburg Passenger Station

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The station still exists to this day (it is currently used as a fraternal club for The Sons of Italy). The MapQuest satellite photo below shows the station highlighted. It is at the corner of Murdock and Jefferson. The single-line track of the modern-day version of the Chartiers Branch is shown with the dashed line. The Chartiers Creek is visible south of the station.

From the roof-top view, you can see it is a fairly typical small branchline passenger station. The section on the left is longer than the section on the right, and the cross section of the roof line appears to be shorter on the street side than on the track side. So, it is not a perfectly symmetrical design.
Canonsburg, PA
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The track in Canonsburg was completed in May 1871. A wooden depot was built in the present-day location of the brick passenger station. The wooden depot was moved in 1908 to the left (west) of this location, to make room for the new brick passenger station. The brick station was opened in 1909. The area actually had a railroad yard, and the wooden structure became the common-goods freight station for the yard. The passenger station handled passengers, baggage, and first-class mail. This is a photo I have found on the Internet (I need to trace down its source/owner; it looks like it is a scan of a newspaper print) that shows the station in its glory days. Note the double-track mainline, and the fence in between the tracks to discourage people from crossing the track at dangerous locations.
Canonsburg, PA
This photo was taken by Gary Carmichael in September 2010, and he has given me permission to use his photos on my web site. This view is taken from the football stadium across the tracks. The wooden freight station is no more, but a photo taken in 1967 shows it still existing. Passenger service in Canonsburg stopped in July 1952. After that the building was unused, until in the mid-1960s when it was used as the CAAA spa, a health and fitness business. It was during that remodel that the open breeze way was enclosed. This is according to a gentleman who informed me that his uncle and father did the construction work during that remodel. Today the building is owned and used by the Sons of Italy Lodge 758 (address is: 3 Murdock St, Canonsburg, PA 15317). It is my understanding that the Sons of Italy are considering renovating the building to restore it back to its original looks (from a 2013 e-mail I received). I have also been told that despite the years, the interior of the building is still very much like it was originally, and that parts are still recognizable, such as the ticket office space.
Canonsburg, PA

Canonsburg Pottery

The company was formed in 1909 by purchasing the assets of Canonsburg China Company. The George family started and ran the company over the years until its closure in 1978 after suffering a devastating fire in 1975. The company specialized in dinnerware and produced 25,000 dozen pieces per week. It employed 350 people. An interesting side bar is that beginning in 1957 the company started using clay from land where the Vitro Manufacturing Company had been located. Vitro made refined uranium for atom bombs. Yes, the clay was radio-active! I am guessing that the company used box cars to ship their manufactured goods, and received gondolas, hoppers, and box cars for their clay and other manufacturing materials. Clay was brought in from various parts of the U.S., especially southern states (which may justify southern railroad cars).

Pennsylvania Transformer Co.

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In the "Pennsylvania Railroad C.T. 1000 C, May 1, 1945" the Pennsylvania Transformer Co. is not listed because they didn't move to Canonsburg until 1946.

Pittsburgh Railways

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Taken in December, 1945.

Fort Pitt Bridge Works

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1896: started making steel girders for bridges and buildings.
1986: sold to Colonial Steel.
2006: the grounds were renamed to "Fort Pitt Industrial Park".

Forbes Steel and Wire Co

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1882: Canonsburg Rolling Mill became the first major industry in Canonsburg.
1885: John F. Budke became manager of Budke Stamping Company.
1900: Budke Stamping Company sold to American Tin Plate Company.
1904: Budke created Canonsburg Iron & Steel Company (Canonsburg Rolling Mill was renamed to this company).
1905: Canonsburg Iron & Steel Company creates the first gas-extraction well in Canonsburg on the mill's property.
1905: Budke started Canonsburg Light & Fuel Company to provide gas to Canonsburg and Morganza (Budke was a Republican state politician).
1931: Continuous-strip milling made the rolling mill obsolete; the stamping department continued (corrugate roofing, etc.)
1943: National Can Corporation took over the building to produce Navy shells.
1945: Several other companies bought out the building in previous years, but this year it was closed due to the ending of WWII.
1946: Forbes Steel Company took over the plant, specializing in the manufacture of welded wire fabric, reinforcing mesh, and flat steel washers.

Standard Chemical Company

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The web site linked to here includes photos related to the reduction mill in Canonsburg of the Standard Chemical Company in 1915-20. One of their photos was copied here.
Canonsburg, PA

Hazel Mine

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The book "The Successful American" describes the Hazel Mine in great detail with two 1903 photos/images.
The journal "The Engineering and Mining Journal" describes the Hazel Mine in great detail with a mine layout in 1900.
Publisher Arcadia's book "Canonsburg" has a photo on page 49 of a flooded Hazel Mine in 1912.