Wes Tharp's Congo History
Early Congo Housing  

                The following words & information were researched and complied by Wesley "Foo" Tharp, Jr.

The town of Congo came into being in 1891, a mining town in all rights. In 1890 and early 1891, the Congo Mining Company of Columbus opened a large mining operation. Mine No. 1 or 301 as it was numbered. The town located on a hill on the East side of the valley where the mine located. Some of the older residents had told me thru the years the first plans was to locate the town on the West hillside of the valley, they even had another name other than Congo picked for the town.
The inhabitants of Congo included mostly Hungarian imigrants, also represented were Welsh, English, Irish, Scottish and Germans, also many older stock Americans and a small Negro group of people.


Photos of Mine 301 and Power house at Congo, built in late 1890 and early 1891. Next facts I will show will be from the State of Ohio Mine Inspection reports for the 1890's even into the opening of mine No.2 or 302 in 1896 and 97. 301 and 302 became two of the largest and most modern equipped mines in the State.

Reports of Robert H. Miller, Inspector of 3rd District from Nov. 15, 1893 to Nov. 15, 1894

                                       CONGO,  WEST SIDE
Is situated between Drake's Station and Corning, on the C.S.&H.R. and is operated by the Congo Coal Mining Company, of Columbus. J.H. Ferguson is superintendent, and J.W. Taylor mine boss.  It is a drift opening made into the No. 6 seam of coal, which is here between thirteen and fourteen feet in thickness, has fan ventilation and is worked on the double entry system.  Ninety-six miners and twenty-eight day hands are employed.  The cages are self-dumping and the mine is equipped with electricity.  The coal is cut entirely by machines.  It was visited twice during the year.  On my first visit, February 16, the mine was in good order.  On July 30,  I ordered breakthroughs made in rooms Nos. 17, 19 and 21.  The current on the entries was very good and would be a good deal better in rooms were it not for the practice of filling the breakthroughs with bone coal to very near the roof.  I condemned the brattice and requested them kept as clear as possible in the future.
 
                                                  CONGO,  EAST SIDE
This is the east side of the Congo mine and is owned and officered by the same company as the west side, but ventilated by a separate current.  It has fan ventilation, is worked on the double entry system and like the west side, the coal is cut by electric machines.  Seventy miners and eighteen day hands are employed. It was inspected July 30.  The ventilation in the entries was excellent, but the breakthroughs between rooms were very much obstructed by coal.  I requested them kept as clear as possible in the future.
 
                                                CONGO,  WEST/EAST SIDE
Is situated at Congo Station on the C. S. & H. R. R. and is operated by the Congo Coal Mining Co., of Columbus.  J. H. Ferguson is superintendent and J. W. Taylor mine boss.  It is a shaft opening made into the No. 6 seam of coal, which is here between thirteen and fourteen feet in thickness and is worked on the double entry system and ventilated by a fan.  The cages are self dumping and the mine is equipped with a fine electric plant.  The coal is all cut by electric machines.  One hundred and six miners, thirty machine men and thirty-seven day men are employed.  When visited January 30, room No. 24 on the blind entry required two breakthroughs cut, which were ordered.  I also found a number of stoppings leaking between the first and second west entries, which ordered reclayed.  On June 24, I found several breakthroughs open between entries, owing to the company being out of lumber.  I was informed that lumber was ordered and the brattices would be put up as soon as it came.  With this exception the mine was in good order.  Congo east side is the east side of the mine, and is owned and officered the same as the west side.  It is worked on the double entry system and has fan ventilation, and like the west side the coal is cut by electric machines.  One hundred and three miners and twenty-four day hands are employed.  On my first visit, January 30, I found the return air way enlarged from sixteen to fifty square feet and well timbered and this side in good order.  On June 24, I found several breakthroughs open between entries for want of lumber and requested them closed.  I also found a door broken down, which I ordered repaired.  All of this they promised to do as soon as the lumber could be secured.  On September 12, I was called to investigate the cause of the death of David Wilson, a boy of sixteen years of age, who suffered a fatal injury in this mine on Tuesday, September 10, 1895, between the hours of four and five o'clock, and died between eight and nine o'clock the same night.  The circumstances that caused his death are as follows:  He was at work with his father in room No. 4, on the first east south entry.  They had fired a flash shot some time previous that did not bring the coal down.  They had just worked the bottom and bone coal out, when about four tons of the top coal or face of the room fell over, catching the unfortunate and injuring him about the back and bowels, from the effects of which he died.

Link Belt Model Entered On Market In Late 1894.
2nd One Built (similar to this one), Put to Work
At Congo Mine 301 in 1895


"LINK BELT" "ELECTRIC" "LOW" CHAIN MACHINE

Robert H. Miller Inspector 3rd Dist.                 Nov. 15, 1895 to Nov. 15, 1896

                                                        CONGO
Is situated at Congo Station on the C. S. & H. R. R., and is the property of the Congo Coal Mining Co. of Columbus.  Mr. J. H. Ferguson is superintendent, and J. W. Taylor mine boss.  It is a shaft opening forty-three feet in depth. It is worked on the double entry system and ventilated by a fan.  The seam of coal which is here penetrated is the No. 6, and the thickness is from thirteen to fourteen feet.  The cages are self-dumping, and the mine is equipped with a fine electric plant.  The coal is all cut by electric machines; 108 miners, eighteen machine men and thirty-two day hands are employed.  On my first visit, December 9th, I ordered a check put up at room eighteen on the first west entry; I also ordered breakthroughs on both sides of room No. 36 on second west entry, and checks put up on both the third and fourth west entries; the breakthroughs are clearer of obstructions than I generally find them.  On July 14th, I found all previous orders complied with; I ordered a check put up between forty-five and forty-six rooms on the first west entry where there is a panel of rooms with two solid sides. When that is done, this side will be in good order. Congo east side is the part of the mine on the east side of the shaft and is owned and officered the same as the west side. It is worked on the double entry system and has fan ventilation, and like the west side the coal is cut by electric machines. One hundred and eight miners, eighteen machine men and thirty-two day hands are employed. On December 9th, I found the ventilation very fair in the rooms on this side, but it could be much better were the breakthroughs kept clear. I was informed that the day men unloaded bone coal in the breakthroughs. I ordered that practice dis-continued or I would be compelled to stop the rooms until the breakthroughs were cleaned out. On July 14th, I ordered a stopping put up in the first room on the second west entry to conduct the air along the face of the rooms. When that is done, this side of the mine will be in good order.

 

                                                       CONGO
Is situated at Congo Station on the C. S. & H. railway and is the property of Turney and Jones of Columbus. Mr. J. H. Ferguson was superintendent but was succeeded by his brother Vinton Ferguson, with J. W. Taylor as mine boss. This is a shaft opening forty-three feet in depth. It is worked on the double entry system and is ventilated by a fan. The seam of coal which is here penetrated is the No. 6 which is from thirteen to fourteen feet in thickness. The cages are self-dumping and the mine is equipped with a fine electric plant. The coal is cut by electric machines. One hundred and fifty-two miners, forty-six inside and thirty outside day hands were employed. On my first visit December 18th I was called to investigate the cause of the death of Benjamin F. Post who met with a fatal accident at this mine on Wednesday, December 17th by falling down the shaft. The deceased was boss cager at the bottom of the shaft. The horn or guard which holds the car on cage was broken and was sent to the blacksmith's shop to be repaired. During the space of three hours the cage was what they call a free cage, that is running without a signal. When the horn was sent down the shaft the requested Mr. Post to notify those on top when he was going to put it on the cage. He answered "all right," but instead he pulled the car off the cage that was on it for a balance, when he and Charles Sines jumped on to the cage to replace the horn and the cage went up without a signal as usual. Mr. Friedueaner the carpenter who was at the bottom of the shaft at the time said Mr. Post attempted to jump off of the cage, when it is thought he was caught at the door head and broke his shoulder. By the time the cage reached the surface he was overcome by weakness and fell off. He grabbed for the safety-gate and fell down the shaft where he was found later, lying in the sump. The unfortunate man's shoulder was broken, his leg and thigh were mashed, besides other injuries. He died two hours after the accident occurred. On May 21st I was called to this mine again to investigate the cause of the death of Joseph Sutock, an Austrian miner and found that he was killed in this mine on Thursday, May 20th by a fall of top coal while drawing pillars and top coal. It was visited again on November 5th when I ordered several break-throughs made and one or two cleaned out. When that is done the mine will be in good order.

I've shown reports on Congo 1 up to this year 1896. Now mine No.2 or 302 later opens at this time, and the reports of both mines will be as follows. These mines were known as Congo No. 1 and No. 2 up till Sunday Creek Coal Company starts operating them in early 1900's to 1902, then Sunday Creek uses their numbers for the mines, which will be 301 and 302. Sunday Creek owned the coal rights to these mines or partially from the start, even when Congo Mining Co. and Turney and Jones operated them. Congo was a company town from the beginning up to 1898 and had a wood fence around it. One had to receive permission from the Company office or live there to enter, this was enforced very strongly.

Shawnee, O.. July 15, 1898            R. H. Miller,    Inspector Third District.
PERRY   COUNTY

                                                       CONGO NO. 1

Is situated at Congo, on the Columbus, Shawnee and Hocking railway, and is the property of Turney, Jones & Co., of Columbus. Vinton Ferguson is superintendent and J. W. Taylor is mine boss. It is a shaft opening, 43 feet in depth, worked on the double entry system, and ventilated by a fan. It penetrates the No. 6 seam of coal, which is from13 to 14 feet in thickness at this point. The cages are self-dumping, and the mine is equipped with a fine electric plant. The coal is cut by electric machines. When visited on February 14 there were 136 miners, 14 machine men, 47 inside and 28 outside day hands employed. I found a number of break-throughs nearly filled with bone coal and ordered that they be cleaned. I also ordered a number of new break-throughs made. On my second visit, May 26, S. W. Pascoe was superintendent and 150 miners were employed. I found a new Crawford & McCrimmin fan erected for the ventilation of the No's 1 and 2 mines. The fan, which was manufactured at Brazil, Ind., is 20 feet in diameter, seven feet and four inches across the vanes, which are four feet in depth. On the date of my visit at the two outlets from the same fan I measured 156,600 cubic feet of air in one minute. They have also put in an electric motor to convey the coal from the interior of the mine to the bottom of the shaft. I found this mine in very good order.

                                                    CONGO NO. 2

Is situated in close proximity to the No. 1 opening, and is owned, operated and officered by the same company. It is a shaft opening into the No. 6 seam of coal, is worked on the double entry system, and is ventilated by a fan. One hundred and fifty-three miners, 20 machine men, 46 inside and 26 outside day hands were employed. On February 18 they erected a small fan to ventilate the mine. I ordered a number of break-throughs made, also one to be cleaned out, which was nearly filled with bone coal. On May 27 I found an electric motor placed in the mine to convey the coal from the interior of the mine to the bottom of the shaft. This mine is now ventilated by a large fan located at the No. 1 shaft. I found it in very good order. 

In March of 1894 the Superintendent of the Columbus, Shawnee & Hocking Rail Road led a party of journalists and news people in his private car to the Congo Mine to tour the most modern of mines in the mining fields. The men on the tour stood erect during the entire tour in the eight foot high mine tunnels and watched the latest of machinery that Jeffery Link-Belt and other equipment companies had to offer. The electric machines eventually replaced large numbers of miners. At the time this was one of the giants of the coal mining industry.

 
CONGO NO. 2
Robert H. Miller Insp.         Nov. 15, 1896 to Nov. 15, 1897

 

Is located at Congo and is owned and managed by the same parties as Congo No. 1. It is a new shaft opening, fifty feet in depth, worked on the double entry system and has fan ventilation. It is opened into the No. 6 seam of coal. The cages are self-dumping and the coal is cut by electric machines. One hundred and fifty-six miners, forty-six inside and twenty-nine outside day hands were employed. There is a shaft adjacent for a second opening with a stairway in it. The workings break through into the No. 1 mine. When visited on November 4th I ordered a number of break-throughs made. When that is done the mine will be in good order. The management anticipate putting a larger fan in the near future.

 

CONGO COAL MINE,   CAPACITY   1,500 TONS,  9   HOURS

 

Not only did Congo Mine No. 1 have the latest equipment available at the time it came to be, but the entry way to the main mine was said to have had one of the fanciest entry's ever seen at a mine, the stone was cut and laid from native stone in the area. Some of the old timers that I have talked to a few years back, told of a man who started with the mine at the beginning and he could sculpture almost anything from rock or coal, and he was the man responsible for cutting the stone for the entries, the company would see he had the help needed to do the job. I was told inside the original entry he had cut the coal back and made a large room, and made tables and seats from stone and placed them in the room, where the men could eat their dinner and take breaks. Around 1893 a large chunk of coal was cut and mined and hauled by rail to Chicago and displayed at the World's Fair in 1893. The chunk of coal weighed thirteen tons, seventeen hundred pounds, quite a chunk of coal. One observer who toured the Congo Mine in 1894 estimated the mine contained 4,000,000 tons of coal, which will take thirty nine years to exhaust.


2005/2015 Citizens of Congo Ohio - All Rights Reserved
Web Designs by Michigan Network Graphic Design