“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Uptown in Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Black Diamonds

Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Black Diamonds Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, May 30, 2021
1. Black Diamonds Marker
Inscription.  Outcroppings on the slopes above Pittsburgh's factories exposed a rich coalfield that was considered a natural wonder of the modern world. The vast Pittsburgh Coal Seam extended across several states, and was so profitable it was called "Black Diamonds." The region's bituminous coal was more highly valued the total output of the California gold mines. Availability of coal became the key factor in Pittsburgh's growth as an iron and steel production center.

The technology to burn coal into coke revolutionized Pittsburgh's iron industry during the mid-1800s, as coke replaced charcoal as the best fuel to supply the region's many iron works. As coal mining expanded after the Civil War, thousands of men and boys worked the Pittsburgh mines. Many worked from dawn to dusk in the dark mines and never saw the light of day. Jones & Laughlin Company and other large steel producers had their own "captive" mines, and employed hundreds of coal miners along with ironworkers. Portals to coal mines opened out of the hillsides lining Pittsburgh's rivers, and coke ovens smoked and flamed in the backyards of the miners' houses. Inclines were constructed to

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transport the workers up and down the hills, and their loads of coal down to the river for transportation. More than a dozen inclines operated along the rivers to serve, in part, the mining industry.

By the turn of the 20th century, nearly all the coal near Pittsburgh was "worked out" and the center of the region's mining shifted to the Connellsville area. But the burning of bituminous coal by the mills, railroads, steamboats and by the worker's in their own homes, created the image of the "Smoky City" that persists today.

Children were often recruited for mining because they could easily work in narrow underground tunnels. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Coal mines on the South Side slopes and the smoking chimneys from the factories below made Pittsburgh the "Smoky City" by 1874. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Erected by Friends of the Riverfront, DCNR, Steel Industry Heritage Corporation, City of Pittsburgh, PHMC.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce.
Location. 40° 26.077′ N, 79° 59.084′ W. Marker is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County. It is in Uptown. Marker is on Three Rivers Heritage Trail, 0.8 miles east of Grant Street, on the left

Three Rivers Heritage Trail/Great Allegheny Passage image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, May 30, 2021
2. Three Rivers Heritage Trail/Great Allegheny Passage
when traveling east. Not accessible by motorized vehicle. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pittsburgh PA 15219, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ormsby River Farms (here, next to this marker); Coal Transportation (here, next to this marker); Mercy Hospital (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Oliver Iron and Steel (approx. 0.2 miles away); Immigrant Steel Workers (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pennsylvania Canal in Pittsburgh (approx. ¼ mile away); Pittsburgh Glass (approx. ¼ mile away); Panhandle Railroad (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pittsburgh.
Also see . . .  Friends of the Riverfront. (Submitted on June 1, 2021.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 2, 2023. It was originally submitted on June 1, 2021, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 248 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 1, 2021, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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Feb. 24, 2024