Village of Shoaf
in 1904 by the H.C. Frick Company, the Village of Shoaf is a small
coal mining town (known as a "patch") which supported
the local coal mine and the coke ovens the mine supplied. Shoaf
itself was quite typical of a patch in the heyday of the Coal
and Coke Era in the Connellsville Coke Region (a region roughly
defined as 3 miles wide at the foot of and paralleling the Laurel
Mountain range from Smithfield to Latrobe where great quantities
of high quality coal were once found).
What makes Shoaf specal today is that is perhaps the best remaining
example of a patch from the era when "coal was king and coke
was queen". Many of the company houses are still intact and
the character of the community is somewhat preserved. And as important,
the behive coke ovens are still in remarkable shape. The last commercial
production of coke anywhere using the beehive process was in these
ovens in 1972, thus closing the final chapter of the coal and coke
era in the region. In earlier days, the region literarally had tens
of thousands of coke ovens, and the sky at night would be orange
with fires of the ovens.
This is an attraction only to those interested in the coal and
coke era. Some effort will be required to view many of the relics.
Shoaf gives us the one of the best possible glimpses of the region's
industrial past. It, too, may soon fade into the mist of history.