Iron Built Fayette County

This article was researched and written by PA Room volunteer Paul Davis. Thanks to Paul for contributing!

Fayette County has a prominent industrial history and has long been synonymous with the coal boom of the 19th and early 20th century. Growing up, I remember my mother telling me that Uniontown had contained a large number of millionaires; in 1907, at least 13 called the city home and their wealth grew out of the mining industry.[i]  Today, coal is still at the root of what the locals remember as “the good old days.” However, before mining played its hand in our area’s history, another industry thrived in Fayette County: iron-making.

The Marquis de Lafayette’s Trip to Fayette County

This article was researched and written by PA Room volunteer Paul Davis. Thanks to Paul for contributing!

The Marquis de Lafayette became one of the most influential figures in the history of the Western World. He was known as “The Hero of Two Worlds” because of his actions in the American Revolution and his involvement in the French government, but also as “the most hated man in Europe” because of his ideals and actions during the French Revolution.[i]

The “Five Horsemen” in the Maroon Tornado: Uniontown High School’s 1925 Men’s Basketball Team

This article was researched and written by PA Room volunteer Paul Davis. Thanks to Paul for contributing!

Fayette County has always had a rich sports history. If one were to visit the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame located here in the Uniontown Library they would learn about the varied accomplishments by many talented men and women. Basketball, in particular, has been a powerhouse sport in the area.

“No One Hurt and Very Few Drunk”: Uniontown’s 1896 Centennial

There was some discussion last week on the Fayette County Historical Society’s excellent Facebook page about Uniontown’s centennial celebration. I knew we had relevant artifacts here in the PA Room, so I thought I’d look into the history of the event.

First, to clear something up: While lots were drawn for Beeson’s Town in 1776, our borough was not formally established until 1796. Hence, the 1896 Centennial.

We weren’t 20 years late for our own party. Phew.

The Wreck of the Duquesne Limited

If you live in Fayette County, you likely heard about the railroad cars that derailed behind the courthouse last week. Happily, no one was injured and no hazardous materials were spilled. There were no disruptions at the library, though we did listen to the steady thrumming of an engine for a few days while part of the train idled nearby.

I often come across railroad and trolley accidents while working with the PA Room’s obituary index. Still, the deaths I see were usually caused by passenger error — a person attempted to hop onto a moving train and lost their grip, for instance, or they got hit while walking the tracks.

There is one local railroad catastrophe that has clung to my memory, however: the wreck of the Duquesne Limited.

The Mining Strike of July 1933

Like many of our patrons, we received mail from some distant locales this holiday season. One package arrived from the Museum of South Texas History, whose curator sent us two pictures to add to our collection.

The images date back to 1933 and depict National Guard troops stationed in Brownsville during the coal strikes. Both were stamped for distribution through the Central Press Association and arrived with suggested captions taped to the back.

The Rand Powder Mill Disaster, 1905

Next month marks the 109th anniversary of the Rand Powder Mill Explosion, a series of blasts at a Fayette County black powder factory that killed 18 people, shattered windows in Uniontown, and shook buildings as far away as Greensburg. The Pennsylvania Room maintains photos of the September 9, 1905 disaster that were taken by E.W. Hague, a Uniontown druggist who rushed to offer his aid and document the disaster in Fairchance.

Judging (Year)Books by Their Covers

Ah, the most mundane of library tasks: “reading the shelves,” or going book by book and putting everything in order. A few weeks ago, after reading the general history and genealogy shelves in the room — yes, all of them — I decided that it was time to sort through our yearbooks.

The collection was reorganized last fall. At the time I was mostly concerned with updating the inventory and moving the more delicate volumes to the safety of the Rare Book Room. Now I could pay more attention to the design of the books, and when I did, I began to notice some patterns.