Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


August 10, 2006

The Gladstone Coal mine

The settlement of Marsdenville developed in Section 35 on the south side of Hwy. No. 2 on land owned by John C. Felkner. There were about 15 miners‚ homes just south of the highway and west of the railroad. The town was established by Pete Marsden, the operator of the Big Joe Mine there, and later the operator of Gladstone No. 2 in Jerome. A Post office was established briefly May 29, 1893 with John J. Stone postmaster

The Gladstone Coal Co. started out to be Big Joe Block Mine No. 1. Coal was mined commercially at least by 1897. It was a shaft mine of 80 feet. The tipple was on the west side of the tracks, on the south edge of the new village of Marsdenville, the home of all the workers for the mine.

During its operation, there was a tragic accident in the Big Joe. In 1905 Peter Gallows, an Austrian, was on the second landing, ready to step on the cage to go down. Someone called his attention to something else for a few minutes. While they were talking, the operator raised the cage to the first level. Visibility was very poor with the shaft a dense fog of steam. Gallows stepped off calmly to where he thought the cage was and fell to instant death a hundred feet below.

The Big Joe Mine became Harkes Mine No. 1 in 1910 and Gladstone Coal Co. Mine No. 1 in 1913 after which it was closed. There was a total area of 203 acres mined out between 1897 and 1913.

In 1939 a new 100-foot shaft was drilled on the north side of the highway just west of the tracks, and it was called the New Gladstone Coal Co. Mine. It had a separate slope entrance for the ponies to pull the coal cars out. Shetland ponies, shorter than other breeds, were used to pull the coal cars up the steep slope to the surface. It must have been a long, hard pull for the small ponies. The ponies were housed in a barn on the north side of the road, on the Paul Felkner farm for many years. This mine was in operation for a long time until 1971 and a total of 50 acres were mined. The town of about 25 families disappeared, and the homes were moved out.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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