Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


November 24, 2006

The railroad from Moravia to Centerville


The railroad served four mines in the days before the line was electrified in 1910. I will discuss these mines in approximately the order they were built, first Centerville Block No. 9, built in 1895, Whitebreast Fuel Co. No. 9 (Forbush) in 1891, Rosebrook in 1908 and McConville No. 1 (North Hill) in 1913.

Centerville Block Coal Co. was one of several mining outfits that operated as many as 10 mines in Appanoose County. Others were Carbon Block Coal Co., Diamond Block Coal Co. and Appanoose Coal and Fuel Co. The Centerville Block Co. mines, No. 1 through No. 10, were mostly in fringe areas east and west of Centerville and south of Brazil. They included the Relay Mine (No. 3), the Hawkeye Mine (No. 5) and the Raven mine (No. 10). Centerville Block had the custom of painting the mine number on most of their tipples, and “No. 9” is clearly visible in the picture.

The mine was located along the railroad, in Section 26 of Vermilion Twp., about half way between the Country Club and Highway No. 2. It is fairly inaccessible today, but was somewhat north of the location of the present concrete mixing plant. The tipple was on the west side of the track. There was a pond on the east side, used for making steam to power the hoist. The pond was generally used for swimming as well.

In 1906 Charley Ellis was killed when caught under a fall of black batt in this mine. His back was broken and his chest was crushed and ribs broken but he lived for three months. He was the son of George Ellis who worked in the Relay Mine.

The mine operated until 1914 and removed the coal from much of Section 26. The Superintendent was Alex Dargavel. It was 72 feet deep and undermined 140 acres using both longwall and room and pillar operation.

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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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