What is now Nanty Glo borough originated in the 1890s and was called “Glenglade.” By 1896, the community was a lumber camp of 13 houses built on both sides of the southern branch of Blacklick Creek, which forms the border of Blacklick Township on the north side and Jackson Township on the south side.
A post office opened for Glenglade on November 21, 1894, with Merton A. Davis as the first postmaster. Three Davis brothers took turns as postmaster: Merton A., from 1894 until 1900; Montell, 1900 until 1911, and Everett C., 1911–1916. According to oral history, the town name was changed to “Nant-y-Glo” during the term of Montell Davis, through the intervention of his wife. Glenglade became Nant-y-Glo on February 20, 1901. Whether the Davises had the small town of the same name in Wales in mind or just thought the melodic-sounding Welsh phrase fit the town is not known. The name of “Blacklick” for the creek that bisects the town and the adjacent township probably means much the same as “brook of coal”, a lick being a common synonym for brook and the “black” referring to outcroppings of coal seams on the stream banks and bed.
By 1899 the huge coal deposits in the settlement had attracted additional settlers, and the Pennsylvania Railroad installed a spur line through the community that year. Commercial mining was initiated in 1896 by Dr. James W. Dunwiddie of Pine Flats, Indiana County, who opened up what was then called Nanty Glo No. 1.
Heisley Mine (1915) was by far the largest, most profitable, and longest-lived Nanty Glo mine. It was originally owned and operated by Coleman-Weaver Company as Heisley Mine No. 3 until 1922 when Coleman-Weaver dissolved and partner John Heisley Weaver, a Philadelphia industrialist, acquired sole ownership. Colman-Weaver Company also originally owned the mines in Revloc and Colver and launched the Cambria and Indiana Railroad (C&I), which served most Cambria County mines through most of the 20th century.
Weaver also owned the mines in Heilwood, Indiana County, which was renamed from Possum Glory to Heilwood after Weaver’s nickname, “Heil”, from Heisley. Weaver died in 1934, and his company sold Heisley to Bethlehem Mines in 1948. Bethlehem renamed the mine Monroe Mine No. 131 and later renamed it Bethlehem Mine 31 and moved its main entrance from Nanty Glo to Jackson Township (Leidy Portal). The mine closed in the 1980s.
Other mines in what is now Nanty Glo and their starting dates included Lincoln (1900); Springfield, owned by the Peale, Peacock and Kerr Company (1907); Emma Coal Company (1909); and Webster, later owned by the Pennsylvania Coal & Coke Company, Ivory Hill, and the Warren Colliery. “House coal” mines on a much smaller scale (selling coal by the truckload directly to homeowners for house heating) included Lorraine, Bech, Johnson, Cornely, Dorsch, Yobbagy, and Ebandjieff.
Time and Life magazines
Both Time and Life magazines did stories on Nanty Glo as their prime exhibit for their coverage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s taking control of the nation’s coal mines after mine workers defied a congressional law by going on strike at the height of World War Two. The May 10, 1943, edition of Life features a photo essay by Alfred Eisenstaedt of miners’ everyday lives in Nanty Glo.
The Library of Congress has an extensive collection of photographs taken in a public works program of the mines and miners in Nanty Glo and nearby mining towns, taken during the Great Depression. (source: Wikipedia)