"Vintondale rainbow" by Gladys Oros.


Click here for a Vintondale history slide show

Judy Rose's 'slides' from Vintondale
Homecoming, August 30-31, 2008

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'Live' Scenes from Vintondale
Homecoming, August 30-31, 2008

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Vintondale Homecoming 2008 - Click Here

Click here for 2008 Homecoming Hayride Video


Below: scenes from Vintondale's Centennial
Homecoming, September 1-2, 2007

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Click here for a homecoming slide show.


Vintondale's population was 528 in the 2000 census; housing units: 248; land area: 0.46 square miles (296 acres); water area, 0.03 square miles (21 acres). US Postal Service zip code: 15961

The county's industrial cradle

Though the industrial revolution came to Cambria County, Pennsylvania, with the opening of the county's first iron funace here around 1845, Vintondale, as a real and lasting town, like nearby Twin Rocks and Nanty Glo, began taking shape in the 1890's. Like them, it was known by several names (Barker City, Vinton, Vintonvale) before the one that eventually “stuck.” Taking the middle name of Ebensburg industrial developer Augustine Vinton Barker, the United States Post Office played a role in the naming, by objecting that “Vinton” or “Vintonvale” were too easily confused with nearby Vinco. However, it's not certain just when “Vintondale” came into general use.

Eliza Furnace, click for big viewThe small borough incorporated in 1907 (11 years before it's larger and dominant neighbor, Nanty Glo) nestled deep in the Blacklick Valley is immediately adjacent to the Indiana County line at the confluence of the north and south branches of the Blacklick Creek. Its first permanent (still-standing) houses were built for workers at the Vinton Lumber Company which thrived in what is now Vintondale and, shortly after, in Rexis, just northwest across the line in Indiana County, several years before the first successful coal mines. The lumber operation harvested and milled the hardwoods in the local forests, bringing in the first railway spurs and mud wagon roads, via the northern branch of the Blacklick Creek (Redmill, White Mill, Adams Crossing, and points beyond to Ebensburg for the railroad; Belsano to Ebensburg via what is now known as State Game Lands Road or Stoy's Lane and Redmill Road, South Street, and U.S. Route 422 for the first wagon road. For more on the latter route, see A Virtual Hike).

Once promoted by Ebensburg and Indiana interests as the route of the mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Conemaugh Valley and Johnstown beat the Blacklick Valley and Vintondale in that competition, relegating Vintondale to, temporarily, the status of a coal and coke boom town and, more permanently, of small town rather than major industrial center. After the Vinton Lumber Company was done exploiting the Blacklick Valley, it relocated to Kentucky. From just after the beginning of the 20th Century on, Vintondale, guided till his death (1920) by capitalist-entrepreneur Warren Delano, flourished, for coalmining (with up to six mines) at first, and coke production beginning later. Vintondale's last commercial mine closed in 1968, and the coke ovens ceased operation in 1945. Though only 12 miles from a major production center of Bethlehem Steel in that era—Johnstown—ironically Vintondale's production was generally marketed more than 150 miles away to Buffalo, New York, plants, because of historic ties to Buffalo's Lackawanna Steel and its Lackawanna Coal and Coke.

Now, Vintondale is most likely to be noticed to the outside world as the midpoint on the Ghost Town Rails to Trails park and site of the best-preserved early-19th Century Iron Funace in Pennsylvania, Ritter's Eliza Furnace. Two once flourishing coalmining towns now extinct, Bracken and Wehrum, are on the trail east and south of Vintondale, respectively. (“Ghost town,” which usually describes a collection of abandoned buildings, is something of a misnomer as there's hardly even a foundation, much less buildings, visible at the site of Bracken, and only one house still stands where Wehrum was.)

Vintondale has four churches: First Baptist and a Hungarian Reformed Church on Main Street, Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church on Third Street at Lovell, and Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church on Fourth Street. In its first half century of history, Vintondale had a succession of other churches established but eventually closed, including a Church of God (Anderson, IN), c. 1900; a Presbyterian Church, 1912, and a Christian and Mission Alliance Church founded in 1923 or '24.

In fact, the main Vintondale presence on the Internet, excepting this, is the home page of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, on the Western Pennsylvania diocesan Internet server for the Orthodox Church in America. The church was originally organized in Wehrum, a few miles from Vintondale in Indiana County, around 1903 under sponsorship of the top-ranked Russian clergyman in the United States at the time, who later went on to become Patriarch of Moscow and to be glorified as an Orthodox saint, St. Tikhon. The church history on the parish home page says the Vintondale parish was begun in 1907 on a lot provided by the Vintondale Colliery Company for one dollar.

Also offering good content about Vintondale, especially pictures of the Ghost Town Trail and Eliza Furnace, are the “Best Fall Colors of the Web” and Ghost Town Trail Internet sites maintained by George Warholic, the latter of which is the best online tour of the trail.

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Click on the map to browse

The boroughs of Vintondale and Nanty Glo and Blacklick Township jointly comprise the Blacklick Valley School District. Three separate districts into the 1950's, the boroughs united in that decade and Blacklick Township joined the union in 1967.


The webmaster gratefully acknowledges Delano's Domain, A History of Warren Delano's Mining Towns of Vintondale, Wehrum and Claghorn, by Denise Dusza Weber, 1991, 445 pages, a treasury of historical information about Vintondale and Blacklick Valley, consulted in preparation of these pages.

Photo of Eliza Furnace by Ruth Troutman.


Reminiscences, questions, comments, and news about Vintondale should be sent to webmaster.

*The second photo set from the top is a video montage of "Vintondale in the mist" followed by a distant view of Vintondale taken in October 2004 from the top of the Vintondale mines rockdump. To the right is seen part of the acid mine drainage project and, adjacent the foot of the hill, the Ghost Town Trail. The stream is the Nanty Glo branch of Blacklick Creek, which has its source near Revloc. Just below Vintondale this branch joins the Colver branch to continue southwesterly toward the Conemaugh River. The third photo is the parks rest stop on the Ghost Town Trail.

 

Additional Vintondale Pages

Vintondale's literary figure, John "Jack" Burgan
News: Images of America - Vintondale published
Pleasant Valley golf course developer's death reported

Vintondale 2002 Homecoming photos
10 Vintondale photos from 2001 visit
Vintondale Churches

Vintondale Slide Show
Vintondale History Timeline
Vintondale High School class lists index
News: Vintondale history back in print
Vintondale Softball Team in 1960
Rexis from Blacklick Creek bridge, circa late 1930s
Vintondale front porch panorama, Lucille Beistel Hagens
Growing up in Vintondale in the '60s and '70s, Fran Wojtowicz Ward
Vintondale, my home town, by Ruth George Troutman
Vintondale Memories—the webmaster's earliest recollections
 

 
 

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