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Cannel Coal
Curious Fossil Plants Found in Coal Formations
Gathered at Darlington
Indian Relics Collected

(From Beaver Argus, Sept., 1885)
Milestones Vol 23 No 2 Summer 1998

A few days ago, in company with Dr. John D. Wood, we visited this remarkable coal bank, located about 18 miles southwest of New Castle, in Beaver County, owned and operated by Mr. 1. F. Mansfield, to whose kindness we are indebted for much valuable information, besides his courteous attention to our personal comfort.

The geological horizon of this immense coal seam has not been certainly determined; it may occupy the same relative position to the ferriferous limestone as the Neshannock Township and Hoghollow coals of this county, but it more likely is found at the place of the third seam above the limestone, making it the lower Freeport coal of PA, corresponding with No. 4 coal of Ohio. We find it overlaid with a fine grained white sandstone, about sixty feet in thickness - very likely the Freeport sand rock. The coal has been worked about one and one-half miles from the entrance, due north, and 600 yards wide; the thickness of the coal will average about eight feet, but increase, in places, to ten feet or more. Over this seam is about seven feet of shale, hardly distinguishable from the coal, from which coal oil was manufactured quite extensively, on the premises, many years ago, the coal itself being too rich in bitumen to convert into oil.

Underneath and attached to the cannel coal is about one foot of bituminous coal of good quality, which is taken out at the same time and marketed separately; they are united as firmly as if they were the same formation, but so very different in appearance, the cannel coal bearing a very close resemblance to common slate, and still so rich in bitumen.

The shale under the coal contains a great variety of fossil coal plants, - two workmen having been employed for years in gathering them, large collections having been furnished to scientific institutions and private individuals. Prof. Lesquereux, the eminent fossil botanist, of Columbus, OH, visited the mine an made a careful arrangement and catalogue of the different species, which can be found in the Beaver County report, including more than one hundred plants. Lepidodendra (a tree of the coal period) sixty feet long, were found, and plants so perfectly impressed that the terminal buds were preserved, and in a few instances the fruit.

It is the opinion of geologists that the vegetable growth from which this great coal deposit had its origin, was drifted as carbonaceous mud to where we now find the coal, and did not grow, as is usually the case, where deposited. It is strictly a local formation and is not found, of value, on adjoining lands.

I observed in passing through Darlington, that the old stone Academy building, which at one time was an institution of learning of considerable importance, and was under the direction of Rev. Josiah Hutchman, who for many years was in charge of the congregation in New Castle, is now a railroad station, and still in an excellent state of preservation, although its style of architecture gives evidence of a by-gone age.

On the opposite side of the street stands the tall old red house, four or five stories high, with gambrel roof, looking like an old fashioned grist mill, built, and once occupied by the eccentric Dr. Barney Dusten, who was well known by many of our citizens, and whose singularities, if printed, would be amusing. Half the red paint is worn from the weatherboards of the old house - the windows all broken out - standing silent and deserted, a fitting relic of its singular occupant who died about thirty years ago.

The collection of Indian stone axes, arrow heads, etc., in the possession of Mr. Mansfield, and procured mostly in his vicinity, is perhaps the most complete to be found in Western Pennsylvania. His orchard, on the land overlying the coal, includes one hundred acres, planted with the best varieties of apples, now in full bearing, and entirely surrounded by evergreen trees.

Mr. Mansfield called my attention to an important historical fact of which I was ignorant, that on the 5th of October, 1764, Col. Henry Bouquet, when on his expedition from Fort Pitt (now Pittsburg,) against the Ohio Indians, encamped about four miles southwest of Cannelton. The place is now owned by Mr. Mansfield, and is called "Bouquet's Camp."