The Origin of Al's Place:

Cokeburg, Pennsylvania
(and nearby Marianna)

Click thumbnails
to enlarge.



Message from the photographer, Dave:

Cokeburg is one of those out-of-the-way towns that you either have to be looking for it, or stumble across it accidentally. I knew where it was because when I worked for Westinghouse 20 years ago, the Bethlehem Energy mines in Marianna (#58) and Bentleyville (#51 and #60) were our contracts.

As the pictures show, Cokeburg is now a pleasant little suburb of Bentleyville, with nothing much of interest. I looked around for historical markers (there are none) or anything which might have told the story of the town. It's still the kind of town where 10 year old boys ride up to you on their bicycles and say "Nice Harley, Mister". The pictures with the halls and hardware store are on the main street. The Moose hall is as close to a bar as it gets.

Marianna once was a nice classic Pennsylvania mining town. The sun rose and set over the mine, and the old-timers would sit outside on benches when the weather was nice. As you see, there was no one around, and looking across the stream at where the mine once was kind of made me sad. I made a lot of service calls there just to keep things running. But the mine caught fire, and when they got it out they closed the mine. Beth #51 closed around the same time. I was working there the morning Challenger exploded on its way to orbit. Beth #60 is now owned by Eighty-Four Mining Co.

In 1953, TV Channel 2 is (and still is) KDKA-TV. Altoona still has a channel 10, but since we have a channel 11 in Pittsburgh you can't watch 10 here. You have to be some distance away, like Cokeburg, to be able to separate the stations. And low-band television signals are subject to ionospheric phenomena, enabling periodic long-distance reception as described in the show.

Getting from Pittsburgh to Cokeburg by car in 1953 wasn't particularly difficult. Leaving town, one would take U.S.Route 19 south to Washington, PA., then east on U.S.Route 40 to PA 917 North. Since Sam was unknown to the locals, who was to say that he wasn't a mine inspector? In those times, all he would have had to do was demonstrate knowledge of the workings.



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Check out for even more photos and information on Cokeburg and Marianna, Pennsylvania!

Cokeburg, PA      Marianna, PA

Pittsburg-Buffalo Mining company in Marianna