Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Photographs anybody?

All about Clairton
Call for Photos

An introduction: Who is Jim Hartman and why are they all talking about him? Jim is a friend. Not from Clairton, but almost qualifies. He is a retired mail carrier from Mifflin Township. Jim is also an avid historian and author, as well as the president of the Mifflin Township Historical Society. Mifflin Township at one time included a vast area from which several cities were carved, including Clairton. Thus, when he researches the area he researches Clairton as well as other surrounding communities. I consider Jim more of a docent than a figurehead of a historical society. He loves and lives the history of the area. He has documented, scanned, and carefully prepared many photographs and documents from our town, including decades of the Clairton Progress. We often use his material in our Clairton blogs

More specifically: Mifflin Township was one of the seven original townships that made up Allegheny County in 1788. It encompassed the area that would become Clairton, Dravosburg, Duquesne, Hayes, Homestead, Jefferson Hills, Lincoln Place, Munhall, Pleasant Hills, West Elizabeth, West homestead, West Mifflin, and Whittaker. Jim Hartman has diligently documented the early years of those communities that once made up Mifflin Township and assembled many photos, stories, and artifacts into his first book, “Homestead and Mifflin Township.” The book was published by Arcadia Publishing and is available via as well as other booksellers.

Next stop… Clairton: Jim is currently gathering photos, stories, and memorabilia from the early years of Clairton. He plans to assemble another book in an effort to preserve the history of our city. From Civil War days of the mid-1800s when Clairton was a quiet farming community to the dawn of the twentieth century when the park on Clairton’s Monongahela River bank drew thousands of upscale Pittsburghers for weekend picnics, to the industrial steel and coke industry that would bring an influx of immigrants, to the World War II era and the subsequent prosperity it spawned, Clairton has had a unique history. Jim’s efforts include the recording and preservation of that history to keep it alive for your children, grandchildren, and their offspring. It all starts with a community effort. The purpose of this effort will be to preserve our heritage through photographs. The other purpose is to compile a pictorial history of Clairton to be published by Arcadia Publishing. After this pictorial history there are plans to complete a larger scale book of about 300 pages on Clairton area history.

Calling all photos and sources: I am putting out an ALL POINTS BULLETIN for any and all Clairton memorabilia to include; photos, post cards, artifacts, and stories about Clairton’s rich history. Send me an email and I will pass the information on to Jim. If you (or your grandkids) have the wherewithal, scan and email photos. If the photos can be scanned 300 DPI and saved as a TIFF file - that is the best and can be Emailed to me or directly to Jim at 412.600.0229 or email him at

Otherwise they can be mailed to the historical society and they will be returned. Be sure some cardboard is placed among the photos or post cards to keep them from getting folded. Send them to:

Mifflin Township Historical Society
3000 Lebanon Church Rd. #202
West Mifflin, PA 15122

Football; a Clairton tradition: This year’s football team has enjoyed tremendous success through the first three games of the season. The Bears have crushed their opposition in each of the games. They are built on a long and solid tradition. How solid? All Americans Andy Bershock and Jim Kelley lead the way in accolades, but many others have starred on and off the field, including former Bear, Notre Damer, and Clairton Mayor Ken Stilley.

The 2010 team’s seniors look to have a shot at keeping up the high standards set by last year’s team. But this season’s freshmen will have an even more profound sense of history. The class of 2014 will be playing in the one hundredth season of Clairton football. The team that was called the Orange, the Cobras, and now the Bears has had a rich history.

That first team had a 4-4 record in 1914 and was coached by “Tillie” Dewar of Elizabeth. Players included Joe Bereznay, Ralph Altman, “Boney” Wetzel, (missing first name) Stoke, (missing first name) Helzel, Harold Beatty, George Barone, Leonard White, James Morgan, Claude Williams, “Preach” Coulter, Ed Smith, Bradford Coleord, Paul Reed, Paddy Brogan, and manager Dick Reager. The Superintendent of scools was F. N. Fritz.

Sixteen years after that first football squad played, one of its members, Jimmy Morgan was the town’s premier dentist. Also during that 1930 season, sixteen years into the football program, the “Orange Jerseys” as they were known, would have their brand new Clairton football stadium dedicated in festivities held before the game. Bands from CHS as well as Duquesne High School (their rival the night of the dedication) marched from the high school to the stadium in what would become a tradition.

Also that year, profits from the newly-opened Clairton Park Swimming Pool and bathhouse came in at about $8,500; a figure that was more than double what needed to cover the bond payment. That put the naysayers to rest. The pool continued to be a strong revenue source for the City. More than 83,000 swimmers enjoyed the pool that first season.

Finally from the November 13, 1930 Clairton Progress, the prominent Clairton Skapik family, who still own and operate their store on Miller and Waddell Avenues, handed out tickets to every customer who made a purchase of one dollar or more. Each Saturday a drawing was held and the lucky winner got to take home a free live turkey. The winner needed to be present to win and in the event the winner had no use for the turkey, it was donated to a needy family. Now THOSE are the kinds of traditions that made our city great.

A little blogging music Maestro... “There’s No Place Like Home” by the Elvis.

Dr. Forgot

1 comment:

Silvia said...

Hi, I have 2 images of Clairton about 1930, my grandfather worked there like a steel mill. I tried to send the images but the mail it doesnt work. Please can you leave me another mail, can you help me about more images of Clairton about 1930. During a while my grandfather lived in ravensburg boulevard.
many thanks

Silvia zanetti