Article taken from the Sesquicentennial Souvenir Program published in 1956.
Coke Became KING Here
By Willard L. Lewis
Although the by-product oven long ago spelled the doom of the beehive type Connellsville is still remembered for the position it once held as the world's coke center.
The first successful beehive oven was built only 300 feet from the old stone house erected by Zachariah Connell, founder of this city. That was the humble beginning of what grew into an industrial giant. The coke region ultimately stretched 21 miles in either direction - north and south. In 1905 the region produced an amount of coke, which, if loaded on railroad freight cars, would have made a train so long the engine in front would have gone from Connellsville to San Francisco and back before the caboose had moved from the starting point!
Metallurgically, Connellsville coke was tops. Eighty-nine percent composed of carbon, a major source of heat, and sulphur, undesirable, made up only one percent. The first coal to be coked in an oven here was hauled from the Plumer mine, a local pit.
A few ovens remain in operation at spots throughout the region, but the industry no longer belongs to Connellsville. The coal today goes into by-product ovens where every ingredient is captured and used. In the place of coke, new industry - glass, steel, textiles, paint - has taken over, and the skies are no longer clouded with smoke.