Record Turnout For Spring Walk

May 23, 2013 at 2:49 PM

             Helvetia boomed again for at least one more day when 90 plus people turned out for the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 5thallenbaugh.jpg Annual Spring Walk. It was a record turnout for the event.

            They arrived in everything from ATVs to SUVs, gathering at the old company store, one of the few remaining buildings from Helvetia’s days as the largest coal mine in Pennsylvania.

            Bill Allenbaugh (right), a native “Helvetian,” as he termed the residents of the community, led the tour. He filled the 90 minute walk with stories of growing up in Helvetia in the 1950s, the operation of the mines, the differences between “uptown” and “downtown” Helvetia, and the community’s major recreational activity, baseball.

            Aiding him with the descriptions were native “Helvetians” Jim Miller, Ron Chollock, and several others. The walk took in the area of the company store and along Helvetia Road to a spot where the remains of the powerhouse and the dam could be viewed. Along the way, short side trips into the woods revealed the foundations of houses and the remains of outhouse alley.

            Helvetia was a company town based around two mineshafts that produced coal from approximately 1891 until Feb. 25, 1954, when the company closed the mines with only a one-day notice. With the closure of the mines the community that had been named in 1947 as the top mining town in Pennsylvania, based on appearance, slowly began to disappear becoming the ghost town it is today.

           But, for at least one day, the life of Helvetia was revived through the memories of its former residents and those interested in its history.


Bill Allenbaugh (far left) leads the tour along the highway in Helvetia.



"Helvetians" returning for the tour are front from left:  Carol Laughlin, Scott Hilliard, Bill Allenbaugh, Beverly (McGranor) Holt and Mary Jane Miller. Back from left:  Jerry Stottish, Ron Chollock, Ron Lyons, Jim Miller, and Paula (Kelchner) Stone.

Category: News