The National Road at Eckhart Mines
by Polla Drummond Horn
For the FROSTBURG EXPRESS
The Maryland Mining Company built the first of the company towns, Eckhart Mines, in about 1835. By 1852, seventy small stone cottages and log framed brick dwellings stood around the mine openings. Some of the cottages can still be seen today, much as they looked in 1852.
William Bowen, born in England, left his homeland about 1846 and came to America, the land of opportunity. William and his wife, Eliza, settled in the little town of Eckhart with their two little girls. About a year later their first son was born and they named him Benjamin. William and Eliza went on to have 10 more children, four girls and six boys. Quickly their family numbered 15.
By 1870 William and sons Benjamin, 23; Thomas, 17; and James, 15 were working in the coal mines in Eckhart. At that time, it took four workers to feed a family of fifteen. However, Benjamin had fallen in love and in 1875 was married to Laura Fuller and soon had three children of his own.
“On January 29, 1881 Benjamin Bowen was killed by a fall of rock in Eckhart Slope Mine. He and a brother, Samuel, were working together when the accident occurred. His body was taken to Frostburg for inquest. The Consolidated Coal Company was exonerated in the death as reported by Robert C. Paul, foreman of the inquest.”
(Excerpts from the Cumberland Times)
“Benjamin Bowen, who lost his life in the Eckhart Slope, was warned half an hour before he was killed, that the roof in his working place was unsafe, and required to be supported by props. He neglected the order of the overseer, hence was killed by the roof falling upon him.”
(Annual Inspectors Report for Allegany and Garrett Counties)
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is gratefully accepting contributions for the placement of an educational Memorial at the crossroads of Rt. 36 and the national Road in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor our George’s Creek Valley Miners, and name those who perished while mining. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF, P.O. Box 765, Frostburg, MD
Polla Horn at email@example.com
Bucky Schriver at firstname.lastname@example.org
to share your thoughts and stories.
Be on the lookout for future Miner Recollections.