April - Mid-August, 1893 The TCI coal-mine and blast furnace
operations were suspended for four and one-half months due to a
strike. TCI incurred extraordinary expense in maintaining a force
of militia and paying the expenses of a large number of deputy
sheriffs. They were deemed necessary for the protection and
preservation of the company's property.
January 31, 1895 The TCI Annual Report reported that low
market price for pig iron continued depressing coke production.
BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE BEEHIVE COKE OVENS IN BLOCTON
June 3, 1897 The company entered into an agreement with the
Semet Solvey Company for the construction and operation by that
company of 60-120 by-products coke ovens. TCI was to furnish a
continuous supply of coal for the operation of the ovens and to
take the coke and gas produced. The conditions of the agreement
were fulfilled and this by-product coke oven plant was noteworthy
as being the first built in the South.
An Impressive photograph (c. 1899) of the north end of
the Blocton beehive coke ovens was on the cover of the
1900 TCI Annual Report.
600 TONS OF NUMBER ONE COKE
Tennessee Coal and Iron Company c. 1899 Courtesy: Charles Adams
1900-1907 The beehive coke ovens operated, on and off during
the first decade of the twentieth century.
BEEHIVE COKE OVENS AND THE TCI DIVISION OF UNITED STATES
1907 The Tennessee Coal and Iron Company was purchased by the
United States Steel Company.
1909 The Principal Additions and Improvements and
Extraordinary Replacements Report for 1909 recorded that new
tracks were installed at the coke ovens at Blocton. This was the
last record of improvements of the Blocton beehive coke ovens
mentioned in the annual records of TCI or USS.
1912 The last commercial picture of the Blocton beehive coke
ovens was taken by Birmingham photographer Woods.
Courtesy: Birmingham Public Library
800 TONS OF NUMBER ONE COKE
TCI Division of USS
1912-1919 The Blocton beehive coke ovens operated
spasmodically until they were replaced by the by-product coke
ovens at the TCI Fairfield works. In 1919 TCI almost doubled the
number of highly efficient Koppers by-product coke ovens at
1928 The TCI division of US S closed all its mines and
abandoned its mining operations at Blocton. This was due to high
freight rates and the beginning of the Great Depression.
1929-1930's The beehive coke ovens were used as shelters by
hobos during the Great Depression.
1933 The TCI division of USS closed its commissary at Blocton.
1935 The post office at Blocton was closed and all mail was
sent to West Blocton
1930's-1990's The youngsters of the area played among the
ruins, a few curious folk roamed the site, and local Bloctonians
gathered the stack stones and bricks for building homes and
1960 A photograph of the southern end of the historic beehive
coke ovens at Blocton (c. 1889) was the first photograph
depicting some of the early operations of TCI in Alabama in their
1960 TCI Centennial History.
1984 A picture of the northern end of the historic beehive
coke ovens (c. 1899) was published in Rhonda Ellison's book, Bibb
County Alabama, The First Hundred Years, 1818-1918.
1987 The huge north end buttress stones of the historic
beehive coke ovens were removed from the Blocton site I 00 years
after they were placed. The large stones were used to reconstruct
an old iron furnace at Tannehill State Park. Removal of the south
end buttress stones from the Town of West Blocton property was
stopped by concerned citizens.
A Panoramic picture of the Blocton historic beehive coke ovens
appeared in Wayne Flynt's book Mine, Mill &Microchip, A
Chronicle of Alabama Enterprise.
1996 The West Blocton Beehive Coke Ovens Advisory Committee
was established and restoration on the historic coke ovens began.
A full page photograph (c. 1912) of the historic beehive coke
ovens was used in the book, Views ofBirmitigha7n, as one
of the best examples of coke ovens in the Birmingham District.
An archeological site research was funded by the Alabama
Historical Commission through the National Recreational Trails
Fund. Dr. Jack Bergstresser was the industrial archeologist that
headed the "dig".
1997 The Town of West Blocton was awarded a $25,000 grant by
Federal and State agencies to build a one-half mile National
Recreational Trail at the southern end of the historic beehive
1998 The Town of West Blocton has applied for additional
grants and funding from federal, state, and local agencies and
from interested corporations, organizations, and individuals to
help preserve the historic beehive coke ovens.
Allen, W. B. Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company.
MS.533 84-148 NIH3.
Birmingham Public Library, Department of Archives and History,
Armes, Ethel. A Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama. Birmingham:
Chamber of Commerce, 1910.
Biography of a Business: Centennial Year 1860-1960. Birmingham:
Tennessee Coal and
Iron Division, United States Steel Corporation, n.p., 1960. Birmingham
City Directory. 1883-1933.
Cruikshank, George M. A History of Birmingham and its
Environs. 2 vols. Chicago:Lewis, 1920.
Deed Books, Bibb County. 1883 - 1893.
Ellison, Rhoda C. Bibb County Alabama : 7he First Hundred
Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1984.
--- Place Names of Bibb County, Alabama. Brierfield:
Cahaba Trace Commission, 1993.
Emfinger, Henry A. The Story of my Hometown, Aldrich,
Alabama. Aldrich: Privately
Flynt, Wayne. Mine, Mill and Microchip A Chronicle of
Alabama Enterprise. Northridge: Windsor, 1987.
McMillan, Malcolm C Yesterday's Birmingham. E. A.
Miami: Seemann, 1975.
McCord, Howard F. Baptists in Bibb County. Centreville:
Privately printed, 1979.
Keyes, Lyda M. History: First Baptist Church West Blocton,
Alabama. West Blocton: Privately printed, 1979.
Pierce, Lewis. Birmingham View Through the Years in
Birmingham Historical Society, 1996.
Squire, Joseph. Geological Survey of Alabama, voL V (Cahaba
Coal Field). Montgomery: Brown, 1890.
White. Margorie L. Ae Birmingham District: An Industrial
History and Guide, Birmingham: Birmingham Historical Society,
NUMBER ONE BLOCTON-The History of the Number One Mining Town:
This essay was written by Rev. Robert E. Praytor and was
compiled to HTML by Matt Arnold