A Coal Mining Heritage Site
The Eclipse Company Town, originally known as Hocking , was built by the Hocking Valley Coal Company between 1900 and 1902. It was operated by the Johnson Brothers, for whom Johnson Road was named. The mine was first known as the Johnson Brothers Coal Company. The company town sits atop Eclipse Mine #4; one of several mines operated by the Hocking Valley Coal Company.
The now fully restored company store in the Eclipse Company Town served as the pay station and general store for the miners. Payment was made through a credit system, maintained on ledgers kept at the store. Credit was earned from the amount of tons of coal loaded from the mine each day and that credit was traded in for goods at the store or paid in cash for wages. The paymaster for the mine kept his office at the store in a small attached building.
Married miners without children rented the two front rooms of the second floor of the store. Miners with families rented the houses. Originally, the cluster of ten ‘bungalow’ type houses in the town were known as Ten Hill. Later, it became known as “the camp.”
The Hocking Coal Company Town at one time encompassed a much larger area than Eclipse. It originally included “the camp” (Eclipse Company Town) and “Five Spot”, located where US Route 33 now passes, two houses right next to the junction of Route 33 and Johnson Road (the driveway there is still visible), and the fourteen houses on the hill above the camp.
The place where the mining cars were emptied, the coal prepared and then loaded for transport, was called the Tipple. The Tipple and its entrance to the mine were on the east side of Route 33. In 1922, the Hocking mine’s tipple was considered one of the most modern tipples in the state. The brick wash house for the mine is still standing and is located on the River Road just past the mobile home park on the east side of Route 33.
The mine operated from 1900 until the early 1930′s when it and many other mines in the area closed during the Depression. It reopened in 1940 as part of the WWII effort; and continued operations until 1948. After it closed, the company store was used as a barn for storing hay and grain, a machine shop and then as a VFW Hall in the 1950s. Ownership of the surface land of and around the store and houses transferred to the former mine’s superintendent, E.A. Cottingham. He rented out the houses and land until his death. At this point the houses and lands passed on to his daughter, Virginia Gamertsfelder, who still lives in the area with her family.
In 1997, The Hocking Coal Company Town was purchased from the Gamertsfelder family by five friends who decided to take on the restoration of the company town because of their interests in historic preservation, local history and the Hocking-Adena Bike Path; which runs adjacent to the company town. At this point, the friends organized their efforts as Eclipse, Ltd., the Hocking Coal Company Town was renamed Eclipse Company Town, and the restoration of the houses began.
Eclipse Company Town Today
The town is comprised of twelve company houses, one shotgun house and the Company Store. In 1999, five houses (including the shotgun house) were moved from the top of the hill above Johnson Road to the camp area. This is the only area of the company town to survive. The houses are currently home to several types of businesses, as well as residences. The restoration of the former company store was completed in 2008 and now serves as a restaurant and events center known as Kiser’s Barbeque at Eclipse.
Eclipse Company Town is proud to be part of the Little Cities of Black Diamonds and on the National Register of Historic Places as designated by the US Department of the Interior and the Ohio Historical Society.