Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register

West-virginia-encyclopedia-text

SharePrint Bretz Coke Ovens

Bretzoven_up_medium

The Bretz coke ovens, the last beehive coke ovens to operate in West Virginia, are located in Preston County a half-mile southwest of Masontown. The town of Bretz and the mining plant there were built by the West Virginia Coal Company about 1903, and were named for an official of the Morgantown & Kingwood Railroad. After purchasing this railroad in 1902, Stephen B. Elkins acquired Bretz in 1906, then built 400 beehive coke ovens there. His Elkins Coal & Coke Company put the ovens into full production in 1907, shipping the coke to the huge steel plant at Sparrows Point near Baltimore. In 1919, Bethlehem Steel Corporation acquired the Bretz property, but shut it down the following year and moved its coking operations to a modern byproduct facility in Baltimore. The Bretz mine and coke ovens were operated only intermittently, during periods of peak steel production, until 1953, when the Mercury Coal & Coke Company purchased the property. New coal handling equipment was installed, the ovens were refurbished, and the facility was put back into operation. It operated on a nearly full-time basis until 1981. As one of the last surviving beehive coke making operations in the nation, the Bretz coke ovens and mining plant were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 as the Elkins Coal & Coke Company Historic District.

Read the National Register nomination.

This Article was written by Michael Edward Workman

Last Revised on March 28, 2013


Sources

"Elkins Coal & Coke Company Historic District." National Register of Historic Places Nomination, West Virginia Division of Culture & History, 1978.

Cite This Article

Workman, Michael Edward "Bretz Coke Ovens." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 28 March 2013. Web. 20 September 2018.

Comments?

There aren't any comments for this article yet.

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2018 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.