Eclipse Company Town
The Eclipse Company Town was originally known as Hocking and was built by the Hocking Valley Coal Company between 1900 and 1902. It operated until the 1930s when it, along with other mines closed due to the Depression. It was later opened in 1940 to help in the World War II effort. Its reopening did not last long and the mine closed again in 1948. In 1997 a group purchased the Hocking Coal Company town in order to restore it for historic preservation. The group changed the name from Hocking Coal Company town to the Eclipse Company Town.
Backstory and Context
Originally known as Hocking, the Eclipse Company Town was built by the Hocking Valley Coal Company. This town was built between 1900 and 1902. The Johnson Brothers operated the town. The mine was first called the Johnson Brothers Coal Company. The town sits atop Eclipse Mine #4, which was one of several mines that was operated by the Hocking Valley Coal Company.
The Eclipse Company Town served as a pay station and general store for miners in the area. A credit system was used to make payments. Ledgers were maintained and kept at the store. Credit was earned by keeping track of the amount of coal miners loaded from the mine each day. The credit earned was then traded for goods at the store or paid in cash for wages. A small attached building at the store was used for the office of the mines paymaster.
Two front rooms on the second floor of the store could be rented by married miners who did not have children. Houses were rented by miners who had families. There were ten “bungalow” type houses in the town that were originally known as Ten Hill but that became known as “the camp”.
Originally, the Hocking Coal Company Town covered a much greater area than the Eclipse. The area included the Eclipse Company Town and “Five Spot” which was located where Route 33 now passes. There were also two houses right next to the junction of Route 33 and Johnson Road, and fourteen houses on the hill above the camp that belonged to the Hocking Coal Company Town.
The Tipple was were the mining cars were emptied. It was also were coal was prepared and loaded for transport. The Hocking mine’s tipple, in 1922, was considered one of the most modern in the state. Still standing today, the brick wash house for the mine is located on River Road just past the mobile home park on the east side of Route 33.
Beginning in 1900, the mine operated until the early 1930s. The Depression caused it and many other mines to close. In 1940 the mine reopened as part of the World War II effort. It continued to operate until 1948. The company store was used as a barn to store hay and grain, and a machine ship after its closure. In the 1950s in was used as a Veteran of Foreign Wars Hall.
E.A. Cottingham, the former mine’s superintendent, obtained ownership of the land on and around the store and houses after its closure. Up until his death, Cottingham rented out the houses and land. Following his death, the houses and lands transferred to his daughter Virginia Gamertsfelder.
The Hocking Coal Company Town was sold to a group of friends by the Gamertsfelder family in 1997. The group wanted to restore the company town for historic preservation. The group organized their efforts as Eclipse, Ltd. And the Hocking Coal Company Town was renamed Eclipse Company Town.
The Eclipse Company Town has twelve company houses, a shotgun house and the Company Store. Five houses, including the shotgun house, were moved to the camp area from the tip of the hill above Johnson Road in 1999. The houses currently house business and residents. In 2008 the restoration of the company store was completed. It now operates as a restaurant and event center and is known as Kiser’s Barbeque at Eclipse.