Mining: Company Town

Table of Contents

A “company town” as their locale in Candles is a geographical location where a company establishes an economic activity and provides housing for its workers.  The company controlled everything in the town from the grocery store to the movies (if they even had movies).  All in all “management told him what needed to be done, and, in total dependence, the miner did what he was told.”

Five characteristics of Coal Company Towns (SW Pennsylvania):

  1. typically financed, built, owned, maintained, and operated by just one company, everything in the town was provided by the company and bore the stamp of the company engineer
  2. dominant house type was a one or two-story detached dwellings, each identical to the next in terms of style and construction
  3. economy of construction, cheaply constructed houses usually occupied by families
  4. town layout and settlement, usually arranged in a linear or grid like pattern, lined up along railroad routes or creek beds, clustered near the mine opening
  5. differentiation, exhibited as an outward expression of socioeconomic stratification, with distinct gradations of wealth and power manifested, bimodal society sharply divided between management and labor

The company store functioned as a general store providing not only food and clothing but any necessity could be found there.  The administrative offices were generally on the second floor and functioned as “the arm” of the company.  Company stores often acted as the town hall, post office etc. and became a casual place to exchange social information

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