The Pittsburg County town of Pittsburg is located approximately twenty miles southeast of McAlester on State Highway 63. Non-Indian settlement can be traced to 1899 when Daniel Edwards and his son Thomas sank a coal mine shaft in the Choctaw Nation, two miles east of Kiowa. In 1903 the Post Office Department established a post office named Cowpers in the vicinity and appointed Daniel Edwards as postmaster. Later that year, the town name changed to Edwards. In 1909 Edwards again changed it to Pittsburg, which was incorporated in 1912.
In 1906 the McAlester-Edwards Coal Company purchased the mining interest of the Edwards family. The company had numerous shareholders, with F. B. Drew owning the majority. In 1909 the miners' houses were moved about one mile east to company-owned land. Streets, alleys, and a park were platted. While coal was king, Pittsburg remained a booming town. In 1910 the community boasted two railroads, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway, along with a bank, a pharmacy, and a number of other business. At that time two mines operated.
In 1919 Mine Number Three opened, followed by Mine Number Four in 1922. Pittsburg's mines had a number of fatal accidents but never suffered a major disaster. The 1920 population stood at 892. While the mines functioned, between 1900 to the 1940s, the population hovered around 900. As cheaper energy resources began to replace coal, the mines slowed production and eventually closed. By the mid-1940s only small operations existed. The Hodgens family owned Pittsburg's last operating mine. By 1950 the population had dropped to 278, declining to 195 in 1960, but rising to 305 in 1980.
Ranching and agriculture have replaced coal as the area's economic focus. In 1988 the Pittsburg School and Gymnasium (NR 88001415) was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Nine miles southeast of town, Blackburn's Station Site (NR 73001568), a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route, is also listed in the National Register. The 2000 census registered 280 residents.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pittsburg County, Oklahoma: People and Places (McAlester, Okla.: Pittsburg County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1997). George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965).
Betty Wood Blessing
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