Sometimes an important piece of local history lies in the bottom of a dusty suitcase. So it was with this recovered image of the Ravensdale mine. The photo was found by Joe Silvestri who was born in Black Diamond in 1920.
Joe’s father died in 1929 and five years later his widowed mother, Clothilda Silvestri married John Frank Valerio, himself a widower after the death of first wife, Minnie Nello.
When Frank Valerio died in 1967, an old leather valise was left behind at the home of his stepson, Joe. Discovered just weeks ago this photo from 1912-1913 was identified as the No. 1 tipple of the Ravensdale mine by local historian Michael Brathovde.
A mine tipple was the structure from which coal cars were hoisted into and out of the mine. At the top of the tipple a 2” thick steel cable spun on a large rotating bull-wheel. The opening to this mine was wide enough to allow two full sets of rail tracks so a loaded coal car could be pulled up the slope while an empty car descended.
Born Giovanni Francesco Valerio in 1887 in Castellamonte, Italy, Frank worked in this mine and is likely one of the miners standing on the tipple. This mine tragically exploded on November 16, 1915 resulting in the deaths of 31 coal miners. To learn more about the history of this area, consider walking the Ravensdale Park History Trail located between the Post Office and the Gracie Hanson building.
A series of 15 interpretive signs tell the story of Ravensdale as you walk along a two-third mile long trail past ball fields and soccer pitches which now dominate the park.
Ravensdale mine This photo comes courtesy of Joe Silvestri who recently celebrated his 99thbirthday; while JoAnne Matsumura and Donna Brathovde provided biographical information.