Fayette County Cultural Trust - Explore Fayette County Pennsylvania
 
 
Connellsville, Pennsylvania
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
During the French and Indian War, a British army commanded by General Edward Braddock approached Fort Duquesne and crossed the Youghiogheny River at Stewart's Crossing, which is situated in the middle of what is now the City of Connellsville.
 
Connellsville was officially founded as a township in 1793 then as a borough on March 1, 1806 by Zachariah Connell, a militia captain during the American Revolution. In February 1909. Balloting in New Haven and Connellsville resulted in these two boroughs joining and becoming the first City in Fayette County on May 12, 1911.
 
Due to the city’s location in the center of the Connellsville coalfield, during the coke and coal mining days, Connellsville had at one time more millionaires per capita than any other place in the country and possibly the world. This was when Connellsville was king of coal and coke with beehive ovens lighting up the hillsides. Railroads crisscrossed the city; streetcars connected neighborhoods and other towns. When Connellsville became a city in 1909, estimates have the population at more than 22,000.
 
In December 1903 the Connellsville train wreck kills 66 people as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Dequesne Limited runs into timber dropped from a freight train.
 
Coal mining and accompanying industries became the major source of employment and local revenue during the later half of the nineteenth century. It brought a great deal wealth to the Fayette county region. This prosperity, however, remained restricted to the wealthy elite. Many Italian and Slovak immigrants worked in the coal mines and coke ovens in a state of poverty.
 
When the demand for coke around the turn of the century pushed many other emerging industries out, the city along with Fayette County became almost entirely dependent on both coal and coke. When better heating processes were developed, Connellsville's coke was no longer needed and the industry went bust — along with the economy of Fayette County.
 
Connellsville was the home of two prominent athletes of the first half of the 20th century: University of Notre Dame quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack and 1936 Olympic 800 meter gold medalist John Woodruff. Displays honoring the two star athletes can be found in Connellsville Area High School. Each year, a 5-kilometer road race is held in Connellsville to honor Woodruff.