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Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company
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Maxzillian
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:32 pm    Post subject: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

This is located directly south of the Home Depot in town and dates back to 1891, believe it or not. This location used to be a silver smelter for about a decade and is located right next to the Weir City Zinc Works #2 location; which sadly is what the Home Depot was built on top of. Land reclamation.

You can read more about the Weir City smelter here:
http://www.pittks.org/userimages/smelterhistory.pdf
At the bottom you can see how they "reclaimed" the land and also a photo of the smelter/kiln.

Not much is left of this old location. Just the kiln and some foundations. It's also serving as someone's dump pile of concrete and bricks.





While scoping out this place, I noticed another building. It was of much newer construction, but had a very old looking smoke stack. On the short walk to this building, I noticed some broken pottery strewn about. One of which was labeled.



After some photoshop work and research, this is what it says:



So apparently I had stumbled across the old Pittsburg Pottery Company site. Never knew of it before, but there is info about it. Dated around the early 1900s. I imagine there was a reconstruction at one time and the place may have met it's end due to a fire.





One of the beehive kilns, it looks like they were vented to the smoke stack from the bottom.





Just under my feet in this photo is a small collapsed tunnel that leads to the kiln.



And the view from the smoke stack. Fairly roomy. Smile



Individually these were alright locations, but to find both of them in plain site of the road and parking lots as pretty surprising.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:37 am    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

Really cool pictures, and really amusing find. Yeah, I can agree it's rather odd they would be in plain sight of the road and in relatively good shape. I didn't see any from your photos, but were any of the areas vandalized?
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:42 am    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

Great pics and discovery... welcome to the board.
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Maxzillian
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 11:59 am    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

Pinwheel wrote:
Really cool pictures, and really amusing find. Yeah, I can agree it's rather odd they would be in plain sight of the road and in relatively good shape. I didn't see any from your photos, but were any of the areas vandalized?


The smelter kiln looks largely untouched. I'd say it's largely a victim of time. The kilns in the pottery factory look to be vandalized as they've all collapsed into a pile of bricks. The base of the chimney has also been kicked in so people could get into it.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 1:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

There just isn't much there to vandalize. It's kind of isolated from the residential areas of town and what is there at the site to really attract anybody? It's kind of interesting, but unless you're into old bricks or pottery, not much there to see.

The Wal Mart in current use is actually not the second WM in Pittsburg, but the third. The Bud's building was not the first, but the second. The oldest WM was located across the street near the Home Depot. There used to be a little vegetable market ran by a couple of little old Italian folks where the shoe store in Bud's parking lot is now. They were the parents of my Sociology professor not at PSU but at a Juco north of there.

My wife has many pieces of original Pittsburg Pottery. It's pretty cool stuff and locally collectable. If any of you know about the defunct Red Oak II project of Lowell Davis over at Carthage, there were some pieces over there in an old shed. I often wondered whether they got auctioned off or are still there.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:15 pm    Post subject: RE: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

I wonder if you could find any loose Silver that got away from the smelter?????
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Maxzillian
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

Scout wrote:
There just isn't much there to vandalize. It's kind of isolated from the residential areas of town and what is there at the site to really attract anybody? It's kind of interesting, but unless you're into old bricks or pottery, not much there to see.

The Wal Mart in current use is actually not the second WM in Pittsburg, but the third. The Bud's building was not the first, but the second. The oldest WM was located across the street near the Home Depot. There used to be a little vegetable market ran by a couple of little old Italian folks where the shoe store in Bud's parking lot is now. They were the parents of my Sociology professor not at PSU but at a Juco north of there.

My wife has many pieces of original Pittsburg Pottery. It's pretty cool stuff and locally collectable. If any of you know about the defunct Red Oak II project of Lowell Davis over at Carthage, there were some pieces over there in an old shed. I often wondered whether they got auctioned off or are still there.


The Walmart is still across the street (Broadway) from Home Depot unless there was another location. Granted, I figured the building was the first to be built there. I do agree though, there's really not much to vandalize, especially anymore, and the place does blend in with the local trees. I've passed by it for two years and never noticed it once. Only after some research did it occur to me that anything was there.

MONKEYMANN wrote:
I wonder if you could find any loose Silver that got away from the smelter?????


The thought did cross my mind, but seeing as how the location is well over a Century old, I'm sure any silver would be oxidized into nothing. Wink However, if you knew what to look for, you might be able to find some ore in the chat/tailings piles, but even that I doubt.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:40 am    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

When I made that comment, I meant stuff that nobody is watching. HD and WM are fairly well watched. There are some office buildings in there (fairly new ones) that may well be vacant by now. I guess they could be vandalized. There seemed to be at least one tenant left though. The whole four state area is just rife with places to explore. It's the not getting arrested that is the most challenging. Confused
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 1:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

I'm not sure where you get the "silver smelter" info. Pittsburg was a Zinc smelting center, not silver (ever from what I can determine). Nowhere in either the article referenced, or in any other source can I find reference to silver smelting in Pittsburg.

What you have posted a photo of is, as you pointed out, part of the Short Method Smelter, which was located south of the Weir Smelter (and later behind a ready mix cement plant which stood where the Papa Murphy's strip mall is). But these were coal fired zinc smelters, not silver. Thanks for the photo, however, it's been years since I had been back in there. Actually, the last time I was back in there I had just been to:

The Pittsburg Pottery Company, was a going concern up into the late seventies/early eighties. They produced crockery, planters, and the like.

The current Wal-Mart is the second WM in Pittsburg. The first was indeed where Big Lots/Bud's is. The store that stood where Home Depot currently is was Gibson's (Pamida) and an adjoining IGA. Gibson's was there before WM even thought of coming to Pittsburg.
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Maxzillian
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

Sorry for the late response. I only check in every couple months.

You're jogging my memory here, but I believe I picked up that it may have been a silver smelter from this site:

http://www.kshs.org/publicat/khq/1932/32_3_howell.htm

"During the same year, 1893, there were twenty-five active zinc smelters in the United States, distributed as follows: Illinois, 4; Indiana, 1; Kansas, 9; Missouri, 4; Pennsylvania, 2; all other states, 5. [51] Of the nine smelters in Kansas, six were located in Pittsburg.

Pittsburg did not long continue as the leading spelter-producing city. By the middle nineties the natural gas fields of southeast Kansas were being developed rapidly. These gas fields offered a fuel cheaper than coal. Many towns in the gas field were reaching out for industrial plants. Free gas, or gas at a very low cost, was offered them. This played havoc with the zinc smelters, as well as with some other industries, in the coal fields. Pittsburg began to lose its smelters. Soon all but two were gone. These two, the St. Louis and Pittsburg and the Cockerill smelters, continued to operate for a time on coal. Soon they were forced to close down because they could not meet competition. They remained closed until 1914, when the high price of spelter and great demand enabled them to operate again. They continued to operate for a period of three years, after which they were closed down and dismantled.

The closing of the zinc smelters was a severe blow to Pittsburg. It was followed by a loss in population of about 2,500 and a pay roll of approximately $25,000 a month. [52]

In addition to the zinc smelters in Pittsburg numbered a silver smelter among its industries for a few years. During the summer of 1890 some men looking for a suitable place for locating a silver smelter visited Pittsburg. They were attracted by cheap coal and the desire of the citizens for additional industrial plants. After looking the field over they decided to locate if sufficient aid in establishing the plant could be obtained from local citizens. After a few days' negotiations between the visitors and the Pittsburg Commercial Club an agreement was reached and a formal contract was entered into.

This agreement between the Pittsburg Commercial Club and the Short Method Refining Company of Pittsburg provided that the smelter company should refine not less than twenty tons of refractory ores at Pittsburg daily for a period of three years; and that the Commercial Club should erect a suitable building on a five-acre tract, which was to be donated, and supply $2,000 to be expended in the construction of furnaces. In addition, the smelter company agreed to install machinery in the amount of $16,000. [53]

The smelter company started construction work without delay, but was slow in completing the plant. Not until September, 1891, was it put into operation.

The Commercial Club was equally slow in paying its bonus. The day before the expiration of a "six months" clause of the contract, it lacked $750 of the amount due the smelter company. That night it held a meeting for the purpose or raising the amount due. Two hundred dollars was raised from those present. As a means of enthusing others arrangements were made to run a special train to the plant the next morning. About one hundred men took advantage of the excursion. The enthusiasm of the occasion raised another $100. On returning to Pittsburg a committee raised the balance, $450, in about three hours. [54]

The silver smelter operated at a profit for some four years. It shut down for want of operating capital, due to the fact that the ore-purchasing agent had managed to get hold of most of the money in the treasury through fraudulent invoices and other means and had left for parts unknown. The plant shut down, never to reopen. Fortunately for stockholders, the plant had earned and had paid to them in dividends during its period of operation more than the stock had cost.

The silver smelter was not a financial success for its owners, nor did it add materially to the pay roll of the town. But it was considered to have performed a valuable service for the town in advertising it and in furthering business enthusiasm. [55]"


Looking back, I may have jumped to conclusions on it being a silver smelter. Perhaps Short Method built a number of smelters? Unfortunately I didn't keep track of what research I had done, but the above linked site and the one linked in my original post had the majority of the information.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

Maxzillian wrote:
Sorry for the late response. I only check in every couple months.

You're jogging my memory here, but I believe I picked up that it may have been a silver smelter from this site:

http://www.kshs.org/publicat/khq/1932/32_3_howell.htm



On a related note, how do you find anything useful on the Kansas Historical Society's website?
I can never find any information worth my time trying to find it there.
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Maxzillian
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

By using Google. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:24 pm    Post subject: RE: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

yeah, figures, that site sucks for navigation.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: RE: Short Method Refining site and Pittsburg Pottery Company Reply with quote

Interesting. Thanks for the info Maxzillian. You win the prize. As far as the KSHS site, yeah, it's a real dog. I'll do some digging and see what else I can find on Short Method, in as much as additional/multiple sites.
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