Charles D. Bell, the prominent and well known mining and civil engineer of Pittsburg, Kansas, has had remarkable career in his profession during the few years that his still youthful manhood has given him for such work. He has been connected with some of the foremost coal mining and railroad enterprises in the country, and since locating for independent work in Pittsburg he has found a wide field for his services and has made a well deserved reputation. His comprehensive knowledge and executive ability, gained through study in one of the leading technical schools of the country and by practical experience under most competent engineers and industrial magnates, enable him to undertake and carry into successful completion the most arduous and difficult of mining operations, including not only the drawing of the plans, but the putting them into operation.
Mr. Bell was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1875, so that his birthplace and scenes of early life were among the industries in which he was to take such a prominent part when arrived at manhood. His parents were Samuel and Mary (Gamble) Bell. His father was a native of county Antrim, Ireland, and came to the United States in 1840, when a very young man, settling in western Pennsylvania. He was a farmer during the active period of his life, but later retired to the city of Pittsburg, where he died in 1903. His wife, a native of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, is still living.
Mr. Charles Bell finished his education in the Pennsylvania State Normal School in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he made a specialty in the course of mathematics, surveying and civil engineering. After leaving school he became a student, of both practice and theory, under his cousin, Selwyn M. Taylor, of Pittsburg, a distinguished mining engineer.
Mr. Taylor took his place among the authorities on coal mining during the early eighties. He had received his education in the Pittsburg high school, and studied engineering under R. L. McCully, whose partner he became. Mr. Taylor became a millionaire, the foundation of his fortune dating from his discovery of the Klondike coke region of Pennsylvania, in 1895, which discovery came at a very opportune time, the Connellsville coke region (which the Klondike equals in richness) having begun to decline at that time. From this time forward Mr. Taylor's fortune developed rapidly. He formed several great coal companies, notably the Eureka Company and the National Coal and Coke Company, owning large mines and coking industries in western Pennsylvania. He became associated with H. C. Frick in developing the San Bois coal fields in the northern part of the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, and had coal interests in other parts of the country. In fact his coal operations were almost world-wide, he being interested at the time of his death in an exploring expedition to the orient, the principal object of which was the discovery of coal fields. He was also the consulting engineer of the Fort Smith and Western Railroad, which was built through the coal fields of the Choctaw Nation. He suffered a tragic death on January 26, 1904. On that date a report reached his office in Pittsburg that an explosion had occurred in the Cheswick mines, fourteen miles from Pittsburg, owned by the Allegheny Coal Company, of which he was president, and that a large number of men were buried in the mine. Mr. Taylor went to the scene immediately, organized a relief expedition, of which he put himself at the head and went down into the mine. While making the search for miners he was overcome by the gas and, before he could be taken out, died. The Pittsburg papers of that date relate that Mr. Taylor died like a hero.
Mr. Bell worked under the skillful tutelage of Mr. Taylor for three years, in Pennsylvania and Michigan, the last year and a half being employed in surveying and mapping mines in the Pittsburg district. He then became connected with the James W. Ellsworth Coal Company as engineer of construction in the erection of their No. 1 and No. 2 plants in Washington county, Pennsylvania, each plant having a capacity of four thousands tons of coal daily. He also made a survey of twelve thousand acres of coal land in that vicinity. He then became engineer for the Southwestern Connellsville Coal Company, the coal department of the Federal Steel Company, and served in that capacity for a year, when the company was absorbed in the United States Steel Corporation, and his department was reorganized as the H. C. Frick Coke Company, for which company he was appointed division engineer. In January, 1902, Mr. Bell was commissioned by Frick and Mellon, the owners of the Fort Smith and Western Railroad, to go as mining engineer to the San Bois coal fields in Choctaw Nation. During his two years there he designed the plants, laid out the mines, erected tipples, set machinery, and did other important work for the road's extensive coal interests in that region.
In January, 1904, Mr. Bell opened his office in Pittsburg as a civil and mining engineer, and has already made such connections as to insure for him a fine future in this district. His large and important experience enables him to cope successfully with the most difficult problems of mining engineering, and he has the important advantage of being able to do all the work in connection with the locating and erection of a mining plant, not only the surveying of the ground, but also the mechanical and architectural work, including the erection of buildings, tipples, setting machinery, etc. He has made a specialty of mining engineering, but he has also done much railroad and municipal work, and is competent and thoroughly up to date in all departments of his great profession. Mr. Bell has recently been appointed city engineer of the city of Pittsburg.Pages 495-498 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, in November, 2003.
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