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Boswell Borough

Boswell Borough Hall is located at 331 Center Street, Boswell PA 15531; phone: 814-629-6121.

Beginnings [1]

Boswell was founded by Merchants Coal Compnay of Baltimore (borough was incorporated in 1904) to extract the high-quality semi-bituminous coal that underlies 14,000 acres of the surrounding area including the planned community. The company sent engineers and geologists to determine both the quality and quantity of the coal in the region and concluded that it met both these criteria. Boswell was named for Thomas T. Boswell, the first president and supervisor of the coal company. William J. Vickroy, a civil engineer from Windber and Charles E. Hower, the coal company's first mine engineer, laid out Boswell and an 1,100-foot slope entry mine with accompanying extractive resources in 1901 on farm land acquired from local farmers in rural Jenner Township, Somerset County, in 1900. The town was laid out on a forty- five degree grid pattern on a one square mile parcel of land containing 1,600 50' x 120' lots. Every sixteen lots and rear fire alley formed a square. The streets of Boswell were 36-feet wide, with 12-foot sidewalks on both sides of the streets and 20-foot fire alleys between. The alleyways provided access to the privies and gardens and for deliveries of services. The Boswell Historic District contains two commercial streets, Main Street and Center Street, at the center of the borough.

Boswell developed simultaneously as a mining community and an independent commercial town after its founding in 1901. The coal company sold off surveyed lots to private investors who constructed homes and businesses throughout most of Boswell Borough. Main Street and Center Street were constructed independent of the coal company as the commercial center of the town.

  1. DiCiccio, Carmen, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Boswell Historic District, nomination document, 1994, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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