Tracy Searight ’94, an author and teacher, recently published Salem Township and Delmont, the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series. The book boasts more than 200 vintage images and memories of days gone by.
Several years ago, Tracy moved with her family to Delmont and became intrigued with the unique history of the area, becoming a member of the Westmoreland County Historical Society. She compiled vintage images from the collections of Bob Cupp, Robert Z. Yaley, and local residents as well as her own personal collection, and she hopes that this work will bring back memories and inspire the telling of future stories so the history of the coal patch communities and Delmont are not forgotten.
As early as 1885, Salem Township’s supply of coal attracted companies to build mines and “coal patch” towns. In 1916, Slickville was the last coal patch town built in Salem Township. When the demand for soft coal declined, the companies abandoned the mines, leaving the towns to survive on their own. Delmont, originally known as Salem Crossroads or New Salem, is one of the oldest boroughs in Westmoreland County.
Formed around a spring that was eventually piped to a watering trough that still remains, Delmont boasted a busy stagecoach route and was one of the main stagecoach stops on the Northern Turnpike. The arrival of the railroad left little need for stagecoaches, but Delmont continued to survive. In 1993, the Pennsylvania Turnpike 66 opened just south of Delmont in Salem Township, bringing promise to a community once disappointed by Northern Turnpike’s decline. Salem Township and Delmont provides a glimpse into the rich history of these communities.
Highlights of Salem Township and Delmont:
- Coal and patch communities
- Salem crossroads’ water trough
- Shields’s gift
Salem Township and Delmont is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing (888-313-2665).
Tracy lives in Delmont with her husband, Kevin Dibert ’93, and four children. When not doing historical research, she enjoys spending time with her family.