The village of Byrnesville no longer exists.
It began in 1856 and was completely dismantled
Byrnesville was a small village located in
Central Pennsylvania. It was divided into two parts,
Upper and Lower Byrnesville. The first homes were
built in Lower Byrnesville around 1856 and in Upper
Byrnesville around 1865.
The homes were built to house employees of
a nearby coal company. Byrnesville was located
in the Anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania
and coal mining and processing was its main industry.
The population over the years varied as the coal mines had
good and bad times. The majority of the people who first settled
there were mostly Irish immigrants. Through the years the
village was inhabited mostly by Irish Catholics. They attended
St. Ignatius Church in nearby Centralia. An elementary school
was located in early Byrnesville but was discontinued in the
early 1930s. After that the children attended Conyngham Township
schools and St. Ignatius Catholic school in Centralia.
Byrnesville was named after the Byrnes family
who were the first settlers. Small grocery
stores were operated by the Reilley, Byrnes and
Gaughan families. A barroom was owned by another Gaughan
family. Most of the shopping was done at nearby larger towns
of Mount Carmel and Ashland.
Byrnesville was part of and was governed by
Conyngham township and Columbia County. After World
War 2 ended, the coal mining industry started to
decline and many of the younger people moved to
other areas to find work.
In the 1960s a fire ignited a coal seam near
Centralia and it continued to burn underground
and spread to adjoining areas. A federal government
project relocated families out of Byrnesville in
the 1980s because of the smoke and fumes from the underground
mine fire. The population of Byrnesville just before the
exodus from the fire was approximately 75 people living in 29 homes.
The last family moved in 1996 and the final house was torn
down at that time. The only remaining structures there now are
a religious shrine on a hillside, a storage trailer, and an unused
garage. Because the fire destroyed a part of nearby Route
61, it is now rerouted through the former village of Byrnesville.
(Historical information submitted by Mike Reilley)