About This Place
Mount Union is a borough in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, 45 miles (72 km) southeast of Altoona, on the Juniata River. In the vicinity are found bituminous coal, ganister rock, fire clay, and some timber. A major Easter grass factory is located in the northern quadrant of the borough limits; until May 2007, the facility was owned by Bleyer Industries. The population was 2,504 at the 2000 census.
Mount Union was largely influenced by industry. It was at one time the world's largest producer of refractory material (silica brick), with three plants - General Refractories, United States Refractories and Harbison Walker. The refractory business in Mount union lasted from 1899 to about 1972, with limited production into the early 1990s. Other industries included two tanneries, a tanning extract plant, coal yards, and foundry and machine shops.
Mount Union was the northern terminus for the narrow gauge East Broad Top Railroad, connecting to the Main Line of the Middle Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad (now Norfolk Southern). The EBT maintained a large dual-gauge yard and coal cleaning plant in Mount Union and supplied coal to the Refractory plants. The EBT ceased operations in 1956 but the track is still in place and owned by the railroad. From 1998-2010 the Mount Union Connecting Railroad attempted to reactivate the EBT main track through Mount Union and rehabilitated it, but only a couple cars were serviced and none moved over the EBT trackage.