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Inside the abandoned Yellow Dog Village in Worthington, Pennsylvania

Hidden History: The Abandoned Yellow Dog Village Near Kittanning, PA

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Located seven miles west of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, Yellow Dog Village is a semi-abandoned company town that offers a fascinating look into the industrial history of western Pennsylvania.

Throughout Pennsylvania, small communities were built as company towns for workers at nearby factories and mines. The Pittsburgh Limestone Company owned approximately 150 miles of limestone mines outside of Worthington, Pennsylvania, but the roads of the early 20th century and the distance from town made it difficult for workers to get too and from the mines on the banks of Buffalo Creek.

Historic photo of Yellow Dog Village

A historic image of Yellow Dog Village.

Wanting to improve productivity at the mines and prevent a union from forming, the mining company agreed to raise wages and build a community near the mines for their workers. Since a contract made between a company and its workers to ensure a union isn’t formed is known as a yellow dog contract, the village became know as Yellow Dog Village.

(Join me for a Photography Workshop here on Sunday, November 18)

The homes at Yellow Dog Village were built in the 1910s and 1920s to provide housing for those that worked at the mine. Atop the hill, a large home was built for the mine’s manager, and the others were home to workers in the mines.

Home in Yellow Dog Village surrounded by underbrush

A single-family home in Yellow Dog Village.

I met with the village’s owner, Joe Meyer, on a hot summer day to learn more about the homes, explore them, and find out about his plans for the future. Since the property was a company town, Meyer was able to purchase the entire village in late 2014.

Inside a home in Yellow Dog Village

The homes retain interesting historical features and have solid structures.

Since then, he has lived in the mine manger’s house and has worked to maintain the homes in their current condition and find funding to restore them to their past glory.

The property currently features 19 duplexes and single-family homes, the large manager’s home, and a boarding house.

Homes in Yellow Dog Village near Kittanning, Pennsylvania

A row of homes in Yellow Dog Village.

When the limestone mines closed in the 1950s, it was the beginning of the end of Yellow Dog Village. Nevertheless, the village was still home to families, and it wasn’t until around 2010 that the last family moved out.

An old living room in Yellow Dog Village in Armstrong County, PA

Many of the homes have furniture and other personal items that were left when families moved out.

The final catalyst for the abandonment of Yellow Dog Village was the housing boom, which led to bad financial decisions, and ultimately the water being shut off at the property. To make money, anything of value was stripped from the homes, leaving them a sad shell of what they once were.

Between 2010 and 2014, the village sat abandoned and was heavily vandalized. Surprisingly, the vandalism did not include a significant amount of graffiti, which helped to preserve the historic charm of the village.

Abandoned belongings at Yellow Dog Village in western Pennsylvania

Modern items sit abandoned inside a home’s attic.

Still vandalism to the homes, as well as the lack of care, caused the homes to fall into disrepair. Before I set out to explore the homes, Meyer assured me that the homes are almost all structurally sound, and it was surprising how few weak spots I found in the home’s floors while walking around.

Bathroom at Yellow Dog Village in PA

A bathroom inside a home in Yellow Dog Village.

Even if the work required to fix up the homes is primarily cosmetic, there is a significant amount of cosmetic work that needs to be done to the homes to make them livable again.

While some homes are in better condition than others, most have an incredible amount of peeling paint, damaged flooring, and even smashed bathrooms. Interestingly, some rooms with ceiling fans have their blades pointing downward as much as 90 degrees.

Abandoned hallway in Yellow Dog Village

Much of the work at Yellow Dog Village is cosmetic, but there’s still a lot that needs to be done to make the homes livable again.

It’s truly amazing how much damage a bit of moisture can cause in just a few short years.

In addition to marveling at the power of moisture, it’s also fascinating looking at what was left inside of the homes.

Hole in the roof at a home in Yellow Dog Village near Kittanning, PA

Some homes require a bit more than cosmetic work.

While a few of the homes were obviously well cared for and the former residents removed all of their personal belongings, other homes look almost like someone walked out and didn’t take anything with them.

In addition to large pieces of furniture like couches and mattresses that have been left to rot amongst the homes, I also found unopened cans of spam and jars of peanut butter in one home.

Record player inside an abandoned home in western Pennsylvania

There are a wide variety of items left inside the homes at Yellow Dog Village.

One home had reminders of how recently these homes were abandoned with VHS copies of films like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Saving Silverman” lying on the floor amidst professional wrestling trading cards.

What struck me the most, however, where the family photos that I found in several of the homes. Photos of smiling children that were, for some reason, cast aside amidst the rubble. Meyer even told me that there is a wedding album in one home, though I didn’t see it during my explorations.

Abandoned child's room in Yellow Dog Village near Worthington, Pennsylvania

What was once a vibrant children’s room now sits dirty and abandoned.

Walls in some rooms were clearly decorated as children’s rooms with murals still on the wall that tell the story of what life was like for those that occupied Yellow Dog Village just a few short years ago.

This combination of historical details and modern mementoes create an absolutely fascinating place to explore, and each home told the story of those that lived in Yellow Dog Village during its 90 years as an active community.

An American flag lies in a hallway at Yellow Dog Village

An American flag lies in an abandoned second-floor hallway.

Fortunately, despite how bleak things look today, owner Joe Meyer has a plan to bring life back to Yellow Dog Village.

A retired history teacher, Meyer bought the village with the goal of restoring it to its historic charm and providing a place for people to visit and experience what life was like in the 1920s.

Boarding house at Yellow Dog Village in Worthington, Pennsylvania

A hallway inside Yellow Dog Village’s old boarding house.

I asked Meyer to look into the future and tell me what his ultimate goal was with Yellow Dog Village, and he told me that he envisions a community where visitors can come to the homes and live for a week as if they are in the 1920s, with a few modern conveniences (battery-powered lights and bottled drinking water being two).

A home being reclaimed by nature in Yellow Dog Village

A home being reclaimed by nature.

Instead of restoring each home to 21st century living standards, the homes will be fixed up and made safe, but offer a rustic living experience without most modern conveniences.

During the day, visitors to the village will one day be able to learn how to live off of the land or learn period-appropriate jobs and crafts from skilled artisans that will live full-time at the village.

Trash and debris at Yellow Dog Village

Debris sits amidst a deteriorating home at Yellow Dog Village.

In this way, it will be a working history village were visitors can step back from their hectic modern lives and experience what life was like a century ago.

However, until funding comes through for this grand idea, Yellow Dog Village sits abandoned as a testament to life both in the 1920s and in the first decade of the 20th century. This unique combination, makes it an incredibly fascinating place to explore.

Visiting Yellow Dog Village

Row of abandoned homes at Yellow Dog Village in northwestern Pennsylvania

The hope is to make Yellow Dog Village into an example of life in the 1920s.

Yellow Dog Village is on private property about 20 minutes west of Kittanning in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. As the village is on private property, it is necessary to contact the owner of the property prior to visiting. Different pricing options are available depending on your interest and how much time you would like to spend at the site.

Abandoned home in western Pennsylvania

An abandoned room in Yellow Dog Village.

(Join me for a Photography Workshop here on Sunday, November 18)

At the time of publication, Yellow Dog Village is not open for overnight stays, however, there is home that this will happen soon. Information about what an overnight stay will entail and the programs planned can be found on the village’s website.

For more information, visit YellowDogVillage.com.

Explore more abandoned history at the J.W. Cooper School in northeastern PA and the Cambria Iron Works in Johnstown. Or, if you’re visiting the area, check out the Armstrong County Historical Society Museum and Check’s Radio Museum.

See map below for other area attractions.

[webdirectory-map height=350 ajax_loading=1 start_latitude=40.818963 start_longitude=-79.660458 start_zoom=11 show_readmore_button=0]
Jim Cheney of UncoveringPA

Jim Cheney is the creator of UncoveringPA.com. Based in the state capital of Harrisburg, Jim frequently travels around Pennsylvania and has visited, written about, and photographed all 67 counties in the state. He has also traveled to more than 30 different countries around the world.

Inside the Abandoned Yellow Dog Village near Kittanning, Pennsylvania

6 Comments

  • Bill Huber

    Jim,
    Mr. Meyer might want to visit Cass, West Virginia, which offers overnight stays in historic company-town houses. Cass is also the home of the wonderful Cass Scenic Railroad and Park.

  • Gloria

    I think one way to restore the village is to sell the houses separately. One side could be that owners and the other side to rent out I am sure there could be deals made this could also raise funds for getting water and sewage. I grew up there it was a great place and would love to see it restored I can not believe that someone left the place go more should have been done to raise the funds to keep it alive

    • Jim Cheney

      My understanding from talking to the owner is that there are issues that prevent the property from being broken up and the homes sold individually, but you’d have to ask him directly to find out the exact reason for that.

  • Gloria

    That is to bad But there is always. Ways to get around things you just have to want it bad enough I would love to see our old house My parents took care of it as if they owned it

  • Larry Springman

    Hi
    I would love to get in touch with Mr. Meyer about this village. Can anyone give me his contract information?

    • Jim Cheney

      All the information to contact Mr. Meyer can be found on the village’s website which is linked to at the bottom of this article.

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