Exploring A Pennsylvania Coal Mine

What do you do when you have a day to kill in Scranton, Pennsylvania? After you visit all of The Office landmarks and try a piece of Old Forge pizza, the best thing to do is take a trip down into the old Lackawanna Coal Mine. It seems like a sleepy little attraction, but over 30,000 people visit the mine each year.

The Lackawanna Coal Mine even made an appearance on the third episode of The Office:

No, Michael, sadly there is no laser tag.

You begin your journey in a mine car (or mantrip car) that takes you 300 feet beneath the Earth through an anthracite coal mine. The ride down the slope takes 3-4 minutes.

As soon as you get out of the mine car you realize it is really freaking cold underground. It stays 53° down there all year long. It is a nice break from the summer heat, but I am definitely glad I brought a jacket. The walking tour covers one-half mile through the mine’s pathways and lasts about an hour.

The tour was very informative and gave us an idea of what it was like to work in a coal mine.

The Lackawanna Coal Mine originally opened in 1860 and operated until November 1966. The mine reopened in 1985 for visitors.

The mine was filled with mannequins that demonstrated the jobs that miners typically had. Of course, the first one I saw scared me to death because I thought it was real and some guy was just lurking in the mine.

Working in a coal mine is no joke. We learned about miners getting blown up, crushed, or suffocated. I feel pretty lucky that I have a cushy office job and the worst thing I have to worry about is a bad day in court.

You can walk through imagining what it was like dealing with poor air quality, ankle-deep water, blasting, dust, and practically zero light. The only light most miners had to work by was a small candle on top of their helmets.

The only requirement for working in the mine was being a man. There were no educational or vocational prerequisites. Boys as young as 7 worked for pennies guiding mules and opening doors for mine cars. Many died because they were more expendable to the coal company than the machinery they operated. It truly was a different time.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work in a mine, this is your chance to find out. The tour is a fun way to spend a hot afternoon and gives you a little taste of the history of the area.

4 Comments on “Exploring A Pennsylvania Coal Mine

  1. Great post!

    The Country Boy mine in Breckenridge CO is the only one I have been in.

    Mining is serious business!

    Like

    • It was really interesting and the guide was wonderful. I definitely undersold it. This weekend I am heading back to PA to visit Lancaster County and the Amish communities!

      Like

  2. The first section of Ken Follett’s first book in his three-volume trilogy about the twentieth century describes a teenager’s first day in a Welsh mine vividly and dramatically. The first book is called “Fall of Giants” and I highly recommend it.

    Like

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