Sightseeing: Coal Mines

Would you tour a coal mine if you could while traveling?

You can today if you are in Scranton, PA in Lackawanna County.  Located in McDade Park, one can tour the Lackawanna Coal Mine via a sort descent in a mine car and then by foot.  The mine ceased to operate in 1966, and for a while it was abandoned before it was was restored and opened to the public.  Close by the mine is both a Coal Mine Museum and the Anthracite Heritage Museum.

Would you have gone to a (likely active) coal mine in 1929?

Dotty, Edie, and Ev did just that on September 2nd.  Dotty in her postcard home, written the next day, wrote that they got to use real miner’s lights.

I still need to do some in-depth research on Scranton’s coal mining history, but from what I can tell in the little I’ve done so far, home use of coal was at it’s peak in the 1920s, and that anthracite mining didn’t really start to wain until after WWII.  Although I only have one sentence that tells me that the three toured a coal mine, and that sentence does not confirm that it was a working mine, I believe that it was.  Who in Scranton would be operating an old mine as a tourist opportunity when so many in the area were directly involved in the industry? (If you know, tell me.)  It seems likely to me that the three, interested in what was going on asked to see what was going on and happened upon someone that was willing to show them.  I have not seen anything else that provides evidence of others with a similar experience, so for now I’ll call them lucky to have had the experience when they did.


**You can bet that I’ll be adding a tour of the Lackawanna Coal Mine to my must-do list (as well as visits to the two museums in the park) when I retrace the path of Dotty, Edie, and Ev.**

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8 Responses to Sightseeing: Coal Mines

  1. Ralph E. Gates " Bud " says:

    Wow!!!!!!!! Fantastic…I am fascinated 🙂

  2. DennyG says:

    “Would you…”
    I have. In 2005 I toured the Pioneer Tunnel mine near Ashville, PA. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a ton… maybe 16 tons.

    “Would you have…”
    Much tougher question. I doubt that most people who weren’t involved with mines or miners would have been eager to go into a mine in those days. I’m sure there is very little comparison between that 1929 tour and my 2005 one. Of course, anyone who set out to cross the country in 1929 certainly had a sense of adventure and any female who did it probably had a double dose. I suspect that your folks took any opportunity that came along to see something different or learn something new. If I’d been around in 1929, it’s unlikely I’d have voluntarily gone underground but Sarah Fisher or Joan Jett probably would have.

    • Hi, Denny, thanks for stopping by! From the research I’ve done, there are a few places in northeast PA that run coal mine tours. I know I’ll end up at Lackawanna Coal Mine since that’s the one in Scranton, but I’ll gladly go to more. Such an interesting history.

  3. Claire says:

    Would I now? A few years ago, I don’t know if I would have, but dating a man who wrote his master’s thesis on copper mines in the UP changes things! 🙂 Mine tours are actually really fascinating, and I would love to tour a coal mine.

    Would I then? That’s very scary to me. My mother’s family is from the Scranton area originally where all of my uncles and grandfathers were coal miners. In fact, my great-grandfather was killed in a mine accident there in 1938. An active coal mine was a very, very dangerous place and I’m not sure I would have been as brave as Dotty & Co. to ask for a tour!

  4. Pingback: Road Trip 1929: Day 4: Sent from Ashtabula, Ohio | Three Months By Car

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