Have You Ever Been Down Inside a Coal Mine?
Destination – Scranton PA
Spending a week in Scranton at my son’s house is definitely a unique experience. Especially since he’s not even here! What kind of visit is this? LOL
In preparation for our week’s cruise to Bermuda (a working trip for me), I flew to Scranton early not realizing Tom had to spend three days at Chapman Lake with the U of Scranton music students. Left to my own devices, and having already explored all of his closets, I turned to writing about this unique city.
This is a coal mining region! History: Scranton is located in the heart of one of the great deposits of anthracite coal in the world, which provided the underpinnings for much of Scranton’s industrial growth until the middle of the 20th century. When the Scranton brothers arrived in 1840, they found only five houses in the village. The Scrantons built a forge which became the nucleus of the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company. When the railroad arrived in 1853, it provided an outlet for the iron industry and coal mines. The population rose to 9,000 by 1860.
Have you ever been inside a coal mine? Take the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour! It will OPEN your eyes to what our forefathers did in shaping our country…and will scare you silly. You are seated in a tram car that descends backwards into the mine as you watch the sky slowly disappear. My eyes were glued to the rope (I hoped it was a steel rope!) as it rubbed against a corner during our descent. Please don’t let that rope snap!!! At 300’ below the surface, we got out of the tram and stood beneath the wooden trusses. I breathed a sigh of relief feeling “safe“ for the moment, only to hear the tour guide tell us the trusses did not support the walls and/or ceiling at all. RATHER, if you hear the trusses creaking, it means GET OUT because the mine is collapsing! The guide turns out the artificial lighting and we are plunged into complete and total blackness. Naturally, at this point my son slowly ground his foot onto the mine floor and everyone jumped out of their skin! Lights back on, we proceed to a door in the mine. The guide told us that little children also worked in the mines! Perhaps the “little nipper” as he was called was four years old as he sat in the darkness listening for the sounds of the mules approaching. His job was to open the door as they pulled the cart full of coal. The nipper had a tin bucket with a lid next to him; this was his lunchbox. The lid was to keep the rats from eating his lunch! Dear God, get me out of this mine! A wonderful museum is also part of the Lackawanna Mine experience.
Speaking of museums, the Steamtown National Historic Site is also in Scranton! The “museum” houses tons of locomotives, literally! The 64 acre site is built around a working turntable and roundhouse built as a replica of the original DL&W facilities; the roundhouse, for example, was reconstructed from remnants of a 1932 structure. If you’re interested at all in trains, take your grandkids to tour this fabulous museum.
Scranton has some absolutely beautiful architecture and a walk around town demands your camera be at the ready!
Oh, by the way, the hit TV show, The Office, is set in Scranton and many of the scenes were filmed on the main street of town. Many of the locals got to be extras in the scenes! Exciting! If you’re in the area, Scranton is well worth some time to explore our history.