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 Post subject: Sunday Times December 20,2009 -Anthracite museum
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:13 am 
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After a generation of Northeast Pennsylvanians tried to put their anthracite history behind them, succeeding generations are eager to rediscover it.

More than 100 people came to the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton on Saturday for the day-long commemoration of Coal Miners Day that included a display of artifacts from the anthracite era which transformed the area from wilderness in the early 1800s to a boomtown a century later.

Attendees said they were fascinated with a period they had only heard about.

"This region couldn't wait to forget anthracite and the mines," said Bill Ferri of Moscow. "After years of sweeping it under the rug, now we are looking to sweep it back out."

For many, the pain of labor exploitation, environmental scars and mine workers' injuries, deaths and illnesses have given way to nostalgia.

As Matilda Orechovsky of Old Forge picked up a lump of anthracite from a display table, it rekindled 80-year-old memories of picking coal with her father for the family's cooking and heating. The 7-year-old sneaked out of the house to meet her father in a coal field.

"We picked huckleberries and mushrooms, but I had to be the son he never had to pick coal with him," she said. "Those were such hard times, but I love those times."

Victor Pagnotti is just 24, and while he has a surname long-associated with area mining, the machinist from Old Forge is a distant relative of the mine owners, he said, and his interest in mining evolved independently.

"I'm drawn to that part of our history," he said. "I think it's the hard work that was required to work in the mines."

Mr. Pagnotti is active in www.oldforgecoalmine.com, a clearing house of coal mining history and the force behind the proposed Sparrowville Heritage Park Project in Old Forge. The group had its collection on display at the museum.

The sad, fascinating and inspirational mining history of Northeast Pennsylvania is addicting, those at the commemoration said.

About 60 were on hand to hear local historian and Times-Tribune columnist Cheryl Kashuba read from her book "A Brief History of Scranton, Pennsylvania." At anthracite's peak, the city of Scranton alone had 27 collieries, she said.

The area's underground maze of mines left a legacy to remember as well as physical mementos. Mr. Ferri operates a pizza restaurant in Moscow that displays part of his private collection of anthracite artifacts.

"When I was growing up 'da mines' was one word," said Mr. Ferri, an Old Forge native. "As I got older, I wanted know more about the mines and the role (they) played in the area and for my family."

Contact the writer: dfalchek@timesshamrock.com


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:22 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
Posts: 6906
Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
yea would have been nice to go to that..... was down in allentown at a machine shop my buddy owns working on some airplane parts........ i see carl is keeping things going though :wink:

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