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 Post subject: Mining History Week in NEPA
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:39 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:16 pm
Posts: 478
Location: Anthracite Region of PA

By William C. Kashatus, Citizens' Voice correspondent

Published: January 11, 2015

Coal has always been one of the most creative forces in human history. Stone Age people in northeastern China carved jewelry from it some 6,000 years ago. Later, during the Bronze Age (ca. 3000-1000 BC), the inhabitants of early Wales used coal to cremate their dead, believing that it contained a mystical property that would allowed the deceased loved one to be transported to a higher realm. And Roman soldiers who invaded Britain in 27 BC burned the black mineral in their forts to keep warm during the harsh winter seasons.

At the same time, coal has also been one of the most destructive forces in human civilization. It caused the blackened skies and air pollution of the Industrial period. Young children raised in smoke-filled slums were condemned with rickets, a bone-softening disease caused by the abundance of coal black soot. Laborers who entered the coal mines as able-bodied young men emerged a few decades later with the dreaded black-lung disease, a premature death sentence. Even today, the burning of the black fossil fuel has hastened the dangerous warming of our global climate.

Northeastern Pennsylvania, in particular, has been blessed and cursed by coal. It was the most influential force in shaping the history of our region.

The anthracite coal industry once provided abundant employment opportunities as well as the fuel necessary for industrial production and domestic heating. But it also violated a once beautiful region, leaving mountainous black banks of coal refuse and polluting streams and creeks.

It created immense wealth for robber barons, and later organized crime, at the expense of thousands of immigrant laborers who worked as their wage slaves. It cheated breaker boys of their childhood and an education that would have allowed them to make a more meaningful contribution to society.

Not until 1959, when the Susquehanna River basin collapsed, flooding out the empty coal beds in the Northern Field, did the human exploitation come to an end.

These and other historical events will be recalled during “Northeast Pennsylvania’s Mining History Week,” which will take place Jan. 10-24, 2015.

The annual commemoration honors the area’s anthracite mine workers, their families and communities. This year’s observance includes events in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Pittston, Port Griffith, Ashley, Wyoming and Wilkes-Barre Township.

One of the highlights of the week-long event will be a lecture by Professor Robert Wolensky of the University of Wisconsin and local historian William Hastie, authors of “Anthracite Labor Wars: Tenancy, Italians, and Organized Crime in the Northern Coalfield of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 1895-1959.”

Among the other programs to be offered are a public commemoration of the 1959 Knox Mine disaster, a lecture on “Socialist and Communist Labor Organizers in region’s coal fields during the 1930s,” a Boy Scout merit badge ceremony, and a book signing by local authors who have written on the area’s anthracite culture. All programs are free to the public except the Boy Scout merit badge event.

Sponsors for this year’s featured programs are the Anthracite Heritage Museum, Anthracite Heritage Foundation, King’s College, Luzerne County Historical Society, Luzerne County Community College, Wilkes University, Huber Breaker Preservation Society, Greater Pittston Historical Society, Anthracite Living History Group, Old Forge Coal Mine, and Knox Mine Disaster Memorial Committee.

William Kashatus teaches history at Luzerne County Community College. Contact him at For information on Mining History Week, contact Robert Wolensky at 715-252-6742 or

For Further Reading:

Barbara Freese, “Coal: A Human History” (2003)

Mining History Week schedule

Jan. 15, 7 p.m.: Monsignor John J. Curran annual lecture, Professor Walter T. Howard of Bloomsburg University, speaking on “Socialist and Communist Labor Organizers in the Wyoming and Lackawanna Coal Fields during the 1930s;” King’s College, Burke Auditorium, McGowan School of Business; refreshments served at 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 17, 2 p.m.: Knox Mine Disaster Annual Remembrance Program, Anthracite Heritage Museum, McDade Park, Scranton; displays, music, a special tribute to photographers Steven and William Lukasik Sr., and news reporter Jack Scanella; new segments of The Knox Disaster Documentary by David Brocca of Los Angeles, Calif.; commentary by Chester Kulesa, William Lukasik, Jr., and Robert Wolensky; refreshments served.

Jan. 18, 10 a.m.: Knox Mine Disaster memorial service, St. John the Evangelist Church, Pittston.

Jan. 18, 11:30 a.m.: Knox Mine Disaster public commemoration, PHMC historical marker in front of Baloga Funeral Home, Port Griffith; coffee served courtesy of Baloga Funeral Home.

Jan. 20, 6:30 p.m.: Huber Breaker Preservation Society, attorney F. Charles Petrillo of Wilkes-Barre will present and discuss two classic anthracite-related documentary films; Earth Conservancy Building, 101 S. Main St., Ashley; refreshments served.

Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m.: Luzerne County Historical Society, William Hastie and Robert Wolensky will speak on their book, “Anthracite Labor Wars,” Wyoming Presbyterian Church, 454 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming; refreshments served.

Jan. 24, 2 to 4 p.m.: Meet and Hear Local Authors, Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Wilkes-Barre Township; local authors will speak about their books beginning at 2:30 p.m., and meet and greet patrons before and afterward; authors include William Conologue, John Dziak, William Hastie, William Kashatus, Kathleen Munley, Sheldon Spear, Kenneth Wolensky, and Robert Wolensky.

All programs are free to the public except the Boy Scout event.

Scott K
"Watch Your Top"

 Post subject: Re: Mining History Week in NEPA
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:54 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:17 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Central Wisconsin
So the flooding of the mine by the company making the workers dig too close to the bottom of the river ended the large scale mining of anthracite in the US?

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