Throughout many different generations, coal mining served as the heartbeat of several communities across northeastern and central Pennsylvania, especially at Pioneer Tunnel in Ashland.
"This mine was formerly owned and operated by the Philadelphia coal and iron company, and they actually did run it from about 1911 to 1931," tour guide, Joe Kehoe said. "Believe it not, it was shut down for reasons due to the Great Depression, and when they were in business, they employed 35 miners, 10 mules and a handful of young boys. With this limited manpower, these guys were expected to get 400 tons of coal out of here daily."
Recently, this tourist attraction in the coal region of Schuylkill County opened back up to the public because of the pandemic. People can now come here, tour the mines, where workers labored at all hours of the day and night, and learn about an industry that used to help fuel America.
"It's very important to remember the history of the anthracite coal region," Kehoe added. "It is part of the development of the country. If it wasn't for the anthracite coal region, you wouldn't have things like the steel industry. It gave the country the financial status that it developed through the years."
For that reason, this family came from Lancaster County for a tour to educate their grandson.
"The history," Glenda Sensenig of Lancaster County said. "The history itself. They're in a little shell where they live, and they don't get a view of some of the things of how America got where it is."
Tours at Pioneer Tunnel in Ashland are available seven days a week.
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