The Alden Colliery (Alden Coal Company) was owned by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad and located at the base of Alden Mountain. They also owned the Auchincloss, the Bliss, and the Truesdale breakers.
The Alexander Gray Breaker was located in Wilkes-Barre Township near the point where Coal Street would intersect the Nanticoke Branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. It was erected in 1860 and razed in 1874, fourteen years later.
The Auchincloss Coal Breaker was built in 1895 by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. It was located on the opposite side of Prospect Street from the present LCCC. It was the first anthracite breaker in the world to be entirely operated by electricity. In 1904 a cage carrying 10 men at the #2 shaft descended so fast that it hit an obstruction and disintegrated, dropping the miners to their deaths about 400 feet below into 200 feet of water at the bottom of a 1700 foot deep shaft. The Auchincloss closed in 1919 when its production was transferred to the Loomis for processing.
Plymouth was settled between the Susquehanna River and the Shawnee Mountain Range. As early as 1850, coal mining was the town’s primary occupation.The Avondale Breaker was built in Plymouth in 1867. August 22 was the first day the mine operated and by May 6, 1868, regular coal shipments had begun. It was a breaker-over-mine construction, convenient for processing coal, but disastrous if there was a mine fire. On September 6, 1869, 110 men and boys lost their lives in the Avondale Disaster. It was declared at the time that a ventilating furnace in the mines caught fire and spread to the breaker. But there is much historical evidence that the disaster was an act of arson connected to a labor strike. It was the worst single disaster in our area’s coal mining history. By spring of 1870, a new breaker had been constructed and regular work had resumed. In 1905 there were major modifications to the breaker. It was operated by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad.
Baltimore Breaker No. 5
The Baltimore Mine was first utilized for profit by Lord Butler in 1814 (which is only 36 years after the Wyoming Massacre!) The mine was sold to a Mr. Thomas Simington and others from Baltimore in 1829 and reorganized as the Baltimore Coal Company. In 1836 it became the site of the first gravity railroad in the Valley designed by Alexander Gray to take coal from the mine to the new canal. In 1854 the Baltimore Breaker site was the first construction of a breaker in Wyoming Valley. It was built by the Baltimore Coal Co., and the seam of coal they worked is designated as the Baltimore Seam throughout Wyoming Valley. The first shipment of coal was made by the old canal from the boat sheds near East Market Street. The breaker was located about half a mile east of the boat sheds and here the first locomotive in Wyoming Valley was used to haul cars back and forth. In 1867 the colliery was purchased by the Delaware and Hudson Coal Company.
The breaker construction began in 1880 but work was not completed until the spring of 1881. The new breaker was 80 feet high and had a production capacity of 1,000-1,200 tons per day. In 1892 the breaker burned after a fire originating in the pump house enveloped the shaft tower and then spread along the connecting trestle to the breaker itself. After the fire, coal from that mine was taken to the Bunker Hill Breaker in Dunmore until the Barnum was rebuilt in 1893.
Construction of this breaker was begun in 1854 and completed in May 1856. It was operated by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad.
The first Black Diamond breaker was built in 1854 and destroyed by fire around 1897. It was operated by John C. Haddock, who had previously been a wholesale coal merchant in New York City. The Haddock Coal Company also operated the Dodson Breaker in Plymouth.
The Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad built the Bliss coal breaker in 1895 in the Hanover section of Nanticoke. The 1902 the Bureau of Mine Reports read “considerable improvements have been made to this breaker including the installation of mechanical pockets, etc, to facilitate the handling and cleaning of coal.” In 1950 a rock and earth slide at the colliery took two lives. The Bliss closed in 1953 after processing about 730,000 tons of coal each year.
Mine construction began in November of 1871. It was named for John Brisbin, a teacher in upstate New York who accepted a position with the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad in 1855. The breaker was located west of the Cayuga breaker, and operated until 1919 when it was dismantled. Coal from the Brisbin mine was then sent to the Diamond breaker. Operated by the D, L, & W., the mine shaft’s total depth was 520 feet down to the Clark vein.
Pittston (Pittstown) was one of the 5 original townships formed under Connecticut back in 1768 and settled by Connecticut Yankees prior to the Battle of Wyoming. About 1835-1838 John and Lord Butler opened the Butler Mine with their brother-in-law, Judge Mallory of Philadelphia, as a partner. The first coal was sent to market by canal about 1840. The Butler breaker was located in the area of the present Pittston Plaza. The infamous Butler Mine Tunnel was constructed in the 1930s to provide mine drainage for an estimated 5 square mile area of underground coal mines. The contamination was caused by the illegal disposal of liquid industrial wastes including oily waste into the underground mine via a mine ventilation borehole located at Highway Auto Service in Pittston. In 1979 a large oil slick formed on the Susquehanna from the illegal dumping. The borehole is approximately 3 ½ miles from the outlet of the Butler Mine Tunnel.
Located in the Buttonwood Section of Hanover Township, it was a Wyoming Valley landmark since the 1870s. Built by the former Parrish Coal Co, it was taken over in 1913 by the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Co. which later merged with Glen Alden. It had a daily capacity of 2,500 tons of prepared anthracite. When Buttonwood closed, the coal was sent to the new Maxwell breaker, which could prepare 1,000 tons of coal per hour. Arguably, its most famous employee was Michael Fugmann, a German soldier in World War I who had immigrated to the United States in 1924. He was charged and convicted of the Good Friday mail-bombings that killed Thomas Maloney, former president of the United Anthracite Mine Workers, his 4-year old son Thomas Jr., and severely injured his 16-year-old daughter, Margaret. Also killed was Michael Gallagher, a school director. Fugmann walked unassisted to the electric chair as he kept repeating his innocence in broken English. There are many today who believe he was telling the truth. The mystery remains unsolved.
This area of northeastern Pennsylvania was the heartland for the Susquehannock tribe of the Conestogas, the Iroquoian nation, and the rival Lenape (Delaware) tribe. By 1670, after three years of a plague, 90% of the Susquehannocks had died. Zebulon Marcy settled at the southern end of what would become known as Duryea, on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna and Lackawanna Rivers, which today is part of the Greater Pittston Area of Luzerne County. Hiram Duryea was a Civil War General, coal operator, and officer in the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. The town was named after the railroad station. Incorporated in 1901, Duryea boasted three large collieries and thriving coal mining and silk manufacturing industries. The breaker was owned by the Pennsylvania Coal Company.
Central Breaker c. 1870
In 1868 construction work at the shaft began. On October 22, 1870, the first shipment of coal left the breaker. This mine produced more coal than any of the company’s other mines from 1872-88. At 5:00 AM on July 24, 1889, there was an extensive cave-in and eruption of firedamp. It was discovered that pillars had been robbed in a three-block neighborhood. Large new hoisting engines had been installed to increase output even further, but on August 19 and 20, 1890, the breaker was destroyed by a disastrous fire. It was never rebuilt. Coal from this mine shaft was then prepared at the Hampton and Sloan Breakers. The Central was owned by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad.
The Chauncey was owned by George F. Lee and probably named after Chauncy Reynolds of Plymouth who worked the site as early as 1831. From 1861-1866 it was called the Union Mine. Lee purchased the Chauncey in 1902. In 1911 a 15 year old breaker boy named Dennis McKee, was smothered to death and another 15 year old, Arthur Albecker, had both legs severely injured. Both boys went too close to the chutes and fell in. The breaker was destroyed by fire in 1923.
In 1885, a fire destroyed the first breaker. By 1886, a new breaker was built using the most advanced tools and techniques used in coal preparation. The Clifford Mines Colliery served as a model for the entire coal industry in the anthracite region.
This was the largest and most prominent coal processing facility since it was located right next to the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Yard and was owned by the Delaware and Hudson Coal Company.
The Coaldale was known as the “Jewel City of the Anthracite Coal Fields.” The #1 breaker was built over the state highway. The #8 mine was the deepest in the area, about 800 feet. The #10 mine and breaker were in the western part of Coaldale. The #11 mine and breaker were in the same general area.
Coleraine Colliery B
Just as the famous Huber Breaker was called the Ashley Breaker for where it was located, the Coleraine Colliery was also called the Junedale breaker for its location. Located in Carbon County just south of Junedale, it was owned in the 1800s by William Carter. It operated for 88 years and had its own waterworks, its own store, and connections to ship coal by three railroads: the Jersey Central, the Reading, and the Lehigh Valley.
About 50 miles west of Wyoming Valley in Sullivan County lies an area of semi-anthracite coal. This coal is an intermediary coal between anthracite and bituminous which is mined in the area of Bernice, Mildred, and Lopez. The Connell Breaker was built by Kingsley and Wescott about 1885. It was served by the State Line and Sullivan Railroad. It was active until 1964. The area was strip mined until 1969.
Council Ridge Breaker
In 1854, Sharpe, Weiss, and Company leased land from the Tench Coxe Estate and began work on the Council Ridge Colliery and the Village of Eckley, which, by 1870, was home to approximately 1,500 people. After 1874, the Sharpe and Weiss lease expired. The Coxes either operated the colliery themselves or leased it (and Eckley, the Miners Village), to other coal companies. By 1890, strip mining had overtaken the underground mining in importance and production. In 1963, the Coxe Brothers went out of business and sold everything to George Huss. Huss deeded Eckley to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1969. By 1970, only 100 inhabitants remained in the area. Louis Beltrami acquired the land around Eckley and continued to mine coal. A few full-time year-round residents still reside in the coal patch at Eckley which is considered a historic site.
97 men and boys worked underground while 85 more worked on the surface. The Cranberry Breaker was operated by Ario Pardee and Company. Ario Pardee founded the city of Hazleton and his company controlled over 21 breakers in the Hazleton Area. The firm of Ario Pardee was the largest individual shipper of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania and he was considered to be the king of the coal barons of the mid to late 1800s. He died in 1892, one of Pennsylvania’s millionaire elite. His son, Ario Pardee Jr, who was involved in running the coal mines, was a Union officer during the Civil War. At the Battle of Gettysburg he led the defense of a portion of Culp’s Hill on July 3, 1863. A monument on the Gettysburg Battlefield commemorates “Pardee’s Field.”
The Delaware breaker was owned by the Delaware and Hudson Coal Company. Sheriff James Martin, a Luzerne County sheriff, had been a foreman at the Delaware. During the Lattimer Massacre of 1897, he was called home from his vacation in Atlantic City to help deal with the crisis. The Delaware Colliery was acquired by Glen Alden in the 1960s.