Buck Slope - Main Haulage

Abandoned

The Cameron/Glen Burn Colliery, Shamokin, Pa.

The Glen Burn mine, also known as the Cameron Colliery, was an anthracite (hard) coal mine located in Shamokin Pennsylvania. Most or all of the buildings have been torn down and although the mine shafts still exist, they are no longer accessible from their primary entrances. Although i am getting older and less willing to take risks, the Glen Burn is the one mine that keeps calling me back. I would love to explorer it once more, this time with an emphasis on photography.

I believe the Glen Burn was either the largest or second largest deep coal mine in the U.S., having had many levels and tunnels of which we explored two (only one is pictured here). Though i don’t recall for certain, i believe this would have been the the west drift, the entrance of which was gated and located right next to route 61 just north of the Cameron bridge. This tunnel ran under routes 61 and 125, the latter of which is the road from Shamokin to Trevorton, and split into two, one leg of which made its way under Shamokin/Coal Township while the other made its way toward the town of Trevorton, six miles away.

The Glen Burn culm bank, which is the largest man-made mountain in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records, stretches about 1.5 miles in length along the north edge of Shamokin. This enormous pile of rock and coal fines is the result of the material that was removed to create the mine tunnels. More recently the bank was in the process of being reclaimed for burning in coal powered electric generating plants, though i do not know if this is still the case.

We ventured primarily along the first mile and a half of the main haulage level going toward Trevorton during our exploration. Main haulage is the level from which all other levels propagate and through which the rock and coal were transported out of the mine. To my knowledge, main haulage runs the full six miles from Shamokin to Trevorton and is nearly perfectly level, sloping imperceptibly toward the entrance to facilitate water drainage. The tunnel is very easily traveled and quite stable since it was bored through solid rock, the only obstacles being large piles of fine coal which trickled down the many chutes onto the floor of the main haulage tunnel. Only when we ventured off of this level into some of the smaller side passages did we experience unstable areas.

While the stories seem to conflict, even among those that worked at the Glen Burn, as to the total number of levels, there are certainly several levels below main haulage on the Shamokin side and several above on the Trevorton side. The lower levels are flooded almost up to the main haulage level. It is difficult to describe the very eerie feeling i had being underground and looking into the utter blackness of the water which consumed the lower levels.

I was told by someone who worked at the Glen Burn after it was briefly reopened on a small scale in the late 1980’s or 1990’s, that there are rooms which were kept hidden from the mining inspectors, one of which was described as being so large you could turn a tractor-trailer around in it without backing up.

Some of the more interesting features we discovered were several sticks of dynamite in a plastic bag, obviously from when the mine was reopened briefly, and large piles of empty water cans, toilet paper, medicine to treat diarrhea and tins of crackers which were being consumed by rodents. The Glen Burn mine was apparently a designated fallout shelter during the cold war and we had discovered a cache of supplies, though this was the only evidence of a fallout shelter we were able to find. I was also told that a rather large dinosaur fossil was found in one of the now flooded lower levels and that Penn State University was involved in the study and preservation of it.

We explored the west drift of the mine several times in 1997. During our last trip, which was probably in 97 or 98, we were disappointed to discover that the tunnel under routes 61 and 125 had collapsed. Though there appeared to be a very small opening through the debris, entering it would have been extremely dangerous. There are likely many other entrances to the Glen Burn mine, though i cannot provide any details as we did not explorer them.

Following are some statistics for the Cameron Colliery/Glen Burn mine:

  • Shamokin’s Lower Gap mining began in 1836 with the first colliery built in 1857
  • Renamed to Cameron Colliery in 1864
  • Renamed to Glen Burn Colliery in 1940
  • Destroyed by fire in 1888, rebuilt in 1890
  • The mine was operated almost continuously for 134 years from 1836-7 to 1970
  • The largest number of people employed was 1,420 in 1899
  • Peak annual production was 627,158 tons in 1942
  • A total of 33,353,000 tons of coal was mined
  • There were 217 fatalities
  • The unusable rock and coal fines created the worlds largest man-made mountain
  • Major mining operations ended in 1970, though it would be briefly reopened on a small scale after this time
  • The buildings were demolished in 2000
  • Owners included the Susquehanna Coal Company and Kerris and Helfrick

 

The Buck Slope Coal Mine

Another deep anthracite coal mine not far from the Glen Burn is the Buck Slope mine, located near Upper Excelsior, Pennsylvania. Apparently, like many small coal towns of the day, Excelsior used to be a rather hopping place, complete with a movie theater and prostitutes, one of which apparently used to walk along the road to attract clients. Today Upper Excelsior is virtually abandoned.

The Buck Slope mine is one of the more unstable mines i had the pleasure to explore and i highly doubt it would still be accessible today. It had some interesting features however which i didn’t expect to find in a coal mine, such as near white rock in one area. It also had a stream running in it which was navigable with an inflatable boat apparently (don’t ask).

 

Saint Nicholas Coal Breaker, Mahanoy City, Pa.

The Saint Nickolas coal breaker, known simply as the St. Nick, was used for processing anthracite coal which was mined in the region. It was an outstanding place to explore and quite popular among urban explorers until recently as it is in the process of being demolished.

56 thoughts on “Abandoned

  1. I was going through some old belongings and came across a pencil and a piece of coal that I obtained from the Glen Burn Mine that I took a tour of in the 70’s. I recall parts of it were flooded back then. Sorry to read not much is left of it.

  2. Are there still accessible mines in the Mount Carmel-Shamokin areas? When I lived in Wilberton # 1, you could walk through the woods to what we called the “slush bank.” it was made up of very fine sand-like slate. All the trees were dead, and the “slush bank” was at least a mile long. When it would rain a lot, it would almost become a liquid. There was an open mine not far from there, with water constantly flowing out.

    1. Are there still accessible mines in the Mount Carmel-Shamokin areas?

      well, the short answer is yes, almost certainly, but you’d have to talk to the locals to find them

      if you’re thinking of exploring, please be careful – there’s a number of things in mines just waiting to kill you :)

        1. sorry to hear that – there’s two other incidents i remember; one when some kids drove out on the ice over the ‘mile’ by Trevorton in the winter – thought they were on land when the ice broke and down they went – the other was when 6 kids, 3 couples as i recall, drove an SUV into an air shaft that had water at the bottom and i believe they drowned

          exploring abandoned mines can be a lot of fun though, particularly the Glen Burn which is relevantly safe, but i’ve been unable to locate any other entrances since the one under 61 collapsed (near the Cameron bridge)

        2. I remember when that happened. Very sorry for your loss. My parents and grand parents were from Shamokin. They took me up there to the shaft after it happened. They want to scare me into not ever going in or around a shaft. It worked. 60 some years later i still remember your cousins name.

      1. There is an active mine just south of Mt. Carmel, off of Rt. 61, heading toward Centralia. I don’t recall the name of the company that operates this business. The mine shaft goes directly into the side of the mountain. I recall a fatality there about three or four years ago. You can purchase processed coal directly from this business. Perhaps they would allow you to inspect the entrance and view their operations…but because of insurance reasons, I don’t think they would permit you to enter deep into the mine.

        1. is that a long-wall mine? i know of a mine on the right side of the highway outside of Mt. Carmel headed toward Centralia that is possibly the only long-wall mine in the region (the seam runs fairly level apparently) – i didn’t know it was still operating though

    2. Cindi they closed down that mine. It was narrowed down to a low tunnel and had ditched with pipes to direct the water flow. The spot were we used to swim and ice skating is dryed up. It’s been maybe 15 years since I been there. Took some of my kids and was disappointed not to be able to show them the mine.

      1. Thanks Darlene! I remember all the water that poured out of that mine, into a pond. I looked on Google Earth and the slush bank is still there. There were two small ponds on the far side of it. One had fish in it, the other had dark water in it and no fish. I recall once walking the length of the slush bank, but don’t remember finding the end of it. Didn’t the lokie road eventually get to Wilburton #2?

  3. Does anyone know the name of the breaker/mine that was below Raspberry Hill at Rock Street. For many years there was a wood framework of an old building left standing from some earlier-time but, no one seems to know what the name was.

    1. i have no idea – i just searched Google for B&W pix of Rock Street as well as did a text search and didn’t find anything – apparently there is/was creek there, Coal Run Creek – possibly the mine/breaker you’re referring to is named similarly

      1. I googled Dancott and this is what showed up. You can’t get into the story though. A friend that lived at the end of Rock told me it was called the Dancott but I never knew the name, but have been up in the area and seen coal or remnants of coal. Have you never heard of the Dancott?

        Shamokin News-Dispatch from Shamokin, Pennsylvania · Page 3
        https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/96891312/ The Dancott Coal Company operating a breaker at the southern end of Rock Street, worked the greatest number of days, 279, during last year. Trevorton breaker …

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