Buck Slope - Main Haulage

Abandoned

The Shamokin, Pennsylvania Glen Burn Colliery

The Glen Burn Colliery is an anthracite (hard) coal mine located in Shamokin Pennsylvania, though it is no longer active. Most or all of the buildings have been torn down, but of course the mine shafts still exists. I believe it was either the largest or second largest deep coal mine in the U.S., having had several “drifts”, or tunnels, of which we explored 2 (only one is pictured here). Though i don’t recall for sure, i believe this would be the West Drift.

We stayed on the main haulage level – the level from which all other levels propagate – during our exploration. Main haulage runs from Shamokin to Trevorton, a distance of about 6 miles, and is nearly perfectly level and very easily traveled (i know of a couple people who drove 4-wheelers through it). We penetrated probably about a mile and a half of that distance, the majority which was very stable and safe as it was dug through solid rock. Only when we veered off of this level into some of the smaller horizontal side passages did things become less stable.

The stories conflict even among those that worked here as to how many levels there are, but there are 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’s difficult to describe the very eerie feeling i had being underground in a mine and looking into the utter blackness of the water which filled the lower levels.

If the story is true, a rather large dinosaur fossil was found in the lower levels and Penn State University was involved in the study and preservation of it. I was also told by someone who worked here in the latter years that there are rooms which were hidden from the mining inspectors, one of which was described to be so large you could turn a tractor-trailer around in it without backing up.

We entered the mine several times in 1997 from the west side of the colliery where there is, or was at the time, a passage which passes under route 125 which is the road from Shamokin to Trevorton. During our last trip, which was probably in 97 or 98, the tunnel under the roadway had collapsed. At the time there appeared to be a possible, though very small opening through the debris. Entering it would have been extremely dangerous however. There are many other entrances to the Glen Burn mine, though i cannot provide any details as we did not explorer them.

The Glen Burn Colliery in Shamokin, Pa.
The Glen Burn Colliery in its prime

Glen Burn Miners
One of the mining crews. I believe the ‘Burn’ was in operation 24 hours at one point.

Glen Burn Dinky House
This structure, the ‘dinky house’ sits atop the slag heap at the Glen Burn. Buggies of waste (high ash coal and rock) were hauled up to this point and then dumped to form the largest man-made mountain in the world.

Glen Burn Colliery Overview
In the background we can can see the rail tracks leading up the mountain to the dinky house.

Glen Burn Mine Entrance
Inside the west drift main haulage tunnel.

Glen Burn Fallout Shelter
Not widely known, the Glen Burn was apparently a fallout shelter during the cold war. These are tins of crackers, but there were also mounds of toilet paper and medicine for diarrhea.

Glen Burn Fallout Shelter 2
These are steel containers lined with plastic that were to be filled with water. Strangely, it appears that they were never filled.

Glen Burn Waterfall
This is water spilling down from the west drift main haulage to the levels below.

Glen Burn Mineral Formations
Mineral formations very similar to this are often found in naturally formed caves, though they can take millions of years to grow. These formations have taken only decades to form.

Glen Burn Lower Level Hoist
This is a hoist inside the mine used to pull buggies loaded with coal and rock up from the lower levels.

Glen Burn Electrical Equipment
Some old electrical equipment.

Glen Burn Dynamite
Leftover dynamite from the last crew to work in the mine. The nitroglycerin appeared to be leaking out of it, possibly making it very unstable. The thought that my camera flash might cause it to explode actually crossed my mind.

The Buck Slope Coal Mine

Another deep anthracite coal mine not far from the Glen Burn is Buck Slope, 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. Today it is virtually abandoned.

This is one of the more unstable mines i had the “pleasure” to explore and i highly doubt it 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 (don’t ask), though i don’t believe i personally ever went down deep enough to see it.

Buck Slope Main Haulage
This near white rock was an interesting feature of this mine. We thought it may be limestone, but it was difficult to determine for sure.

Buck Slope Mule Stable Entrance
Mules were used inside the mine to haul out the coal and rock. They were kept underground and, from what i was told, may never have seen the light of day in some cases. This is the entrance to the mule stable. There was also a small ‘hospital’ of sorts and a lunch room which we ever found.

Interior of the Buck Slope Mule Stable
This is the interior of the mule stable showing the stalls. In the background is cribbing that was used to support the collapsing ceiling.

Buck Slope Mule Stable 2
Another view of the interior of the mule stable.

Buck Slope Mule Stable 3
This is a feed trough for the mules, now filled with coal and rock dust.

Buck Slope Escape-Way
This may be an escape-way; a tunnel which parallels the main shaft and is used in an emergency if the main tunnel should become impassible for some reason. The ceiling here was very smooth and bluish in color.

Saint Nicholas Coal Breaker, Mahanoy City, Pa

The Saint Nick breaker was used for processing anthracite coal mined nearby. Today it sits abandoned and is easily accessible by those with a desire to explore.

St. Nicholas Breaker Overview
Overview of the Saint Nicholas coal breaker

St. Nicholas Breaker Exterior
The sun on her face, she still shines

St. Nicholas Breaker Gear
Large gear

St. Nicholas Breaker Machine Shop
The machine shop

St. Nicholas Breaker Conveyor
Main conveyor used for moving material into the plant for processing

St. Nicholas Breaker Changing Room
Changing room were employees changed their duds

 

     

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15 thoughts on “Abandoned”

  1. Lived in Shamokin 1930 birth till 1942, moved to Balto. Md. WAR. Now living Hanover PA. Any info about Shamokin and or mines would be appreciated.

    Hate to stop at this point but don’t want to blow your invite to me.

    Lived at 13 N Anthracite St. Shamokin Pa.

    Dave

    1. Hi Dave – i removed your ph. # to protect your privacy – wasn’t sure if you wanted that to be public.

      I no longer live in Shamokin, but we did do quite a bit of exploring in the area. There are many abandonment’s in the area and many of them are mines. I would like to get back into the Glen Burn, and i did make an inquiry about that recently, but it doesn’t look good. I know the entrance we used is collapsed.

      What kind of information are you looking for?

      1. Good luck, I basically live on those mountains and the one entrance at about the middle of the mountain, behind an old building is collapsed about 20 feet back. I cannot find any entrances to any mines around here, if there are even any left. If so let me know.

        1. Hi Jason

          That whole area is so littered with mines you have to watch where you step when you’re hiking around :)

          While many have been blocked or have collapsed or are flooded, i’m sure many are still accessible. Living to tell about your experience is another story. Finding them shouldn’t be too difficult, though i only remember the locations of about 3 that we entered (one was the Burn). Ask around and i’m sure you’ll turn up results.

  2. Nice pictures. I can’t help you with any information about the middle or southern coal fields having grown up in the Wyoming Valley. I can give you some information about anthracite mines in Plains Twp. I explored a few as recently as April 2013. Safety gear (hard hats, oxygen detector…) are a must. I found many openings that my friends and I would not go in due to unstable top rock.

  3. The Glen Burn Main entrance is blocked with two cave in’s, the first you can get around but the second as far as I could see was a total cave in. Now on top of the mountain on the Rt 125 side where the tunnels extend to is a vent house and that is open but of course very deadly going into a mine in this manor. Also on the shamokin side of the mountain where the giant coal pile is and where the collier was is a very old Mine extrence to this mine in its very early 19th century days, it is filled in but can be entered with some hard work. Also above this is a bootleg mine opening also horribly unsafe for it uses tiny supports of which most are Not touching the roof anymore but if your crazy then this is for sure a way into the oldest part of this mine. Just please be so careful for this mines are deadly to enter after well over 160 years of use, flooding and what have you. My years of being underground are over and for good reason, anyone want to know just ask me why. Take care. David

    1. Hi Dave,
      Great pictures, especially the dynamite. Thank you for sharing. I used to live in Girardville and Centralia; moved south back in ’79. I roamed all around the hills of Girardville, Big Mine Run, Centralia and Mt Carmel when I was a kid but never ventured underground. Glad I’m not living there as an adult, because I’d probably be tempted to explore.

      Jerry

    2. I am curious Dave, I just found this website, I live on Bunker Hill in Shamokin and have explored the Glen Burn numerous times. I know of the entrance in the middle odf the mtn, where some of the old buildings still sit today, right behind one of those buildings it has beams pressed against the roof on an angle, but it collapsed not too far in. It looks like an old dam right over from it, possibly where they washed the coal. No wwhere is this entrance to the old vent house by 125. I want to see this for myself. Last one I went down was up behind the ballfields, you can still acces this one just off from the ple line road, it actually burns on that side of the road now, and it smelled down in that hole years ago, not safe. Where is the old mine entrance on the Shamokin side you are talking about, or is that the one I spoke of that has those beams? I am looking for a good hole to climb down, but the only holes I find are air vents that drop very deep and sudden, you would need to rappel down, something I do not know, give me some ideas cause timwe is running out on almost all the mines around here anymore.

  4. I would be interested in finding more about where to go hiking and exploring. As it gets warmer i would like to start taking hikes and getting to see more before this history disapears from the landscape. I have hiked a bunch before in centralia and am always looking to find more.

    1. for sure, this history is disappearing – i would say that most of the sites are either gone or largely destroyed, however there are some still left

      the St. Nick breaker, which has survived largely untouched until very recently, is apparently being demolished as well – it was a great site to visit and may still be, but you will need to be a bit stealthy as people have occasionally been questioned and possibly charged with trespassing

      as far as other sites, finding them is not difficult – check out these resources…

      http://www.offroaders.com/album/centralia/centralia.htm
      http://www.undergroundminers.com/
      http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/digital/minemaps.html

      and if you’re into urban exploration in general, you will want to visit UER…
      http://www.uer.ca/

      if you find anything interesting, please let me know – maybe we can hook up :)

      stay safe

  5. My grandfather spent his childhood in Shamokin, actually up until his time in the Navy. That was right around the time of the Bay of Pigs, which he was involved in. His father worked the mines until his death. We were reminiscing a bit, looking over Shamokin on Google Maps, etc. when we ran across this page. Thanks for capturing a little bit of history for us to look back on.

  6. Thaks for posting the photos and the write up from 97. I live out of state but I had three generations who worked the Shamokin pits from 1865 to 1940’s. Two of the three are buried there. I can’t even begin to imagine the working conditions in the 1860’s/70’s and later. My grandfather started about 1902 or so but by 1912 had had his fill and moved on. Last generation to work in Shamokin worked for I believe Stevens Coal Co. I had a guy take me out there about 1985 or maybe 1987 – there were some old buildings and train tracks left. I’m trying to write down some things about these people but they were so poor and got burned out a couple times there’s nothing left of the family history. My grandmother had an old family Bible but the ink was all faded and after an uncle died it disappeared, as usual. Thanks again !!! If anyone has some recommended reading about mine conditions, history, etc. from these times in Shamokin could you let me know.

  7. I am writing a book and it involves a kidnapper taking a woman into an abandoned coal mine (I was thinking Shamokin, but any mine up there would work). My question to you guys is do you know if there would be any kind of parking area near a mine, or would there be quite a bit of hiking to get to it.

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