Buck Slope - Main Haulage

Abandoned

The Shamokin, Pennsylvania Glen Burn Colliery

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 main entrances. I believe the Glen Burn was either the largest or second largest deep coal mine in the U.S., having had several "drifts", or tunnels, of which we explored two (only one is pictured here). Though i don't recall for sure, 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.

We ventured primarily along 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 since it was carved through solid rock. Only when we veered off of this level into some of the smaller side passages did we experience some unstable areas.

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 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.

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 at the Glen Burn in the latter years 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.

We entered the mine several times in 1997 from the west side of the colliery where there was a passage which ran under routes 61 and 125, the latter of 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, however 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.

 

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 and hookers, 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 (first image). It also had a stream running in it which was navigable with an inflatable boat apparently (don't ask), though i don't believe i personally ever went down deep enough to see it.

 

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 nearby. It was an outstanding place to explore and quite popular among urban explorers until recently. The St. Nick has either been completely or partially demolished, or may be in the process thereof.

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Comments...

  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.

      1. Dont know if your still reading these post but I have not been on these since I posted my last post years ago. There are two tunnels on the Old Shamokin side. the one you mentioned which has the beams and the one right below the beamed tunnel. Also there is a Mom and pop shaft up near the wash bins on the upper road , just past the old wooden water wheel, this one is horribly unsafe with just make shift Small timbers most of which have either fallen or barly touch the roof of the opening.
        The air shift is up on the mountain on the Treverton side Rt 125. There is an old haul road just as you start up the Hill ( Rt 125 ) to the left of the road, take that up and travel for about 2 miles and you come to the vent shaft. Inside it drops 60 Feet and then a floor level is about 20 feet and then a horrible straight drop to hell.
        I also know of one of the Openings to the St clair mines as well just off Rt 61 near Walmart in St Clair, I was in this one with a friend of mine, plenty of air rushing through the mine so its open. But strange. After about 60 Feet it turned into Tiny Rooms made of brick with tiny pitch mine going on on left but short , not long openings. One room after another but we did not get past the first room cause of Top Rock was lose and it was a giant rock, plus none of the supports were touching the roof of the mine anymore so did not risk it. I know of other openings as well, None safe of course but I know where there are more. Just ask me. David

        1. So i’m guessing the opening off 125 is for the Burn, yes? I’d like to hear more about that.

          The St. Clair mine you mention with the brick rooms sounds very interesting. Let me know if you’d be interested in guiding perhaps a small party if you think it’s a worthwhile expedition :)

  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

    2. Hay Patrick, if your still reading these post then Contact me, I know where there are pretty many openings that are still able to be gotten into but of course none are safe but I know where they are and they are still there as of 2016

      1. Hi Dave – i’m the webmaster for the site.
        Due to changes in comment settings over time, i doubt Patrick will be aware of your comment. If you’d like me to send him your email address, let me know and i’ll be happy to do that. There is also a young fella who is a mine engineer in the area that i think might be interested in talking to you. Let me know if you want me to put you in touch. Also see my reply to your other comment, which is very interesting :)

  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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