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The Glen Burn Colliery is an anthracite (hard) coal mine located in Shamokin Pennsylvania, though it is no longer active.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 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.
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.