Buck Slope - Main Haulage

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 coal 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 quite popular among urban explorers before it was demolished.

77 thoughts on “Abandoned”

  1. My great-grandfather Mikolay immigrated to Shamokin to work in the Cameron Colliery in 1890 from the Carpathian Mountains. He died of lung disease in 1913. My grandfather followed him into the mines to work, in those days they used mules to carry the coal carts out of the mine. My grandfather Michael Hudock was hit by a runaway coal cart and had many broken bones. Not like medicine today, he walked with a limp the rest of his life.

  2. My father’s name was Adrian Heim. He not only worked at the Glen Burn, but it caved in on him and he was trapped on his Birthday He was suppose to marry my mother the next day.. My mother had no idea if she would be a bride the next day or be planning to bury her fiancee. He was rescued that September night and he married my mother the next day. He continued to work for a few more year, then went moved to Harrisburg to work in a Steel plant, which had a layoff. My mother’s father then got my father into the Rail Road where he worked until he retired. He ended up getting Black Lungs for the years he worked in the mine and adenocarcinoma (cancer from the asbestos from the Rail Road.)

  3. I was born in Treverton in 1934 my family grand paw.dad cousins etc. worked in the mines, I knew very little about the mines until I saw this pdf.
    I remember that Joe Shingara died in the mine he left 9 Children behind
    left Pa. in 1952 and only returned for funerals..
    If able I hope to visit in summer of 2019. guess most of my visit will be in the various
    cemetery .

    1. Thanks for the message. My son is going to Knoebel’s this June. He has a Cameron Colliery Shamokin Pa
      payroll ledger from 1913 which he is going to donate. You might want to visit the mining museum at Knoebels lots of vintage items. Joe

    1. hi Jake
      not to my knowledge it isn’t – last i saw it the roof completely caved in right under 61 and/or 225 – this was roughly 18 years ago though – while i suppose it’s possible this may have settled and thus opened a higher passage, if i recall the void was filled in due to potential road subsidence

      to be clear, we are talking about the entrance right next to 61 maybe 50 yds. after the Cameron bridge headed towards Sunbury, correct?

      1. Just wondering if anyone is interested in a hardcover book from Cameron Colliery Shamokin Pa. payroll ledger from about 1913 . Size is quite large 23 by 18 inches. Shown are names payroll hours etc. Quite heavy. .Would prefer historical preservation group. email jpc313@comcast.net

        1. hi Joe
          Knoebels has a mining museum that might be interested – a lot of the stuff they have is from ‘Mooch’ Kashner who lives somewhere in the coal region – you could check with him too if he’s still living

          mind me asking how you acquired it?

          1. Mr. Kashner Passed away Quite a few Years ago (15?) Great Guy! …. I had the Pleasure of Knowing Him, Great Conversations, He use to stop by “TWO WAY COAL CO.” (6 & 7 Vein above Coal Run/Sagon Area) When I was the Hoister…. and also He lived in the Same Neighborhood as I do…. By the way Mooch (and others) are Memorialized in an outside Wall Mural on the New “Heritage” Restaurant in Shamokin …. And another New Shamokin Restaurant 100 S. Market St has Opened …. “LOST MINeD BREWING COMPANY” …. has a Mine Theme …. Pretty neat!… Check it out!

  4. There is an old mine shaft located on the road to reinhart,if you turn at the light and go towards walmart on the left hand side you will see a yellow post park there because there is a path you cant drive down it.walk down then bear to your left a little when you get down the path then,look straight there are some cinder blocks over towards the right of the cinder blocks is the shaft,there are steps you can walk down to it.i took pics of it onto it say 1943 on it.thisd is in coal township pa

      1. Ok on the road to reinharr,coming from the red light,going up the road on the left hand side there is a post in the ground that has yellow on it,right there is a path you can walk back and you will see a bunch of cinder blocks on the left on the right from them is the mine.i do have photos i can email them to you if i had your address.

      2. Actual road to Reinhart coming from excelsior you would turn at the red light the yellow post is on the left hand side,there is a road or path whatever you want to call it,once you walk back you will see a pile of cinder blocks right over from them on your right is the mine

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