Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ashland / Pioneer Coal Mine

Pioneer Coal Mine Tunnel Tour
Ashland, Pennsylvania

In this episode, we are heading to northern Pennsylvania to coal territory, land of the roots of my wife's family. My wife's grandmother lived her whole life in Ashland in the north central part of the state. Ashland was one of many small towns known as the patches, that dotted the landscape along the coal seams that brought a way of life and defined the region.

Danny's Drive Inn Lunch

First, we stopped for lunch at a famous local hot spot since... well, since forever. Danny's Drive Inn diner was the local hang out where my wife's parents dated and you can still get the famous burgers and fresh cut french fries that made it a Saturday night must back in the day. The kids were a little confused, looking for the drive through window where you order by number and the scary plastic clown that they normally identify with burgers & fries. We sat on the original round stools at the counter and devoured the famous fare, as countless patrons before us. The kids were impressed because you just can't get this great tasting food and atmosphere in the commercial dominated fast food world back home. Sorry if this made you hungry!

Entrance to the Mine

Now on to the tour, a .75 mile ride straight into the mountain on the original mine train and track that once carried the workers to the veins of black gold. I was a little worried about Katelyn, because underground adventures that are dark and damp just aren't her scene. Tyler was game and with his help we encouraged her on into the darkness. The rail ride was loud and creepy with cold water seepage dripping throughout the long passage through the solid rock tunnel. The temperature inside the mine is always a constant 52 degrees cold year round!

Two Modern Day Miners
The tour guide guy was great and did an excellent job explaining the history of the mine and the difficult and dangerous process the workers endured on a daily grind to make a meager living. Deep inside the mountain, we were able to get out and take a walking tour through several twisting and turning mine shafts. Katelyn's expression resembled what she usually looks like while visiting the dentist's office but on the inside, she retained a brave mind set. Even after they turned out all the lights, an anticipated action on any underground tour, she took it in stride.

Deep into the Mine Tunnel
Well, we all made it back up to the surface but failed to bring out any mined coal. However, we all did come away with a great appreciation of how hard the people of the coal region worked to help fuel the industrial age of America. They sacrificed their health and risked their lives to provide for their families. Coal is no longer king in the region and many towns are economically depressed as a result. Today they are seeking something again, a rebirth in new markets that can return prosperity once more to the people of the patches of north central Pennsylvania.

Air Shaft / Emergency Exit
Thanks for tuning in... See you next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Total Pageviews