Tuesday, August 13, 2013

When Coal was King in Scranton, PA

Scranton was a booming coal town at the turn of the 20th century. During a recent stay, we toured the Lackawanna Coal Mine and Anthracite Museum located in McDade Park. While there, we rode a coal car down into the bowels of the mine and listened to a tour guide give us details of a miner's work life. During the tour and at the museum, we learned that, at one time, children as young as 6 years old worked above ground and those as young as 12 were allowed to work below ground. We watched a video and saw various paraphanalia from the everyday lives of coal miners and their families, most of whom were recent immigrants from Europe.

The coal car used to transport visitors down into the mine
The conveyor inside the mine
In front of the Lackawanna Coal Tipple.

With all that coal near at hand, Scranton became a major hub for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The Scranton railroad yard is now part of the Steamtown National Historic Site as is an impressive collection of locamotives, passenger, freight, and maintenance-of-way cars. The round house has been transformed into a very informative museum and interpretive center. An inexpensive 30 minute train ride is available that leaves the roundhouse and criss crosses the trail yard. My 5 and 6 year olds kids really enjoyed it as did I. We all learned a lot about this important piece of industrial history. My oldest was really able to connect the importance of the coal miner in producing the coal for the the steam engines. And Steamtown did a great job of showing how important the steam train was to America.

Roundhouse interior

A mail car
One of those maintenance-of-way cars: snowblower
Scranton railroad yard with the roundhouse in the background
A Union Pacific Big Boy!

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