Restored Mine Cars Should Be Ready For Miners’ Park This Year
This could be the Year of the Mine Cars at the Anthracite Miners’ Memorial Park in Ashley.
Two mine cars once used to transport anthracite at local collieries are being restored and the plan is to get both on site in 2018.
Don Kane, of Ashley, is working on one car in garage space made available at St. Leo’s/Holy Rosary Church on Manhattan Street. Meanwhile, Ray Clarke, chairman of the board of the Huber Breaker Preservation Society, said he has been advised that work has resumed on the other mine car by students at Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technology Center.
Huber Breaker Preservation Society created the park on former Huber Colliery property east of the site of the historic breaker. Efforts to save the breaker failed but segments of coal mining and railroad history are on display at the park.
Kane stripped old planking from the mine car that the society believes was once used at the Franklin Colliery, Wilkes-Barre Twp. Metal hardware, including steel side supports, a tow bar with a shock absorber and heavy bumpers were removed.
As the metal pieces are cleaned and prepared for reuse, Kane sets them aside. He said he will secure lumber from a sawmill and size it. Hemlock is the wood of choice. “It is hard and it will hold up outside,” he said. The cars, four feet wide and 12 feet long, will be displayed on rails of the proper width.
Kane said the mine car was built by American Car & Foundry in Berwick. The date of manufacture is not known but the society has an 1896 blueprint showing such cars.
The mine cars were donated by Paselo Logistics, Philadelphia, the company that purchased and razed the breaker. The mine cars once were towed underground by mules and later small engines. The cars were pulled from the mine up a slope via cable and then lowered down an incline into a rotary dump, a device that would tip the cars to empty the coal onto a conveyor that took it to the breaker for processing.
Kane also spearheaded restoration of a switchman’s shanty that once sat in the Central Railroad of New Jersey yard north of the Huber Breaker. The CNJ hauled millions of tons of coal from the Huber and other area collieries. The shanty was the switchman’s protection during bad weather.
Railroad history also is recalled with full-size tracks and a signal tower placed near the shanty. The powder house that once held dynamite used to blast coal seams has been restored. The colliery sign from the main entrance to the Huber complex was saved and is in the park. The centerpiece of the park is the memorial to coal miners.
A state historical marker was dedicated outside the park on Labor Day, 2017. The park sits on 3.1 acres of land donated by Earth Conservancy, which uses the former Blue Coal Corp. building as its offices.
Clarke said the society accepts donations to allow park development. Donations can be made to the Huber Breaker Preservation Society at Corner Post Federal Credit Union, PO Box 1172, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18703. Anyone needing more information may call Clarke at 570-824-3176.