Anthracite Coal Mining, Near Shamokin PA

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MYERCHIN FAMILY NOTE: The John M Myerchin Sr Family lived in Shamokin, PA and worked in the Anthracite Mines in 1883. The men worked in the coal mines for seven years. Because they were farmers in Slovakia and after enduring the many dangers and health hazards of coal mining, The John M Myerchin Family purchased land near Tabor, MN.


Anthracite Coal Mining

Almost all of the nation's anthracite coal is found in eastern Pennsylvania. There are about 7 billion tons of minable anthracite coal reserves in Pennsylvania

Anthracite mining occurs in eight Pennsylvania counties: Schuylkill, Carbon, Luzerne, Northumberland, Lackawanna, Columbia, Dauphin and Sullivan Counties (ranked in order of production).

Anthracite coal seams are locked in the folded layers of rock that make up the geology of Northeastern Pennsylvania. This geology often made it dangerous and difficult to mine.



The tunnels and shafts driven into the ground to mine anthracite coal were often at steep angles that forced miners to either crawl up mine tunnels and down others to get to the coal.

Picture a birthday cake with several layers that was pushed from both ends until it folds in the middle.


Circa 1900


Anthracite production in Pennsylvania reached its peak in 1917 when more than 100 million tons of coal were mined from underground operations centered in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton region. Anthracite industry employment reached its peak in 1914 with nearly 181,000 miners.


Young children worked in the mines


Between 1870 and 1995 there have been 31,113 deaths recorded in anthracite mining accidents, from a high of 708 in 1908 to zero in 1982, 1984, 1987 and 1992.

Modern mining methods, safety training and inspections in the mining industry have dramatically improved the safety record on the industry to the point where it is about equal to agriculture and the construction industry.

Although anthracite production experienced a dramatic decline after World War II, production has increased more than 150 percent since 1990 with a surge in new uses in cogeneration, industrial and residential heating.

Large scale underground mining of anthracite coal essentially ended in 1959 in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area as a result of the Knox Mine flood. In January of that year the Susquehanna River broke through and extensively flooded the underground anthracite mines in the region after a mine operator mined under the river.

The Susquehanna River literally disappeared into the mines at the break through point. The Lehigh Valley Railroad was relocated to move over 30 rail cars and 400 mine cars in to plug the hole caused by the break through.


Present Day

Over 8.7 million tons of anthracite coal were mined in Pennsylvania in 1995 employing just over 2,179 people in 274 mining operations.

Most of the anthracite coal-5.8 million tons was reclaimed from refuse piles left over from old mining operations or from bank mines. Bank mines are mines cut into hillsides to expose a vein of coal.

Just over 2.4 million tons was mined from surface mines where soil and rock are stripped off to expose the coal underneath.

About 427,000 tons were recovered through deep mining, mining that occurs underground where coal is taken out through a system of tunnels and shafts.

There are four fatal mine accidents in anthracite mines in 1995.

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