The U.S. state of Pennsylvania is known for many things. Among them is coal mining. Although there are many coal mines in the state, some of them are no longer active. Among them is the Number 9 Coal Mine in Lansford.
Opened in 1855 by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, Anthracite coal was mined and dug out from multiple veins of which one of them is called the Mammoth Vein which was nearly 100 inches thick in some places. (In case you are confused, a vein of coal is an underground area where coal is dug out or extracted from.) It was at the time the longest continuously operating Anthracite coal mine in the world. The mining stopped on June 22, 1972. The mine was abandoned. In 1992, the Panther Creek Valley Foundation reopened the mine not as a working coal mine but as a tourist destination. It was restored and opened as a tour mine and museum in 2002. Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the Number 9 Coal Mine and Museum and experience life as a coal miner minus the noise and the excessive coal dust.
Some of you are saying, “Well, this is very nice that they were able to reopen this mine for tours and help preserve the history. There is one problem. There is no railroad here. Therefore, I will not be making a tour of this mine.”
Be advised that you are absolutely wrong. The railroad has a long association with coal mining, and that association continues today. There are very few mines in the United States of America that had no access to the railroad. Although the railroad no longer passes by the Number 9 Coal Mine, when this mine was operational, two major rail lines, the Central Railroad of New Jersey and the Lehigh and New England Railroad, passed close by.
As you arrive at the Number 9 Coal Mine, the first thing you will see is a railroad line. At the end of the railroad line is Locomotive Number 51. As you park and walk the grounds, you will see coal cars on rails full of coal.
Be advised. This is just the beginning.
The tour of the mine also includes a tour of the museum. Of course, you see artifacts of coal mining, and you will see numerous models of trains. You will see vintage photos of the rail yard and refineries served by the trains. There is a model train display of the coal trains going from the mine to the breaker from processing.
However, you did not come to see the museum. You came to see the mine itself.
You arrive at the start of the tour. You are going into the mine. How? You are riding on a mine train. No. This is not a replica but the same kind of train the coal miners would have ridden into the mine. Be advised that the ride is not a comfortable one, but it was less comfortable for the coal miners. You arrive just under 200 feet underground about a quarter of a mile into the mountain. The tour guide tells you the stories of the mine workers. He shows you the different parts of the mine where the coal is extracted (meaning dug out) and transported. He shows you the different tools used in the mine. You can walk on the original mule ways where young miners guided mules to the different mine levels. It is as if you are the coal miner minus the dust.
The Number 9 Coal Mine is part of a rich Anthracite coal region. It is located at 9 W. Dock Street in Lansford, Pennsylvania. It is a short drive from U.S. Route 209. It is open from April through November from 10:00am to 4:00pm. (Days vary by time of year. Last tour is at 3:00pm.) Admission is required to enter the mine. Parking is on site, and there is a picnic area just in case you want to bring a lunch. Please note that the mine may be difficult for those in wheelchairs. You can get more information about the mine and read more into the history of the Number 9 Coal Mine at https://no9minemuseum.wixsite.com/museum.
If you are in the northeastern region of Pennsylvania, make your way to the town of Lansford. You may find that the Number 9 may be your lucky number.
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