Coal Patch, Take Two: The Preservation of Eckley Miners’ Village

“A ghost town surrounded by strip mines.” That was how Eckley was described in the 1960s, a far cry from its heyday in the late 1800s when the coal-mining “patch town” had boasted a population of 1,500. At Eckley’s peak, more than 350 men and boys were engaged in mining nearly 144,000 tons of anthracite coal a year from local seams. By the 1960s, however, mining...
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Schuylkill County: Built on Coal

The history of Schuylkill County is inextricably bound to the story – and drama – of the great anthracite industry in the United States. Despite nearly two centuries of active mining, the county’s 783 square miles still boast the largest accessible reserves of hard coal known in the world. Its lives and lifestyles have been quasi-fictionalized by two of the county’s best...
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The Molly Maguires: Fighting for Justice

Early on the morning of Wednesday. Septem­ber 1, 1875, a young English-born mine foreman started from his Schuylkill County residence to the Shenandoah coal colliery where he was employed. A gunshot pierced the air. Scrambling for cover behind a neighbor’s house, he was met by another assassin who drew his revolver and fired. Struck in the groin, the young man staggered blindly and fell to...
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Berks County: Diamond of the Schuylkill Valley

Since 1811, when Schuylkill County was created to include part of what had been northern Berks County, Berks has been distinguishable by its diamond shape. It approxi­mates a geometric diamond or lozenge – an equilateral paral­lelogram without right angles. Its history also seems diamond-like, as it has com­bined a very hard, cutting, and persistently pragmatic charac­teristic with a...
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John Frederick Hartranft Papers

Although little recognized today, John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889) did make his mark in the history of the Commonwealth and the nation as governor and as general. Born near Norristown, Montgomery County, he attended college, practiced law, and in 1861 entered the Union army at the outbreak of the Civil War. His dedication to the military was unswerving. He was commissioned colonel of the...
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A Jewel in the Crown of Old King Coal: Eckley Miners’ Village

It survives – somewhat miraculously – as a vestige of Pennsylvania’s coal mining heritage, a link in what was once a chain of little coal communities, or patch towns, that dotted the anthracite region. “Eckley is part of the puzzle, but not a unique part. There were numerous, almost identical, mining patch towns like Eckley,” explains Vance Packard, site...
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Heritage Highlights

Hope Lodge, Fort Washington 250th Anniversary Living History Celebration, March 9, 1997 Old Economy Village, Ambridge Garden Workshop, March 22, 1997 Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton Lecture: “A Musical History of the Ukulele”, January 11, 1997 Lecture: “The Mollie Maguires: “Fiction and a Few Facts”, February 2, 1997 Lecture: “The...
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Bookshelf

Historic Houses of Philadelphia by Roger W. Moss University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998 (256 pages, cloth,$34.95) Sumptuous, a word frequently used by restaurant reviewers and critics of haute cuisine, aptly describes Historic Houses of Philadelphia, the latest fare by Roger W. Moss, known widely for his books on Victorian era architecture and ornamentation. Fifty historic houses, mansions, and...
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Old Johnny’s Vision For An Industrial Society

Although Colonel John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889) was only in his thirties during the Civil War, the rank and file of his 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment fondly called him “Old Johnny.” His soldiers especially respected his ability to make the right decisions in combat and his altogether impartial and basically humane discipline. With a mind and eye trained as a civil...
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The UMWA Wins America’s Approval: John Mitchell and the Anthracite Strike of 1902

Labor leader John Mitchell’s reputation seemed to precede him no matter where he traveled during the summer of 1902. Coal miners throughout northeastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite region referred to the boyish-looking thirty-two-year-old president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) as their beloved “Johnny d’Mitch.” His photograph hung in their homes beside...
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