Scranton, Pa – Coal and Trains


  Scranton is wedged in a long valley of the Appalachian mountain range. The pressure and folding of these mountains created anthracite coal which is harder and cleaner burning than other types of coal. This whole area is honeycombed with underground mines , once the source of great wealth and great misery depending on one’s circumstances. The mine owners owned the railroads  so they controlled not only a very valuable resource but the delivery system too. The miners came from western Europe and later eastern Europe lured by inexpensive steamship fares. Working in the mines was dirty, hard and dangerous. In the worse cases the miner was responsible for supplying all of his tools , dynamite , mule and helpers. He was paid by the weight of the coal that he managed to mine so some days he made nothing and the mine owner didn’t have to shoulder any of the expense. These conditions lead to labor strikes which often turned violent when strikebreakers and police were involved. The mining industry collapsed after WWII when other sources of fuel became more popular.

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