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Blog Post By: Martha Capwell Fox, D&L Museum & Archives Coordinator
Scott Herring has spent years photographing Pennsylvania’s legendary anthracite mines, miners and trains.
He’s now organizing a region-wide celebration of Pennsylvania’s hard coal culture and the history it made, to be held next year on the 250th anniversary of the first documented use of anthracite coal as a fuel in America.
“It is time to commemorate the long, significant history—a quarter-millennium—of this distinctive place and people,” says Herring.
In 1768, Obadiah and Daniel Gore, experimented with anthracite in their blacksmith forge at Wilkes-Barre. The good results they got with “stone coal” led other blacksmiths in the region to use it. By the 1820s, the canals made anthracite available up and down the East Coast, and in the 1840s, it ignited the American Industrial Revolution. Then the railroads carried it to the entire country. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Pennsylvania anthracite powered the nation.
Along with anthracite, the hard coal region developed a unique culture. Waves of immigrants, from Ireland, Wales, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Italy created a potent mix of religious tradition, language, custom, and cuisine, all bound together by a common resiliency, toughness, and determination to succeed in their new land. Even fifty years after the nearly complete demise of anthracite mining, that culture is still strong.
Herring hopes every area of the Corridor will join in the celebration. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, feel free to contact him at [email protected].