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of Freeland, Pa.
Mining, miners, coal pickers
Here is a collection of images from the Freeland area's mining past. A number of these are postcards from my own collection, some images have been contributed by other local history enthusiasts, and a number of other postcard images were posted on eBay over the last 10 years. I hope that the people who posted them don't mind having them resurface here. These images are traces of a history long past, and I hope that seeing them will stimulate more interest in purchasing and preserving Freeland area images and artifacts as they show up on eBay and elsewhere for sale.
You'll see a note at the end of the page pertaining to the final image on this page, regarding a questionable caption. Ed Merrick reminds us that, as was the case with the postcards of women coal pickers shown further below, some postcard publishers played fast and loose with images and captions, and you can't always believe what you read. As with other aspects of history, it's best to try to confirm things from multiple sources.
This page is a work in progress, and I plan to add whatever additional information I can find or that I receive. If you have information or photos that you would be willing to share here, please email me. Thank you, and I hope you'll enjoy this page.
[Note: At some point I might put these photos into a table, but for now they're just positioned in such a way that if your browser window isn't open wide enough, the sections with more than 6 or 7 images might get jumbled onto the next line. Just make your browser window a little wider and it will fix the problem -- a temporary fix.]
Coal strippings - strip mining
All of us who grew up in the Freeland area know where there
are some coal strippings ("strippins"). Many will recall watching steam
shovels at work in the various strippings. My dad used to take me and
my brother out to areas on the edges of the strippings in Upper Lehigh
where white birch trees were growing and mushrooms could sometimes be
found, and we'd pick a bagful of mushrooms and take them home to cook
with scrambled eggs. I remember getting some driving lessons out on
some of those stripping roads, where there was no traffic. The images
here show a few views of strip mining. The first image at left shows
stripmining in one of the Hazleton mines, from a postcard postmarked
1910. The next image is a postcard that was published by Fairchild in
The two photos at right are more modern views and come to us
from Ed Merrick. About the third image from left, Ed wrote: "On back it
reads: Surface Mining of Coal by the Anthracite King Shovel. Color by
Farkus Studio. Toth News Co., 70 N. Pine St. Hazleton, Pa. I think that
may have been the actual name of the shovel, and, given the credits
(Farkus was a Hazleton photographer), the photo was probably taken in
the Freeland area. I'll check with Don Snyder. His dad was a coal
inspector in Upper Lehigh, and Don also worked in the coal office."
About the rightmost image, Ed wrote: "On back: Two Giant Shovels in a
Coal Stripping Operation in Pennsylvania. Plastichrome by Colourpicture
Publishers, Inc., Boston 30, Mass., U.S.A. Toth News etc."
A coal mine, possibly in Drifton
Here is the same image on two different postcards, the one at left labeled "Drifting Stripping, Freeland, Pa.", the one at right identified on the back as being Freeland.
Miners at work
Here are three postcards of posed shots of miners at work. The two at left both say Freeland on them, so it's uncertain what mine these were in. The middle image is strange, and seems like a photograph that was later "enhanced" with pen and ink, resulting in an odd looking image. The postcard at right and at the top left of the page comes from Ed Merrick and again seems like an enhanced and hand colored photographic image. Ed says that it was published by Mebane Greeting Card. Co, Wilkes-Barre.
Boys working in the mines and breakers
It was not uncommon in the early decades of anthracite mining in the region to see boys drop out of school and go to work in the mines instead. It was difficult to raise a family on a miner's salary, and the extra income was helpful.
Mules in the mines
In the earliest decades of mining in our area, mules were essential helpers. They did not get a say in the matter. I hope they were treated kindly. Freeland was also home to several businesses that supported mining, including the Beagle Hame Works, which was well known enough to be mentioned in the 1910 Encyclopaedia Britannica as one of four industries in Freeland. Hames were the collar-like items that were used to yoke horses and mules, as shown in this Beagle Hame Works ad from the 1890s. Also shown is a check from that company to the Citizens Bank in 1915, showing the Beagle Hame Works logo.
Women coal pickers
I remember hearing about women and children picking coal that had fallen by the wayside and taking it home for the stove. Here are three versions of the same postcard, variously labeled Freeland, Hazleton, Wilkes Barre.
Here are two different types of pay day images. The one at left shows miners lined up to receive their pay at Jeddo. The one at right is labeled Freeland, BUT Ed Merrick sent me a copy of the exact same postcard image labeled "Pay Day at the Colliery, Summit Hill, Pa."!!! He asked me to post a warning that these captions should be considered tentatively until confirmed by additional evidence. At present I'm not recognizing the breaker in this last image from among the various area breakers I've seen pictures of, but perhaps one of our readers will be able to identify it. Or, perhaps it's Summit Hill, or one of the many other collieries in Pa.!
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