4:34 min June 05, 2023

Step Back in Time at the No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum

Travel back in time during a tour with the No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum in Lansford!

No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum is the country's oldest coal mine open for tours, and the world's longest continuously operated deep anthracite coal mine.

On the hour-long tour, you'll venture 1,600 feet into the mountainside to see history preserved and authentically presented unlike any other.

Interesting sights include the original mine shaft, mule ways, steep steps coal miners climbed to reach vertical veins, and the underground hospital where they were treated.

“It's not a hospital in the proper sense, simply a concrete room there as a first aid station for men who were injured or perhaps killed in the line of work,” said Zachary Petroski, president of Panther Creek Valley Foundation.

No. 9 operated from 1855 to 1972, then the mine was abandoned for 20 years until a non-profit named Panther Creek Valley Foundation took over in 1992. Artifacts left inside the mine are now on display, seen by visitors from 38 countries and counting.

“It took seven years to get the mine safely open for public tours, which began in May 2002, and we've been going ever since,” Petroski added.

PTN’s tour guide, Daryl, is a proud fourth-generation coal miner. He is fueled by the opportunity to share his heritage and educate others about the industry he, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather dedicated their lives to.

The conditions took hard work, grit, and lives.

At least 67 workers died in this mine alone, the youngest just 15 years old. For many, the risk was worth the reward.

“This was the main fuel of the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, powering the cities of Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. Coal provided stable employment to men coming over from the old country to settle in the United States,” Petroski explained.

They ultimately landed in Lansford and other coal towns around Northeastern Pennsylvania, home to the country's largest-known anthracite deposits.

“That created a cycle they became stuck in. You worked for the company, lived in a company-owned home, bought things from the company in the company store system,” Petroski said.

From the mine to the museum. Thousands of artifacts including workers' personal items are housed inside the former wash shanty, which served as a locker room for coal miners. Visitors will notice baskets lining the museum ceiling, which dried wet clothes overnight.

“Mines were required to provide wash facilities for the men. In our case, this building was built in 1912 to service 500 men split between day and night shifts,” Petroski said.

Although the coal mining industry still exists, now mostly for global steel production, current conditions are much safer. Yet, visitors appreciate this deep dive back in time.

“We were looking for something very interesting for our grandson and his wife to do while they're visiting from Illinois. We had quite a list of things to do, and today was the time to see the No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum. We also took a train ride in neighboring Jim Thorpe and enjoyed that,” said John Kratz of Montgomery County, PA.

No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum is open seasonally from April-late November. Remember to wear close-toed shoes and bring a light jacket, since the mine is about 50 degrees year-round. It's also a great place to cool off in the summertime.