Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mining History Week Events

For those of you interested in mining history week activities, below is a list of events taking place.


Mining History Week Events to Take Place January 17 to January 24, 2012 in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Pittston, Port Griffith, and Ashley.

A regional observance of Mining History Week will take place between January 17 and January 24, 2012, at programs in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Pittston, Port Griffith, and Ashley. This year’s events will focus on the victims of the Knox Mine Disaster as well as the tens of thousands of individual mineworkers—men and boys—who toiled, and often died or were injured, in the area’s coal mines.

The events are sponsored by the Anthracite Heritage Museum, the Anthracite Heritage Foundation, King’s College, Wilkes University, the Huber Breaker Preservation Society, the Anthracite Living History Group, the Old Forge Coal Mine, the Greater Pittston Historical Society, and the Knox Mine Disaster Memorial Committee.

The public is invited to attend any or all of the events free of charge.

January 17, 12:30 – 8 p.m., Wilkes University, Exhibit Opening, Sordoni Gallery, Stark Learning Center: “Let Children be Children: Lewis Wickes Hine’s Crusade against Child Labor,” Organized by the George Eastman House. The exhibit runs from January 16 to March 11, 2012.

January 17, 7 p.m., Wilkes University, Exhibit Opening Lecture: Prof. Robert P. Wolensky, “The Anthracite Mining Industry during the Lewis Hine Years,” Room 166, Stark Learning Center. Refreshments provided.

January 19, 7 p.m., King's College, The Inaugural Msgr. John J. Curran Memorial Lecture, Prof. Robert P. Wolensky and William A. Hastie, “The Knox Mine Disaster: The Anthracite Mineworker and The Culture of Corruption,” Room 104, McGowan Business School. Refreshments provided.

January 21, 2:30 p.m., Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton, Annual Program on the Knox Mine Disaster; featuring George “Bucky” Mazur, the last living survivor of the disaster, other presentations, new Knox Disaster documentary film; anthracite folk music, Audrey Calvey’s memorial embroidery, and refreshments.

January 22, 10 a.m., St. John the Evangelist Church, Annual Knox Mine Disaster Memorial Mass, Williams Street, Pittston.

January 22, 11:30 a.m., Knox Memorial Monument and PHMC Marker, Annual service in front of the Baloga Funeral Home (formerly St. Joseph's Church), Main Street, Port Griffith.

January 22, 12 noon, Knox Mine Disaster Site, Walk to the disaster site along the Susquehanna River in Port Griffith (weather permitting; gather at the Baloga Funeral Home).

January 24, 7 p.m., Huber Breaker Preservation Society, Atty. F. Charles Petrillo will speak on: “Last Shift: The End of Deep-Coal Mining in the Wyoming Valley 1959-1974,” Earth Conservancy Building, Main Street, Ashley, in front of the Huber Breaker. Refreshments provided.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This day in History, August 11, 1885

Twelve miners were killed August 11, 1885 in a mining accident at the West End Colliery in Mocanaqua. News reports say a gas explosion killed 12 of the men, wounding a number of others including the mine superintendant, John Teasdale; he was one of the people who became unconscious after they went down into the mine to rescue those who were trapped. Investigators at the time said that a fan that gives surface air to miners down below broke, thus depriving the miners of fresh air. About 75 men were working in the mine at the time of the accident. News reports say Teasdale ordered the men back to work, despite the dangerous conditions, however Teasdale told “The New York Times” that wasn’t the case. At the time, it was one of the deadliest mining accidents in the Wyoming Valley.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Piece of Our History -- Pop Gruver's Writing Desk

As you enter the Historical Society’s repository and museum, you’ll notice a sign-in desk that really is a piece of Shickshinny’s history. A special thanks to member Frank Evina of Mocanaqua who donated it for preservation.

The desk belonged to ‘Pop Gruver’ who ran a blacksmith shop out of a row of garages once located on West Vine Street in Shickshinny. The garages were located directly behind the old Reider Bus Station building on Route 11. Many of the buildings literally hung over Shickshinny Creek and were unfortunate casualties of the 1972 flood.

Gruver used it to write out his bills and keep his receipts and bookkeeping records for the shop in the storage compartment, according to his housekeeper whom Evina got the desk. He was quite good and creative with his hands and took a lot of scrap metal and made things with it; Evina said he regrets an electric lamp made out of scrap iron taken from the Shickshinny-Mocanaqua Covered Bridge that burned in 1918.

‘Pop Gruver’ died as a result of his work. A horse stepped on his foot and it became infected with gangrene and he refused to have his leg amputated, despite the advice of his doctor and soon died. Both Gruver and his wife are buried in the cemetery on the hill off Butler Street. Pop’s son Pete operated the G&W Lunch Room on Union Street. His other son Russell was tragically killed by a train as a young boy.

The desk itself is likely made of a manufacture piece of wood, but it does contain a lot of dovetailing on the corners and has wooden pegs in the lid (there are no nails). Desks like these were very common in shops and commonly referred to in the antique world as ‘portable slant-top writing desks’ since they could be picked up and moved around.

Thanks for Frank for saving this local piece of history!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Upcoming Meeting Announcement

The Historical and Preservation Society of the Greater Shickshinny Area invite the public to attend its upcoming meeting on October 10, 2010 at its museum and repository at the FLT Building in on North Main Street, Shickshinny. The general membership meeting will be held at 1 PM.

The Historical Society will welcome Georgetta Potoski, President of the Plymouth Historical Society as the speaker who will talk about ethnic struggles in the Plymouth area at the turn of the century. Her presentation will follow the meeting.

In addition, members will also discuss upcoming fundraising events as well as the latest progress in the renovation of the FLT Building.

Meetings are also scheduled for November 12 where the Society will welcome Shickshinny’s Don Hargraves who will narrate a video from the 1960 Centennial Parade. On December 12, local historian Roger Gilbert will conduct a presentation on the Powder Hole.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This Day in History - September 17

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On September 17, 1900, The New York Times continued its series of articles about what they dubbed one of the greatest labor outages in the country’s history; the miners’ strike stemmed from a labor dispute with coal operators throughout Wyoming Valley.

However, at Mocanaqua’s West End Colliery, things were different.

When everyone else refused to work, miners in Mocanaqua went to work.

“When the whistles blew this morning for the commencement of work there were very few men in sight. The pumpmen and runners were on hand to go to their posts, but miners and laborers were conspicuous by their absence. Some distance from the collieries, watchers were stationed. They were there to see if any of the miners intended to go to work. When they found that the men remained away, they returned to the United Mine Workers’ headquarters and reported. By 9 o’clock Present Nicholls had reports from every mine in the district. They were very encouraging, showing that all had closed down, with the exception of the one at Mocanaqua.”

Through the Valley, more than 22,000 miners were off the job.

Union bosses were expected to make the rounds again on the following day to encourage miners to not go back to work – evening Mocanaqua where workers said they were ‘satisfied with the conditions of things.’

From the New York Times, September 18, 1900

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 15, 1900

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On September 15, 1900 Mocanaqua’s West End Colliery was one of a number of coal operations up and down the Wyoming Valley where its workers were getting ready for a strike. The New York Times reported ‘the West End Coal Company men at Mocanaqua reported nearly all employees at work’ and that ‘many of the foreign element were noticed about the mines’ (meaning a large number of its workers were not native born). The Times was anticipating ‘what may prove the greatest strike in the history of the labor world’ and that it would be one of the ‘darkest days of anthracite.’

Workers were fighting for higher wages and better working conditions.

The NYT article also gives insight into the management of the West End Coal Company in Mocanaqua. The writer (who wasn’t named in the archived report) said the mine operators were waiting for developments and that ‘many are of the opinion that the novelty of the thing will wear off in a few days’ meaning there would be a rush for work once again. It also said the mine employed about 5,000 people – mostly of Hungarian and Slavic descent.

John Conyngham, West End’s president, was quoted as saying that only five percent of the miners working in Mocanaqua belonged to the union and that even after the mine shut down for the day notices were posted that the union would strike.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


To all those who have ‘Googled’ Shickshinny and came up with few places to go – welcome! To those of you who know the address of our site – welcome! To those of you who are here to learn about local history – welcome!
The Historical and Preservation Society of the Greater Shickshinny Area was created in the early part of the new millennium to help share the knowledge of the local history of the ‘land of the five mountains.' So far, we’ve been able to collect pictures and artifacts as well as oral histories from some of our older members.
We’ve come a long way.
We started out hopping to different venues around the area and we now have a home. Even though it’s not quite ready, the FLT Building (the former Odd Fellow’s Building next to the CVS) is where we hold meetings. Soon, we'll have a museum for everyone to see.
We did this in conjunction with the Business Association of the Greater Shickshinny Area to help save an old building from the wrecking ball and to add community space for our little corner of the world. When it’s done it will be the cornerstone of the community and something that everyone will be proud of.
If you'd like to join, drop us an email and we’ll be more than happy to get you involved!
Everyone has something to share, regardless of their roots and regardless of their abilities.
In the next days and weeks, you can read about local history, find out about our upcoming meetings, and other things that we’re doing.
Our email address is:
Meetings are held on the second Sunday of the month at 1 PM at the FLT Building and usually have a speaker. We do not have meetings in June, July, or August.
Thanks for stopping by and make sure you bookmark us!