Written in the National Historic Places of Pennsylvania is the once mining town of Eckly.
At one time, back in the 1800’s when Coal was King, many miners and their families lived here working in the cold, dark, man made hell of the Anthracite Mines. Working out a merger existence to feed their families and keep food on their table.
The Miners that worked and lived here did not have all that much. A roof over their heads that included this typical kitchen of it’s day. The Coal Stove was the main heat of the home and would be moved outside during the Summer to keep the home as cool as possible.
Coal was hauled up from the Mine in these Coal cars. The old Coal Breaker is one of 3 that were built on this site.
The man who owned the Mine lived in this house with his Family and Servants. He had it much better than the Miners who made him the money.
This small mining town had a Catholic Church, pictured above, a Store which most miners were in debt to, a Social Hall where everyone could gather on different nights or day’s of the week, gardens where most of the food was grown. This is the original Church from then.
Looking inside the original Church at the Alter.
Not my photo. Taken from the Eckly site showing how it looked to work in a Mine.
Not only did the men work in the Mines, but young boy’s did too. Called “Breaker Boy’s” it was their job to separate the Coal from the shale, plus other duties such as pulling the Mules and Horse’s in and out of the Mine. It was not uncommon for boy’s at the age of 7 yrs. to work long hours right along with their Fathers. There were no Labor Laws back then. Sometimes they worked 12 – 14 hrs. a day and hardly saw the light of day.
Here at the Eckly Village there is also a Museum that has many artifacts of the tools that were used, also the clothing, dishware, stoves, candles, and much more. It’s interesting to walk around and see what once was so long ago. Be thankful for what you have today. They didn’t have much. Only what they could provide.
11 thoughts on “THE VILLAGE OF ECKLY”
What an interesting article and amazing photos you take. i love reading about these interesting times in history. A lot of my family worked in the mining world and my son is working in the Congo. All very interesting!
Thank you, jenny, for your kind comment. I do try and document, as best I can, about where I’ve been and what I and my camera see. I am by no means a writer. I just type what comes to mind. I will be posting more as time goes by. Have a good one!
Nicely documented, Les! I like how you tied now and then together. Too often, when we see historic buildings and sites, the passage of time softens the genuine suffering that went on there.
The coal mines never were (and aren’t now) an easy life, and they were exceptionally unregulated and dangerous in historic times. The breaker boys are especially sad to see, yet they were essential to financial security of sorts by their families.
Hard to believe we ever had to legislate to prevent slave labor of children, essentially, yet “breaker boy” was childhood for so many in coal country.
Other hardships awaited children in other parts of the economy, of course, where they might run mill equipment or any number of other dangerous machines.
Thank you for your comment. It was appreciated very much. I do try and document, as best I can, places that I’ve been for all to see.
To my knowledge there are only 3 working Mines up in Coal Country and are not very big. The Coal Industry has dropped off considerably over the passing years. You don’t see the big coal trucks operating much anymore. They are there, but not as much as before. One of these times, I’m gonna get some Images of the “Utes”, as they are called that haul coal. They are huge machines on 4 wheels. The tires are 12 ft. tall! First I have to find out just where they are. I’ll ask some people that my Wife knows. They can probably tell me.
The “Breaker Boys” no longer exist. The Child Labor Laws and the United Mine Workers put a stop to that. There is no such thing as having to do what they did for so long a period of time. Big machinery has taken the place of them. There is enough Coal underground up there to last this Country for more than 100 yrs., but no one seems to want it anymore. It pollutes the air. Coal Country is a interesting area to visit. This is why I go there when I can.
I grew up in a small coal mining town. It had two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant, a company store and streets of houses that all looked the same. My mom worked at the company store.
At last managed to come over here Les, I’ve recently acquired a new laptop and needless to say, have had a lot of issues to sort out which has caused me to fall way behind with my blogging and writing. What a fascinating piece of history you share here, and what a terribly hard-scrabble life for these miners and ‘Breaker Boys’. The different way of life between them and the ‘boss’ is quite staggering isn’t it. Very interesting blog you have here Les, I look forward to reading more! ~ Sherri
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment on my Post. Comments are always appreciated, since I get so few of them.
The people of Eckly were a hard bunch of working Miners. Most all of the people in the Coal Region area are still the same way. They will give the shirt off their backs to help you, but don’t piss them off! They love their beer. It is not uncommon to see someone walking on the street with a beer in their hands! I’ve seen a fella walking in a Catholic Church parking lot with a quart of beer in his hands! Don’t know what the Police have to say about that. As I may have stated before, History abounds in that area. I will continue to go up there in the future and record what I see, as well as other places. Be Well, Sherri. I’m watching.
I also have had to purchase a new Laptop system since my desktop failed after more than 12 yrs. of usage. However, when this happened there was no way that I could recover the many Images that I’ve taken over the passing years. Allot of them have been lost. On top of that, I’ve had to learn to use this new operating system that I am just starting to get to know, but it’s still confusing for me. Windows 8.1 is supposed to be user friendly, but I’m not so sure about that.~ Les
It is a process I dread too. The good thing is I have been able to get a new laptop with Windows 7 as apparantely Microsoft are offering that option due to so many people not getting on with Windows 8. 8.1 is supposed to be better, but as you say, I’m not so sure either. Now I hear talk of Windows 10! Sorry to hear you lost your images, that’s a pain. I wish you the very best in getting to grips with your new laptop. I feel your pain!
Interesting article about a part of the country I know nothing about. I suspect the breaker boys became broken men. How can one work like that their entire life and not breakdown physically (not to mention black lung). I am glad to see that you’re documenting the life of working people. Van Gogh did that at a time when everyone else was painting the comfortable and the rich.
First I’d like to thank you for following my Blog and leaving a comment. I have done the same.
The Coal Region Area that is just North of my Home is quite a interesting place for me to visit with my Camera. To get there I just have to travel about 30 min., up over the hill as I call it, and your there. It seems that when you crest that big hill over the Mtn. you enter a whole different type of world, even though it really is not. Living in this area seems to be much different than here. The “Coal Crackers”, as we call them, are a very hard working, giving, and nice people to know. My Loving Wife is one of them. Life seems a bit slower than down here. There are not many jobs to be had and un-employment is very high. People must travel down here to get a half way decent job. Some travel 60 miles to keep a job. There is not much landscape up there, either. Lot’s of barren land with Coal piles from the Mines of long ago. They are called “Clum Piles”. Nothing but shale and rock from deep inside the mines that was hauled there years ago. Places were Coal Breakers once stood, are now replaced by shopping centers or just a blank barren piece of dark ground. I will try and post more about the area as soon as the weather here get’s better. Thank you, again. ~ Les