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June 2016

Art and Culture Exhibits Museums Northeastern Pennsylvania

Anthracite Heritage Tourism

anthracite heritage tourism

Anthracite Heritage Tourism

“Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!”

by Mike Korb

Over 60 percent of the world’s anthracite coal is deposited in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA).  During the 19th century, anthracite coal was the fuel that ignited the Industrial Revolution. When you take an anthracite heritage tour, there is lots to see and lots to learn about in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania – 484 square miles in nine counties, between Harrisburg and Forest City. When you travel the 150-mile trip up Interstate 81 and across US Route 6 and make one of the many eye-opening side trips through the coalfields, you will ride along a ridge, looking into deep valleys, over steep hills, along streams and rivers, and find yourself surrounded by spectacular scenery. You’ll see cities, mountains, unique small towns, and hear and learn distinctive stories and traditions. And those are just a few of the characteristics of anthracite heritage tourism that are something unlike anything else – Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have! 

The story of the anthracite coalfields is a legacy of labor history, ethnic diversity, and pride, creating a working-class culture that made America great. One-hundred years ago in this scenic area, 180,000 hard-working miners were producing the coal that created modern America.  It’s a real believe-it-or-not experience when you read and hear the work these guys did when you see it yourself on a journey into an underground mine. I’m inviting you to come and explore NEPA to enjoy the one of a kind anthracite heritage tourism, recreation, sights, stories and adventures waiting for you here in the coal regions.

I’m Mike Korb, a mining engineering graduate of the Missouri School of Mines in Rolla Missouri. I’ve been working in the mining industry for more than 50 years in management, executive, professional, supervisory, consulting, and technical jobs; worked in bituminous coal, iron ore, limestone, industrial sand, copper and slag mining operations and more than 20 years in the anthracite coal fields here in NEPA. The past eight years I worked for Pennsylvania in Abandoned Mine Reclamation until May 13, when I became a “mining, reclamation, management, heritage development consultant,” retired.  Always before now when I called myself a “consultant ” it was because I was looking for a job. Now I don’t want to work full time anymore but I don’t want to stop working either. I want to continue being an advocate for mining and coal, responsible environmental management, economic development on previously mined lands and heritage development and preservation.

Right now I’m working to start a group to promote and facilitate tourism of the heritage, history, culture and natural beauty of the entire anthracite region and to educate and apprise about the features and events that demonstrate them. Joan has graciously offered to allow me to blog on her Visit Northeastern Pennsylvania page and I plan to talk with you about what that organization is doing and about the great attractions and events that are related to anthracite mining heritage, at least until she gives me “the hook.” I’m working on the name of it, which likely will be the Anthracite Heritage Alliance (AHA).

 anthracite heritage tourism

I was an immigrant to the anthracite region more than 40 years ago.  I moved to Hazleton on Valentine’s Day 1974.  My good wife Pat (some call her St. Pat for being married to me for nearly 50 years) and I had looked at houses in Jim Thorpe, Lansford, Palmerton, Pottsville, Nesquehoning, Coaldale, and Lehighton, to name a few, and I think probably every town in a 25-mile radius of Tamaqua, where I was working at the anthracite mining operation Bethlehem Steel bought from the Fauzio Brothers.

When we first looked at the region, it looked like a pretty dreary place, with lots of gray landscapes, but we discovered the people were amazing friends and neighbors and it was a great place to learn about the industrial revolution, labor history, and immigrant communities. We found it a remarkable place to live. We moved away for nearly ten years for a job on the west coast but came back because it’s such a good place to be.  It’s also somewhere you’ll want to visit.  The area has some fantastic mining heritage tourist attractions, including two state anthracite heritage museums and three underground mine tours, and the Molly Maguires; and hundreds of potentially great ones. I’ve taken dozens of groups on heritage and mining tours here and haven’t touched the coal dust on more than a fraction of them. One tour I led a couple years ago was called “Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!” You don’t want to miss what you can see and experience on these tours.  We have big open pit mining operations, magnificent architecture, churches, museums, ethnic food, iron furnaces; and historical sites – places that literally changed American history, economics, labor.

We were the “old country” for people who moved to Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, California, and their grandchildren.  How many people in the United States had a “grandfather who worked in the mines?”  And wouldn’t it be neat to show the kids where grandpa worked or a place where grandma made her home?  You can do both of those and lots more in NEPA.

AHA will develop a strong partnership network focusing on shared anthracite heritage issues, in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Schuylkill, Carbon, Columbia and Northumberland Counties – across the entire anthracite coal region, and help address legacy mining issues.  The partnership network will attempt to include all of the mining, historical, environmental, cultural, heritage, stories and tourism aspects of the anthracite region, and I hope to tell about its growth, the “Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!” and the anthracite heritage tourism places and events you should visit in NEPA. I can also help answer questions about places you want to know.waver

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Hiking in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Ricketts Glen State Park Hiking

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  • June 19, 2016
Ricketts Glen State Park Falls Trail System

Experience Ricketts Glen State Park

Explore the Falls’ Trail System 

A steady stream of foot traffic along the Ricketts Glen State Park Falls Trail System is indicative of the popularity of this 13,050-acre park located at 695 State Route 487 in Benton, Pennsylvania. Young and old alike celebrated Father’s Day 2016 at the park with hikes and picnics.

We began our Father’s Day trek at the “Falls Trail” trailhead, which begins gently on a well-maintained walking path. Parents accompanied by young children appeared to breeze through this portion of the trail and I was delighted to see many adults use their woodlands walk as a tool to teach their children about the wetlands, plants, and wildlife.

Ricketts Glen State Park spans three counties: Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia and offers a variety of hiking options on 26 miles of trails. Falls Trail gently winds through a forest over several wooden bridges but don’t be fooled. It becomes progressively more challenging. In fact, the Falls Trail System is rated 7.2 and the “most difficult” of all the trails at Ricketts Glen and the steep ledges along that trail could be a challenge for anyone with acrophobia, a fear of heights. Ganoga Falls at 94-feet is the highest of 22 named waterfalls. Murray Reynolds was the first of six falls we saw and Conestoga Falls was our last stop before we decided to turn around.

Cascading waterfalls through rock-strewn clefts on the hillside are an extraordinary sight and each waterfall we experienced is remarkably unique. Hikers should also take note of the mature timber, moss covered stones, lush greenery, and occasional wildlife along the way.

Be sure to read the rules on the trailhead signs and leave your flip-flops and sandals at home because they are not permitted on the trails. Mud and moss on many of the stone steps and along the water’s edge can be slick and hazardous.

What should you bring for a day hike? Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring a backpack large enough to accommodate water bottles and a picnic lunch if you’re planning an extensive hike.

Ricketts Glen is spectacular and well worth the drive and the hours you’ll spend engaging with nature. It’s also a fantastic workout, particularly during the heart-pounding climbs.

Visit dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/rickettsglen to learn more about Ricketts Glen and other nearby attractions.

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Art and Culture Exhibits Museums Northeastern Pennsylvania

Artists Give New Life to Books

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  • June 2, 2016

Artists transform mass-produced books

“Between the Covers: Altered Books in Contemporary Art”

Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui

Artists giving new life to books as unique works of art is the premise behind Between the Covers: Altered Books in Contemporary Art, a must-see exhibit due to close in a matter of days at The Everhart Museum of Natural History & Art in Scranton.

 

 

 

 

 

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