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Anthracite Heritage Art and Culture Eckley Miners' Village Exhibits Lifestyle Museums Northeastern Pennsylvania

Anthracite Heritage – Eckley Miners’ Village

Anthracite Heritage

Eckley Miners’ Village Anthracite Heritage

We celebrated Patchtown Days and Slavic Fest 2016

by Mike Korb

Pat and I went to Eckley Miners’ Village for their annual “Patchtown Days,” a genuine commemoration of Anthracite Heritage. We had an opportunity to experience Slavic Fest 2016, a celebration of the customs and traditions of the Slavic peoples who emigrated to the anthracite coal region. Traditional music, food, living history, and crafts were all part of the lineup.  Pat’s family is Slovak. Her maiden name was Trubisky, before that maybe “Trubecki” in the Carpathians where her great grandparents came from in the 1870s.

We were at Eckley for a fun and eventful morning.  In the middle of the main street. we saw a play about prejudice against the Slavs presented by Eckley Players, a group of volunteers who dress in 1870s garb; Pat  ate “loksa”, a potato/flour pancake cooked on a coal stove in a Slavic summer kitchen; we talked to some University of Maryland archaeology students on a dig on Eckley’s Back Street;  we listened to Slavic music;  Pat fed a therapy donkey and decided not to buy a corn straw broom; people ate haluski, pierogi, halupki while I had hot dogs and watched them.  Seems like it was a great day for a good time in a relaxed setting.

Pat Korb at Eckley Miners’ Village

 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past.”

Eckley Miners’ Village is heritage tourism.  

Most of all, it tells the story of anthracite heritage and people through the preservation and exploration of the site. It is helped by these cultural festivals. http://eckleyminersvillage.com Next year’s Patchtown Days will be a celebration of Irish culture.

Eckley Miners’ Village was founded in 1854. But it is a village frozen in time.  Consequently, you see a company town that housed miners and their families, a doctor, a company store, and churches. The town also had the coal mine and the “breaker” where the mined coal was sized for market.  These often were the only places immigrant families could afford to live.  In the early 1900s, Pennsylvania had more company towns, which were known as “coal patches,” than any other state in the nation.

Eckley survives, a relic of anthracite mining heritage, because of a movie.  The 1968  motion picture “The Molly Maguires,” starring Sean Connery, Richard Harris, and Samantha Eggar scenes were mostly filmed there.  The homes and streets were restored to circa 1870 and a prop breaker and other period structures were erected for the movie. You’ll want to  rent or buy the movie, a lost American film classic, at Amazon or Netflix. (http://www.movies.com/molly-maguires/m47145)   I’ll write more about the “Mollies” in Anthracite Heritage in future posts.

In 1971, the village of Eckley was bought “lock, stock, and barrel” by Hazleton (nine miles west of Eckley) businessmen.  They donated it to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to transform the quiet village into the country’s first mining-town museum. http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/portal/communities/pa-heritage/jewel-in-crown-old-king-coal-eckley-miners-village.html

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has active support by the Eckley Miners’ Village Associates, a non-profit community-based organization. Eckley is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.  Take a guided tour at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m., Monday-Saturday (at 2 p.m. on Sunday).  Treat yourself to a nice quiet stroll through history. Haunted Halloween Lantern Tours and Christmas at Eckley are two of the special events offered throughout the year.  

1940s WWII Weekend

Consider attending the 1940s WWII Weekend August 6 and 7, which will include a Swing Dance to a live band on Saturday evening at the Freeland Public Park Pavilion, four miles north of Eckley at 401 Front St., Freeland. 

Photo courtesy of Eckley Miners’ Village

 

Anthracite Heritage
View of the Eckley Miners’ Village from the mining engineer house…Photos by Mike Korb

 

Eckley’s 1940 anthracite mining engineer’s  reflects the  home front  in the region, the subject of the weekend.  It seems like it was an interesting time in Northeastern PA.  

In 1940, more than half the US homes were heated with coal – 88 percent in Pennsylvania.  However, anthracite production and employment were cut in half from 1918 and the biggest company had filed for bankruptcy in 1937.  Although the war years brought production back, labor shortages with increased production  caused problems . Some results were labor problems and collusion between companies.  The push for more coal caused much of the extensive environmental derogation that  led to many of today’s abandoned mine land problems.

You can see a good  film in the public domain about the 1940s in anthracite online at http://www.buyoutfootage.com/pages/titles/pd_na_428.php#.V3EEIsuV91s

I don’t dance, but I DO plan to visit the WWII Weekend.


3 other Anthracite Heritage festivals you won’t want to miss:

 

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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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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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