(WBRE/WYOU) Parts of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania are known as the coal region.
    Many of us have heard the term before — and if your family has roots in the area there’s a good chance your ancestors were miners.

 

“My husband’s family is from here.  They were miners, they were miners in Plymouth.”  Said Doris Milburn of New Jersey

    The late 1700’s and the following one-hundred years was a period of development in the industry – and by the mid 1800’s most of the coal veins were pretty well known .

 
    The industry was starting to develop in the region says Bode Morin — the site administrator at Eckley Miner’s Village and Museum outside of Hazleton.

 These coal region patch towns like here in Eckley, were their own entity, but they did have an influence on the cities around them.”
 
As more people moved to the area, the population grew and so did the need for more housing in a small area.”

 

“The towns would have been relatively small prior to the coal industry.” Noted Morin

    Morin explains with the large exploitation of the coal industry immigrants from Ireland, as well as southern and eastern Europe began to pour into this region.

 
Morin Explains “The population wouldn’t be very big at all because the region isn’t very good for farming, the soils aren’t suited as well  as they are in say Lancaster county or some of the other surrounding areas, but because of the coal it really drew people here and it really created a new culture and new identity for the people.”

    Due to that influx of people — coal companies had to build efficient housing resulting in many of the row-homes you see today.

 
“Like most businesses they look to reduce expenses, so they are not going to be building lavish houses and extensive houses for their workers, so when you see row houses, that’s an attempt to get a lot of people into a relatively small space with relatively minimal cost.” Added Morin

    With that came a need for more resources in towns… Like doctors lawyers…. many of the immigrants were of varying religions — which is why we see so many different churches.

    As bad as tight quarters and coal mining sounds — Moring Saysit was Stillbetter than where they came from.

 
“Many of them, this was a step up from where they were living in Europe.” Said Morin,  “They might have been fleeing intense poverty, droughts, religious persecution, and even though we look at coal mining as a very difficult way of  life for many people it was a benefit.”

    The history is a big draw for out-of-towners currently visiting the area.
    Especially places like Eckley Miner’s Village that preserve the past.

 

“My father was a coal miner.  We’ve been here a couple times just to see how hard he worked in the mines.”

Another interesting fact about the patch towns — like Eckley Miner’s Village — is that the yards were larger in order for the miners to grow their food because they couldn’t afford to buy it at the company stores.
 

    If you would like to learn more about the mining history check out these sites:

Eckley Miner’s Village

Sophia Coxe House

Lackawanna County Mine Tour

PA Anthracite Heritage Museum

Visit PA Website