LANSFORD, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Coal mining is woven into the fabric of NEPA history and an event Sunday in Carbon County celebrates that era with the oldest continuously operated anthracite coal mine in the United States.
Carbon County is in the green phase, allowing for the annual Coal Miner’s Heritage Festival to go on.
“It’s just a fun day for celebrating a lot of the coal region traditions,” organizer Dale Freudenberger said.
Held at the No. 9 Mine and Museum, the event attracts hundreds of people each year. This year, organizers say they’re conscious of the attendance count and have precautions in place.
“We are following the governor’s restrictions for today and doing the best we can, practicing social distancing, asking people to wear a mask, etc,” Freudenberger said.
Organizers tell Eyewitness News it is important for people to learn about mining history in the region.
The anthracite region’s history is very, very unique. It’s a very ethnically diverse region centered around one special industry,” Panther Creek Valley Foundation president Zachary Petroski said.
Walking through the festival, you’ll find a variety of coal region ethnic food and historical displays. You can also go on a tour of the mine and check out the museum. You might even see people walking around dressed as miners of the 19th century, like Tommy Symons. Symons says this festival hits close to home because it represents his family’s history. In fact, he is the first generation not to work in the mines.
“My ancestors did it. And I want the kids that are growing up to know, and not only the kids, but a lot of adults don’t realize how much the anthracite region meant to the rest of the United States,” Symons said.
If you keep on going every day, you’ll get to learn more and then you’ll start to understand it,” London Haley of Connecticut said.
The No. 9 Mine operated for 113 years and is also the oldest coal mine you can tour at 165 years.