By Andy McAllister, Watershed Coordinator
With Halloween just around the corner, abandoned mine workings once again become a dangerous magnet to those seeking thrills. Abandoned shafts and tunnels and dilapidated mining structures, all-too-common occurrences in our mining communities, continue to haunt our landscape and draw the curious. However, there are alternatives for the curious–Tourist Mines. As operations declined and the coal mines began to close in the mid to late 20th century, preservationists and mine owners alike began to see the mines in a different light and Pennsylvania’s tourist mines were born.
Western Pennsylvania is home to two tourist mines. The Tour-Ed Mine in Tarentum, just north of Pittsburgh and the Seldom Seen Mine in Patton, PA in Cambria County offer the public safer ways to experience an old coal mine while preserving an important part of our industrial heritage.
The earliest record of mining activity at the site of Tour-Ed Mine was in 1850. Known in the 20th century as the Avenue Mine, it was operated by Allegheny Steel and mined by the Leechburg Mining Company. The coal extracted during this period was used at the Allegheny Steel plant in nearby Brackenridge. The Tour-Ed mine has been run as a tourist mine since 1968.
In Patton, PA the Chest Creek Mine No. 1, once known as Miller Run No.8 when it opened in 1939, is now known as “The Seldom Seen Mine” . The Seldom Seen Mine has been a tourist mine since the close of its production in 1963.
For visitors in the Anthracite region, a trio of tourist mines in Eastern Pennsylvania also helps to educate crowds of the curious while preserving the past:
Pioneer Tunnel and Coal Mine , Ashland, PA
The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, Scranton, PA
The No. 9 Mine, Lansford, PA
Click here to check out the 2007 video clip of WQED’s “Dave and Dave” program featuring Tour-Ed Mine’s “Haunted Mine” attraction that runs throughout the month of October.