Hidden Treasures in Central PA

Last Friday my brother and I dedicated the day to exploring some of his favorite places in central Pennsylvania. The whole area was once booming with activity from the timber and coal industries. As mines have been exhausted and forests deforested, a lot of old infrastructure has been abandoned. These are the places that fire his imagination – relics from the past that are slowly being overtaken by the land they once intruded upon.

First Stop – Mine Exhaust Blower

Abandoned mine exhaust fans at the entrance to a train tunnel

Our first stop was a train tunnel. We drove his old Chevy Nova into a remote neighborhood, parked in the weeds, zipped through a backyard, and slid down a rocky slope to get access to the tracks. After a walk through the train tunnel (always an unnerving experience) we came to this abandoned blower equipment at the other side.

I’d love to know more about the history of this place. The train tunnel clearly intersected with a coal mine at some point. I would guess that the train tunnel was originally dug to blow fresh air into the mine tunnels and allow coal to be hauled out. Eventually the mine was abandoned and the tunnel expanded into a train tunnel.

Colin in front of one of the blowers

All that’s left now are these giant fans rusting and rotting by the tracks. Inside the tunnel we could see a brick wall sealing up the old mine.

Second Stop – Coal Processing Facility

Abandoned coal processing facility. The structure on the right houses a long conveyor belt stretching up from the (now flooded) mine.

Although our departure from the tracks was watched by a shirtless, beer-drinking neighborhood resident, no-one complained and we drove on to the next stop. This sort of exploration demands discretion as most locations are on provate property and liberally sprinkled with No Trespassing signs. Our next stop was an abandoned 10-story coal processing facility rotting away right next to a new strip-mining operation. It’s the kind of place that is hard to hide, making it less likely that you’ll be the only one visiting at any given time. So it’s always best to park far enough away to not attract attention, and keep your ears open when exploring.

Equipment on the ground floor. Some sort of machine repair shop?

We started by poking around on the ground floor. more detail to come later…

Third Stop – The Quarry

Abandoned Quarry

Fourth Stop – The Road to Centralia

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