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Celebrating coal region history

  • Andrew Leibenguth/times news One of the event's focal points of Sunday's Coal Miner's Heritage Festival will be an antique 1948 green "White Palm" coal delivery truck, with less than 40,000 miles, owned by Keller Coal and Oil Company of Northampton…
    Andrew Leibenguth/times news One of the event's focal points of Sunday's Coal Miner's Heritage Festival will be an antique 1948 green "White Palm" coal delivery truck, with less than 40,000 miles, owned by Keller Coal and Oil Company of Northampton. Pictured are truck and Keller Coal co-owners Steve Keller and Frank Keller Jr. Not pictured are co-owners Ed Keller and Kathy Bartholomew.
Published July 10. 2010 09:00AM

The third annual Coal Miner's Heritage Festival, a celebration of coal region history, culture, is set for tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the grounds of the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford.

The event has drawn about 5,000 visitors each year and is presented by the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum. Admission to the festival is free.

Underground tours of the No. 9 Coal Mine, which last about 45 minutes, will be available throughout the day. Visitors will ride into the mine in the safety of mine cars that are pulled by an original mine motor or engine.

The nearby No. 9 Coal Mining Museum, housed in the original 1920s era miner's wash shanty, houses one of the largest and finest collections of anthracite coal mining artifacts, tools, photographs and memorabilia anywhere in the coal fields. Admission is charged for the coal mine and museum tour.

The first 200 visitors to purchase tickets for any of the first five scheduled mine tours that morning will receive half price admission sponsored by the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. The D&L Corridor, a proud supporter of No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum, will also have a display booth and literature available at the festival.

Many unique attractions and exhibits are featured at the festival. In keeping with the theme, the coal miner's competition and demonstrations will be educational as well as fun.

The public is invited to participate in the coal shoveling competition where competitors shovel a half ton of coal in the shortest time. In past years, this had been a very competitive event drawing numerous competitors. Unique trophies will be awarded to the winners.

Other miner's demonstrations include mine timbering, debarking, coal cracking, and blacksmithing.

Visitors always enjoy posing for photos by historic mine lokie No. 51, once owned and operated by Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company in the Panther Creek Valley. The lokie has been cosmetically restored by volunteers at No. 9 and is proudly displayed on the grounds outside the museum.

Exhibitors and vendors will fill the grounds surrounding the museum, offering a large variety of homemade and traditional crafts and sale items, coal region T-shirts and souvenirs, coal region artwork, local history books signed by authors, hand crafted jewelry, reproductions of coal region maps and photographs, photo restoration and reprints, reproduction vintage signs, cast iron toys, stained glass creations, wood crafts, rocks, minerals and fossils, wooden whirligigs, coal souvenirs, music on CDs and tapes and more.

Local artist Renee Novak will feature a life-size paint on canvas titled 'Anthrasight' which will be displayed on the side of the loading platform near the mine entrance.

Joseph Evanousky will display his original works and prints done in charcoal, pen and ink, and Tom Williams and Joe Matukonis will display and sell their photography.

The private exhibits feature coal region ethnic and cultural memorabilia, local history memorabilia from the Lansford area, a display of antique coal company signs from the region, a large collection of antique beer trays advertising small town breweries in eastern Pa., WWI Coal advertising posters, coal mining and railroad artifacts and station signs from well-known coal towns in the region.

There will also be Molly Maguire memorabilia, and an exhibit on 19th century funeral practices in the region, a beautifully restored 1930s antique coal delivery truck from Heller Brothers on Northampton, a 1929 huckster truck, a 1933 Plymouth replica Coal and Iron Police car, a 1949 Chevrolet pickup truck selling bagged coal, Mine Safety and Rescue displays, a restored vintage mine train, an antique moonshine still, antique cloths washing devices, and an antique miners bathtub display.

The Victorian Hi-wheelers will ride their vintage bicycles and perform during the day.

A variety of music typically found in the coal region will be featured throughout the day including a live broadcast of the WMGH Polka Joe Manjack show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors will be able to dance to the polka music in the parking lot if they would like.

Also featured will be the ever popular 'Breaker Boys' singing and performing coal region folk songs during the day, old time fiddle music will be provided by Paul Riffon from 1 to 5 p.m., and DJ Shawn will be playing the best of mining, railroad, bluegrass and polka music all day.

An old time air powered calliope mounted on a truck will play unique music from the 20s and 30s from 11 to 2 p.m.

Reenactors from the Eckley Players will stroll the grounds in their authentic 'patch town' outfits, performing skits, telling stories, and sharing tales throughout the day.

A visit by famed early 20th century labor organizer "Mother Jones" is also planned.

A wide array of homemade, coal region, ethnic foods and festival favorites will be featured for sale including halushki, pierogies, potato pancakes, open pit chicken BBQ, a pig roast, turkey fingers, fried vegetables, sweet potato fries, french fries, funnel cake, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, fresh lemonade, sno-cones, homemade fudge and chocolates, fresh strawberry shortcake, waffles and ice cream, soft pretzels and more.

A variety of children's entertainment will be offered including the popular old time coal sack races with prizes for the winners. Buster the Clown will be making balloon animals for the children. Other offerings include a golf game, balloon pop game, EGW Wrestling games, face painting, creating sand art, and a moon bounce.

Numerous organizations and agencies from throughout the coal region have already signed up to participate in this unique coal region celebration with exhibits and informational booths. Among them are the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, DEP Mine Safety and Rescue Unit, Holmes Mine Safety Assn., Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, the National Canal Museum, Eckley Miners Village, Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad, Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau, Mauch Chunk Lake Park, Lansford Rotary, Lansford Historical Society, Lansford Alive, Summit Hill Community Organization. Underground Miners Association and the Old Forge Coal Mine Project.

The Miller-Keystone Blood Mobile will also be on hand allowing visitors to donate much needed blood while they visit the festival. The public is encouraged to help out during this important time.

The Coal Miners Heritage Festival is sponsored in part by a grant from the Carbon County Commissioners through the County Room Tax Fund.

To register as a participant, contact Dale Freudenberger, event coordinator, at or by phone at (610) 377-4063.

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