Eckley Miners' Village abuzz with activities
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Members of the Eckley Players recreate life during the 1850-1900 period at Eckley Miners' Village during Patch Town Days.
Celebrate the music, dance, food and lifestyle in a reenactment of a 19th-century anthracite community at Patch Town Days at Eckley Miners' Village on June 16 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Eckley Miners' Village, a patch town surrounded by coalfields not far from Weatherly and Hazelton, was home to upwards of 1500 miners and their families. The village was founded to support deep mining operations that started in the early 1850s and after peaking at the turn-of-the-century, soon became obsolete with the introduction of strip mining.
Patch Town Days features a schedule of presentations in the historic village. On Saturday there will be an Antique Car Show.
On Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., an organist will be playing in the Episcopal Church, and there will be Dr. Kelly's Old Time Medicine Show, Eckley Re-enactors throughout the village, and songs by The Breaker Boys-Kent Courtney, Dave Matskino and Steve Stanislow.
The program for Saturday, June 16, on Stage in the Village:
12:00 - 12:30 Kent Courtney, Music from the Mines
1:00 - 1:30 Emerald Step Dancers
1:30 - 2:00 Stan Stanislaw/Jerry Sweeny
2:00 - 3:00 Portraits of Eckley, performed by the Eckley Players
3:00 - 3:30 Kent Courtney, Music from the Mines
3:30 - 4:00 Dave Matsinko, Old Time Appalachian Folk Music
On Sunday, at 1:30 p.m., there will be a musical service at St. James Episcopal Church by St. John's United Church of Christ.
Scheduled on Stage in the Village Sunday:
1:00 - 1:30 Steve Stanislaw,
1:30 - 2:00 Rosaleen McGill
2:15 - 3:00 Portraits of Eckley, performed by the Eckley Players
3:00 - 3:30 Kent Courtney, Music from the Coal Mines
3:30 - 4:00 Dave Matskino, Old time Appalachian Folk Music
When they are not performing Portraits of Eckley, the Eckley Players, a troop of about 30 players dressed in period outfits from 1853 to the turn of the century, 1900, are on the streets, talking to people about their character.
"I do Mother Jones, Mary Harris, a leader of the labor movement," said Karen Esak, programs coordinator Patch Town Days. "Mother Jones helped John Mitchell organize the local unions. She went into the mines and talk to the workers."
"The basic reason for Patch Town Days is to keep tradition. We try to keep it around the 1800s to 1900s, even though this patch town was open until 1968."
In 1968, Paramount Studios converted Eckley into a set for the Mollie Maguire film. The village was later turned into a Mining Museum under the control of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
"Today, Eckley Miners' Village is a quiet and quaint place to spend a day engaged with the past, immersed in the nostalgia of a bygone era," Esak said. "But for about a century, beginning some 150 years ago, it exemplified the clamor and conflict of the anthracite coal industry, which almost singlehandedly fueled the early state of America's industrial revolution.
"Like many other communities founded in Pennsylvania in the nineteenth century, it was a company-owned town. Along with these other communities, Eckley village was considered a 'patch town' which attracted immigrants from many Western and Eastern European nations, between the mid-nineteenth through the twentieth centuries."
During the Patch Town Days celebration, the museum will be open as will be all the houses in the village, including the 1854 Gothic Revival home build for Richard Sharpe, one of the founding partners of the village and mine operations. At various locations there will be a variety of crafters: quilters, a seamstress, a cobbler and the blacksmith. Several renovated buildings will be open including for the first time the general store.
"Patch Town Days is so much fun,"Esak said. "We put quilts out of the windows. We dress the homes up the way they were at the time. The village is normally pretty quiet, only 21 people live there in 10 occupied houses plus several chickens and Guinea hens that roam the acreage, but during Patch Town Days, there's all kinds of activity and a lot of people on the street."
Eckley Miners' Village is at 2 Eckley Main Street in Weatherly, PA. For information, see: www.eckleyminersvillagemuseum.com, or call (570) 636-2070. An admission is charged for the event.