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Coal Mining in Pennsylvania. Dylan Kevech Jamie Finch EGEE 211. The Process of Pennsylvania Coal Mining. • Slope Mine. Coal is too deep to allow surface mining. Coal is parallel to the ground. Called slope mine because shafts are slanted.

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coal mining in pennsylvania

Coal Miningin Pennsylvania

Dylan Kevech

Jamie Finch

EGEE 211


The Process of Pennsylvania Coal Mining

•Slope Mine

  • Coal is too deep to allow surface mining.
  • Coal is parallel to the ground.
  • Called slope mine because shafts are slanted.
  •  Only used when drilling straight down is not possible.
  • Slope mines are not usually deep.

This picture demonstrates a typical slope mine with a shaft that is slanted to reach the coal bed.


Bell Pit

Open Face Mining

  • Used when other mining is impossible.
  • Consists of straight shaft dug by hand.
  • Miners are connected to a rope when in the mine. This rope is also used to hoist miners and coal upwards.
  • Usually very small and shallow. Miners can only mine so much before the ground gives way.
  • When a coal seam breaks through and is visible through the ground.
  • One of the earliest forms of mining.
  • Coal is harvested with picks and shovels.
  • Least dangerous.
  • Small quantities of coal.



Room and Pillar

Long Wall Mining

  • “Rooms” are cut into the coal seam 20ft wide leaving “pillars” in-between the cuts.
  • Much coal is wasted in pillars.
  • Many Irish immigrants were given the dangerous job of robbing the pillars.
  • The pillars prevent much ground subsidence
  • Continuous miner is used. No need for hundreds of real miners
  • Leaves no support behind for coal that has been removed.
  • Major cause of Land subsidence
  • The most popular type of mining in use today.



Evolution of Machinery

  • First tools were a pick and a shovel
  • Coal was drilled, then explosives were inserted into the hole and blasted loose.
  • “First I would drill a line of holes about three feet apart and as deep as the drill bit would go, the one I used was about 4’ long. I would then put in a ½” copper pipe and tamp clay around the pipe leaving a small hole when I pull out the tubing. I always used black blasting powder because if I used dynamite I would have to wait for all about an hour or two, if not it would give you a headache. Blasting powder allowed you to continue working as soon as the smoke cleared and the dust settled. Next I would take the squib, insert it into the hole with the powder packed in. The last thing I would do is scream fire and run as fast as I could. Then the hard work started.”- Frank Kevech Sr.
  • Under cutting machine
  • Electric powered drill.

This picture is an old undercutting machine made by Sullivan used by Frank Kevech Sr.


Old Mining Equipment on my Family’s Farm

Old Mine Cart

Generator Used to Power Equipment


Dangers of Coal Mining

  • Collapse-Roof could Collapse because of poor timbering. Slate could cause the coal face to slide down on top of miners.
  • Mine Fires
    • Centralia- Underground coal mine fire that has been burning for many years. Many attempts to stop the burning have failed.
    • In the Winter months, dry cold air enters the mine and takes the moisture from the dust creating a dangerous coal dust that could catch fire.
  • Flooding
    • The Knox Mine disaster of 1959
    • The Wyoming Valley in Luzerne County
    • Miners went too far towards the Susquehanna River and the river broke through
    • Train and mine cars were tossed into the river to fill the hole. Finally plugged with cement and stopped the water flow.
    • 12 Miners were killed in the accident


Child Labor

  • Children sometimes accompanied their Fathers into the mine to help expedite work and increase production.
  • Young Children were put to work as breaker boys, brattice boys, spraggers, and runners
  • Children were paid very little for their work.
  • Breaker Boys were beaten by breaker bosses.

the environmental impact of coal mining in pennsylvania
The Environmental Impact of Coal Mining in Pennsylvania
  • Longwall mining has caused severe damage especially near my hometown.
  • Loss of water
  • Loss of Homes
  • Destruction of Property

As the longwall machine extracts the coal and moves forward, the machine leaves nothing behind to support the ground.

Therefore the land falls in to fill the void.

  • Resulting in…
  • Loss of water to house
  • Loss of water for farm animals

With this loss people have to resort to using water buffalos. These water buffalos dot the hillsides in mining communities.


Destruction and Loss of Homes

Mining causes homes to subside which causes people to move and relocate from the area in which they grew up.


Destruction of the Land


Mine Reclamation

Mine Companies are supposed to go back after they are all done mining and fix the area so that it is able to be used in the future…

…However, this is not always the case!



  • Interviewed Frank Kevech Sr., Talked about Mining processes and machinery.
  • Wikipedia: The Online Encyclopedia, Coal Mining,
  • Underground Coal Mine Types,
  • Virtual Tour of Coal Mining: Western Pa,
  • Toured Mine 84 in Washington, Pa with Stanley Kevech (photos of active site)
  • Interviewed Scott Finch on the Environmental Effects of Mining
  • The Ten Mile Valley Protection Network
  • The Tri-State Citizens Mining Network

  • http://