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Anthracite Mining of Northeast Pennsylvania. Table of Contents. Pennsylvania Anthracite Mining Two coal types of Pennsylvania Bituminous (western PA) Anthracite (eastern PA) Distribution Map of PA Demonstrates the separation of coal pockets Anthracite Miners Photographs Documents Data

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table of contents
Table of Contents

Pennsylvania Anthracite Mining

  • Two coal types of Pennsylvania
    • Bituminous (western PA)
    • Anthracite (eastern PA)
  • Distribution Map of PA
    • Demonstrates the separation of coal pockets
  • Anthracite Miners
    • Photographs
    • Documents
    • Data
    • Political Cartoons
    • Posters
    • Miner Songs
    • Maps
    • Video
  • Mining Today
    • Anthracite Mining Today
  • Bibliography
the two coals of pa
Pennsylvania was known for its production of coal. Western Pennsylvania produced mostly bituminous coal and eastern Pennsylvania produced anthracite coal. The production of anthracite coal made mining a popular occupation in cities like Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, and Jim Thorpe in the early to mid 1900’s.

Anthracite contains 86-97% carbon, and generally has a heating value slightly higher than bituminous coal.  It accounts for less than 0.5% of the coal mined in the United States. 

All of the anthracite mines in the United States are located in northeastern Pennsylvania. 

Bituminous coal contains 45-86% carbon. Bituminous coal was formed under high heat and pressure. Bituminous coal in the United States is between 100 to 300 million years old. It is the most abundant rank of coal found in the United States, accounting for about half of U.S. coal production. Bituminous coal is used to generate electricity and is an important fuel and raw material for the steel and iron industries. 

Source of information and picture::

The Two Coals of PA

This is a map of Pennsylvania. Western PA produces bituminous coal which as you can see by the map is in more of an abundance. Anthracite coal is produced mostly in eastern PA and is mostly in smaller pockets. Use the NARA map worksheet to complete this activity. Click on the map to access the origin.



  • Miners in northeast PA would work in coal breakers. This was a building that would break the coal into different sizes. The coal was broken so that it would fit the need it was made for such as large furnaces or small stoves.
  • Click on photograph analysis worksheet to complete the information you observe in the photograph. Click on the picture to take you directly to the website of its origin.

Credit: Photo by John Horgan, Jr./PHMC Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums/Anthracite Heritage Museum Anthracite was cleaned and separated into various sizes for market at 'picking tables' like this one at a coal breaker in Luzerne County.


Miners worked hard every day. You can see that they even got a little dirty. Click on the photograph to see an enlarged copy. Then list 5 observations you notice about the men's work attire.



This photo shows children in two different environments. Use the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the how children worked in the mines in the early 1900’s and were later in school in this 1930’s photo.

Credit Photo 1:

Credit Photo 2:,brum,detr,swann,look,gottscho,pan,horyd,genthe,var,cai,cd,hh,yan,lomax,ils,prok,brhc,nclc,matpc,iucpub,tgmi,lamb,hec,krb

pennsylvania anthracite report document of 1902
Pennsylvania Anthracite Report Document of 1902
  • This document is from 1902. The year of the Coal Strike. It outlines the total number of tons of coal mined and shipped, number of employees, and number of employees killed and injured. Click the document to take you to its source. Then create a bar graph for the first 5 districts. Then chart the information above.


miner s death certificate
Miner’s Death Certificate

This is a death certificate from the Department of Health. The man was a miner from Throop, PA. Observe the information they entered for this miner died.



This was a political cartoon that demonstrated the power the coal barons had over the government. They tried to stop the strikes of miners. The largest organized strike by the miners was in 1902.

Use the cartoon NARA worksheet to complete this task.



This poster is showing a miner with Pennsylvania written on the bottom is by Isadore Posoff. It was created in 1936-37. The artist uses a miner to show the significance coal mining had throughout the state. Click on the poster to access the website the of the source.

Use the poster analysis sheet to evaluate the Pennsylvania poster.


mining songs
Mining Songs

This song details the events in the first anthracite mining disaster in 1869. Avondale, like other early collieries, was built with only one outlet, a shaft that led to the breaker above. When a fire started in this shaft, the miners working below had no chance to escape. As a result, 110 men and boys lost their lives. A ballad appeared soon after the disaster and it sold hundreds of copies in the popular form of the penny broadside, so called because it was a written song version sold for a penny. For 25 years after the tragedy, this ballad was the most popular anthracite song. It spread far beyond the anthracite region and has been found by folk song collectors as far away as Newfoundland in northern Canada. Credit: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Click on this link to access the song recording. Then complete a NARA worksheet highlighting the aspects of the recording.


coal field map pottsville pa
Coal Field Map – Pottsville, PA

Very large and detailed map of the coal fields around Pottsville, Pennsylvania. This must be one of the earliest maps of this type, and we can find no record of it. Watson's Lithography produced other coal maps during this period, and this is earlier than any that were listed. This is an unusual thematic map showing coal deposits and ownership. Source: David Rumsey Map Collection

Click on this link to take you to the Anthracite Map. Use the zoom features to explore the anthracite coal fields around Pottsville, PA.

anthracite documentary
Anthracite Documentary

Below are links to three short documentaries about Anthracite coal mining history in Northeast Pennsylvania. This footage was filmed in a coal mine.  

Video Part 1 – 1700’s-1890’s

Video Part 2 – 1890’s-1920’s

Video Part 3 – 1930’s-2008

After viewing the video’s click on this link to access the NARA motion picture analysis worksheet and complete.

anthracite coal today reading coal company
Anthracite Coal Today – Reading Coal Company

Anthracite coal is a core energy, carbon, and media solution to regional and national manufacturing industries, waste treatment & water filtration plants, and heating solutions for residential, commercial and institutional needs.

The Reading Anthracite Company fuels the regional economy by providing hundreds of jobs directly and indirectly. Electricity and coal produced in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania is Schuylkill County's single largest export and this energy industry represents the backbone of this region's rail infrastructure. Schuylkill County's power generation plants provide power annually to every home in this county and most of Berks County. This power is provided to over 400,000 people and over 165,000 homes. Credit: Reading Anthracite

Photo source:

anthracite coal today reading coal company1
Anthracite Coal Today – Reading Coal Company

Coal Mining & Land Reclamation

At the Reading Anthracite Company, reclamation plans are developed in conjunction with detailed engineering during the initial planning stages.

Areas reclaimed are restored to their original contour and the beneficial results have included conversions to:

Recreation parks

Housing Developments

Retail centers

Wildlife sanctuaries

Natural forest and geographically native covered terrain

The reclaimed land becomes productive, attractive and useful,

representing Reading Anthracite Company's continuing commitment

to responsible environmental stewardship.

The most recent example of a reclaimed mine site is

Coal Creek Commerce Center, a thriving retail development

project located in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Credit: Reading Anthracite

Photo source: