Coal Mine Tour: Ashland, PA

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Coal Mine Tour: Ashland, PA

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The coal mine tour in Ashland, Pennsylvania was a very entertaining ride into the mountainside that our family really enjoyed.

Ashland’s coal mine operated from 1911 to 1931 and like many of the anthracite mines in the area was abandoned for the pursuit of larger veins of coal (anthracite). In the 1960s, it was opened back up for public access.

The coal mine tour takes you on a rail mining car ride 1800 feet into the Pioneer Tunnel. The temperatures are a cool 55 degrees…so bring a jacket. They have lots of loaner jackets for those that forgot them (like us).

Pioneer Tunnel Entrance
Pioneer Tunnel Entrance

Our tour guide was a real miner and told us some great stories about mining, the tools, and the life of a miner. As a child, he would earn several dollars just by producing a bucket of anthracite…and from there he was hooked. He also shared stories about mining dangers and the several friends and family members that he lost to black lung.

You have the opportunity to get out of the rail car and walk around some other areas of the mine shaft. The tour is short in duration (30-40 minutes), but was well worth the trip. It was also neat to look at the map and see just how far into the mountain we had gone.

Pioneer Tunnel - Ashland, PA
Pioneer Tunnel – Ashland, PA
Ashland, PA - Coal Mining Tour
Ashland, PA – Coal Mining Tour

Check out the Pioneer Tunnel website for tour hours and more information.

Because the Ashland coal mine tour was a long day trip from home (>2 hours), I looked into other attractions in the area and decided to drive to Centralia, PA and the Yuengling factory tour in Pottsville to make a full day of it.

Centralia, Pennsylvania was a town formed in the coal mining booms in the mid-1800s. It gained fame in the 1980s when its underground mine fire forced the evacuation and ultimately turned Centralia into the ghost town it is today.

The mine fire apparently started in 1962 when the landfill trash burned in an old strip mine pit and sparked an existing coal vein. Noxious gases, boiling groundwater, and massive sinkholes eventually forced the government to take action and led to the towns complete abandonment. Today it is only marked by some warning signs, earthen berms, and abandoned streets of a town that once was. The entertainment value is not nearly as high as the mining tour…but worth the 20 minute detour!

Centralia, PA:  Mine Fire Warning Sign
Centralia, PA: Mine Fire Warning Sign

The Yuengling Tour was one of those gambles that turned out to be a trip highlight! At the time, our family consisted of one infrequent beer drinker (me), one non-beer-drinker (my wife), and 4 little boys that were a long way off and needn’t be encouraged to drink beer. That being said, the tour was great for all ages, and I’d highly recommend it for beer drinkers and non-drinkers, alike!

Yuengling has a great American story and is the U.S.’s oldest brewery (1829). Since the late 1990s, Yuengling’s popularity has skyrocketed and their lager has gone from a local Pennsylvania favorite to a multi-brewery distributed beer across the world. The tour takes you through the original and still operating brewery in Pottsville. If you attend Monday to Friday, you can actually watch them mix the water, malted barely, and hops…all the way to the bottled finish product! You’ll also get to see the original cold storage caves. And best of all…you’ll get to relax in the Rathskellar, Yuengling’s very own barroom, to sample some of their tasty products. They have soda for kids and those that don’t want a beer.

The Yuengling brewery tour was a lot of fun, and had more entertainment value than I was expecting for a family day trip. I was glad that we visited it on a weekday, as the crowds were light and the brewery was in operation. Check out the Yuengling website for tour times and information.

If you live in eastern Pennsylvania, or are visiting the area for any length of time, take the Ashland coal mine tour and visit these neat, little mining towns – they have a lot of great stories and history to offer, and they’re just a short car drive away!