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Underwood Mine

Construction of the Underwood Colliery served by the Erie Railroad began in 1912. The breaker was constructed from 1913 to 1914. The Colliery, located on the Throop-Olyphant border went into production April 28, 1914. At this time the boiler plant, no. 1 shaft engine house and other necessary buildings were completed. In 1915 a rock slope 7 feet tall by 15 feet wide on the southern end of the property was constructed to haul waste rock and slate out of the mine, up a tipple and to the rock bank. Also in 1915 a washhouse for employees and a store house were constucted of steel and galvinized iron. The Pennsylvania Coal Co also built the Underwood Village at this time. Here lived most of the men and their families that worked at the mine. At the village was the mine bosses house, the company store, school and the hoist house and fan house for the No. 3 shaft. The Colliery was equipped with two 14 foot steam powered Jeffery fans that turned 60 RPMs at the No. 2 and 3 shafts. This provided 80,000 cubic feet of air per minute to the working faces of the mine. At this time there were 207 men employed both inside the mine and at the colliery. In the Clark vein a motor barn of concrete and brick construction was built to facilitate repairs of mine cars and mine motors without the task of hauling them to the surface. In 1918, an office building was errected. It was for use by the Superintendent, Outside Foreman and Colliery Clerk. A Mine Foremans office, Clerks office and Hospital were also constructed at the foot of the Rock Slope in the Clark Vein. A hospital and Mine Foremans office was also constructed at the foot of the No. 3 shaft in the Pittston and Rock veins. One Scranton centrifugal pump was installed at the lower end of the property to discharge water to the surface. Up by the breaker and the No. 1 shaft pumps were located at the Dunmore No. 2 vein pumping water up to a drainage ditch from the Lowest level in the mine, the Dunmore No. 3 vein. There was an underground sump that the the pumps drew their water from in the Dunmore No 3 vein (The deepest mined by the underwood). The water then followed a 1 mile course through a series of ditches in the Dunmore No 2 vein until it reached the Underwood Drainage Tunnel (or Pennsylvania Tunnel). This Tunnel Then proceded almost 2 miles under present day Marywood University to drain into the Lackawanna River. The mine served the Following veins of coal. Rock vein (108) inches, Pittston (72 inches), Marcy (81 inches), Clark (84 inches), Dunmore No. 2 (52 inches), and No. 3 Dunmore (50 inches). Coal Mined from the near-by Eddy Tunnel was taken to the Underwood Colliery for processing. This mine served the Dunmore No. 2 and 3 veins of coal and opened in 1921. The Underwood Colliery had an interesting list of ownership. The colliery was built by the Pennsylvania Coal Co. In 1930 The Colliery was sold to the Pittston Coal Co. Who sold it back to the PCC in 1938 who operated it until its final closing in 1953. In 1954 the breaker remained closed but the Village Slope Coal Co. took over operation of the Rock Slope using it to haul coal. The breaker would remain closed but its coal bins were used as retail pockets to hold the coal for shipping. The coal was transported by rail to the Pompey, Waddell and Moosic Mountain breakers for processing. Although Village Slope Coal operated the mine the PCC still performed maintnence on it. In 1963 when the Rock Slopes relativly small veins of coal were depleted to the point where it was no longer a cost effective operation, the mine was closed forever. There was considerable strip mining by the Can S and Turnpike Coal Co. on the west end of the property in 1965 and 66. The famous 200 foot tall smoke stack from the boiler house was demolished in 1993 despite huge support from the community to save it. The concrete breaker coal pockets and foundation, boiler house, door thickener and other smaller buildings have already met this fate. Never the less considerable remains of the colliery can still be seen, although are probably soon doomed by an ever closer growing industrial park. Foundations to the supply house, office, machine shop, sand house, courthouse, garage and rock slope engine house still remains. The manway entrance and rock slope entrance are still visable also. The DL&W, Erie, Eddy Tunnel narrow gauge bed and the road that ran throught the colliery can still be traced through the woods and are frequented by off roaders and hunters.

When we first met the Breaker Boys while offroading, they told us about a grate in Throop near the Eddy Tunnel. They explained that there were also a few smaller mines scattered around the area. Forgetting about the grate for awhile, we continued to explore all the smaller mines first, not realizing they had found one of the largest mines between Scranton and Carbondale. One day when we were hanging out with the Boys, we asked them to show us the location of the grate. As we headed towards our destination, I knew exactly where we were going: the old Underwood Colliery. Andy and I looked all over the remains of the colliery and found only old concrete foundations and occasional railroad tracks. When they showed us the grate, we knew we had found the big one. We thought it was just a vent shaft with it being so small. Actually this was the manway entrance that the workers would go in so they would not be on the tracks while cars were coming in and out. The slope of this mine goes down two levels through solid rock passing the Dunmore #2 and #3 beds. At the foot of the slope you come to the Clark bed. This is where we found the best part of this mine in our opinon: the motor barn. There is a four foot vein of coal in the second level and the motor barn. A room in the motor barn contains a twelve foot high ceiling, a winch, workbenches, lockers, and a pit between the rails to work underneath the cars. This is where they worked on the electric mine motors that hauled the coal cars around in the mine. There are many tunnels that go in multiple directions but almost all are impassable from the rockfalls. Through one of the passable tunnels you can still see where the foot of the No.2 Shaft is. The gates that blocked the shaft when the cage was up can still be seen half swung out of the fill that was dumped down the shaft. This was a supply and air shaft and only used for workers and no mine cars traveled in it. There is a manway that connects down to the next level near the shaft landing. There is a large rockfall at the bottom of the manway and the top is in very bad shape in the third level, or the Dunmore No.2 bed. On the way out, we decided to venture into the first levels. On the right side of the gangway there is still a coal chute in excellent condition. On the left side of the main gangway in the first level, the vein of coal slopes downwards toward the main slope. The vein passes about 15 feet above the slope where there is a hole in which the coal was dropped from the first level into awaiting cars on the slope. In the above picture you can see the manway entrance that we went in just above the main slope entrance that has been sealed.

- Chris Murley

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© 2005 Underground Miners