Diamond No 15 Slope

Located on Scranton’s west side in the Tripp’s Park section lies the remains of the Diamond collieries Number 15 slope. The site was a remote location as it had no breaker of it’s own. Instead a branch was constructed off the DL&W railroads Keyser valley branch. Anthracite was brought to the surface, and run up a tipple where the mine cars would spill there contents into waiting railroad cars. The loaded cars would then be brought to various Glen Alden breakers located throughout the area. The development of the No. 15 slope complex can be traced to a period between 1926 and 1929. It consisted of a slope that extended to the Dunmore Number 1 vein. Intersecting the Four foot, Diamond, Rock, Big, New county, Clark, and finally the Dunmore number one.

Elevations where slope intersected with various veins: ( elevations above sea level)

  • Four foot + 772
  • Diamond + 739
  • Top Rock + 675
  • Bottom Rock +664
  • Big +605
  • Top New County +567
  • Clark +441

It had a hoist house, wash house, garage, dynamite shack, and also an air shaft fashioned out of typical Glen Alden poured concrete that provided the Clark vein with fresh air. It bordered the Pine Brook mine on the south east, Hampton on the south west, the Brisbin on the northeast, and to the outcrop on the west mountain on the north west.

The Diamond colliery at its height produced 685,000 tons per year, and employed over 1500 people, with the Number 15 slope employing over 200. In the beginning of 1932 a wild cat strike was called. It was headed by Frank Shuster ( see Lehman 179). Glen Alden decided that the Diamond was considered a high cost operation, and ceased active mining. Number 15 slope was closed. It sat silent until on August 1, 1935 Monarch coal company leased the Diamond operation, including the 15 slope. Monarch was owned by the Dickson and Eddy company ( see Eddy Tunnel). Dickson and Eddy company had various holdings in the area. Including the Price Pan coast, and the west End coal company. Monarch immediately reopened the number 15 slope. This is where mining was concentrated. Monarch mined in typical fashion of the times. Causing numerous subsidence’s in the Tripp Park area as they mined the uppermost veins first. Even disturbing graves in the Cathedral cemetery. Causing coffins to be unearthed.

Production continued uninterrupted until a squeeze in the Diamond bed caused the slope to collapse where it intersected with that vein. Also at this time a weakening market led to an un winnable price war in the anthracite region. Monarch coal company shut the 15 slope on August 1 1939. On August 25 1939 Monarch was placed into receivership. The creditors decided to liquidate its holdings. This was a breach of the contract with the Glen Alden , which cancelled the lease. Finally on November 25, 1939 Glen Alden removed all equipment. This led to the demolition of the original hoist house, and tipple. The pumps were still operated, as a cooperative agreement between the coal companies in the area. So as not to flood the active mines . Although the pumps at No 2 shaft. were pulled to an elevation of +405. Basically flooding the Dunmore veins below the Clark.

Glen Alden abandoned operations in Lackawanna county by the mid 1940’s.Finally selling its Lackawanna land and anthracite reserves to the Moffat coal company in 1953. Moffat in turn sold the Diamond property to the newly formed Diamond colliery company in June of 1956 Headed by Luzerne county resident Joseph Giovannani.

Its officers were:

  • Joseph Giovannani – President. Mr Giovannani had experience with mining in Luzerne county. And also drove various slopes and rock tunnels. This is how he became acquainted with the Moffat family.
  • Charles Pompey – Vice president. Mr. Pompey owned the Pompey coal company in the Archabald area, which included one of the few active breakers in the area.
  • Frank Anastasio- Treasurer
  • Frank L. Pinola- Luzerne County Judge.

Immediately work began to refurbish the no. 15 slope complex. A railroad spur was rebuilt from the Keyser Valley branch, and a tipple constructed. As mentioned previously the hoisting equipment was removed by Glen Alden in 1939. In the process the original hoist house was demolished to remove this equipment. So a new hoist and hoist house were constructed. A garage was also built. But the most important work was done underground. The squeeze of 1939 at the intersection with the Diamond bed was cleared and the area re timbered. As mining was to be concentrated in the Clark vein below it. Huge blocks of anthracite were left un mined in the Clark, in an area adjacent to the near by Erie Lackawanna Keyser Valley shops. Also included in the sale by Moffat was a portion of the adjoining Brisbin colliery. As blocks of anthracite in the form of shaft pillars were accessible. ( the area around the shaft were left un mined to maintain the integrity of the shaft itself) this shaft had been filled in 1940 as a result of the new mine closure law of 1940. At the time of the sale it was estimated the Diamond property contained 15,000,000 tons of anthracite. However only one fifth of that estimate was considered minable. As a condition of the sale operation and maintenance of the pumps was to be assumed. The pumps had a capacity of 10,000 GPM. With 3,000 GPM being average. Employment was around 200 men both above and below ground. Mined anthracite was transported to the Pompey breaker by rail.

Almost immediately complaints were being aired to local government. Subsidence’s were reported. The situation came to a head when in December 1956 a subsidence on Gibson Street, located not far from 15 slope occurred. A gas service was ruptured, leading to the deaths of the homes two occupants. Then during the early hours of January 17, 1957 a detachment of 15 police officers as well as Scranton’s mayor, James Hanlon closed the mine by force. Officers blocked the access road on Dorothy street leading to the mine. They also were posted in front of the actual slope. Local news papers took photo’s of these police men in front of the slope. Steam rising behind them made an eerie photo. All of this caught the only two workers at the mine by surprise. The hoist operator on the surface, and the mine foreman who was in the mine below doing his routine inspection. Imagine his surprise when he arrived at the surface!

A call was placed to Mr. Giovannani almost immediately. He arrived at the scene less than an hour later. He, along with Judge Pinola’s legal expertise charged that the city had no right to close the mine. Mayor Hanlon countered that the company had violated the Koehler act. By mining in a way which caused undue damage to the surface. Also the company violated both state and local law by not filing prints of future mining activities with the city. The city engineer along with residents of Tripp’s Park were escorted into the mine on January 22, 1957. Through this inspection it was determined that the companies only active mining was being carried out in the Clark vein located 500 feet below ground. In an area under undeveloped ground. The subsidence’s including the one that resulted in the deaths on Gibson street were unrelated to mining activities of the Diamond. The mine reopened on January 25th. By 1960 most mining companies had realized that deep mining in the Lackawanna valley was an unprofitable endeavor. Massive pumping operations were being operated at great expense to dewater vast areas that were not being actively mined. These included Hudson coal companies Marvine and Eddy creek collieries., Moffat at Storrs, National, Hampton, and Pyne . Diamond also operated there small pumping operation at No 2 shaft. Early in 1960 Moffat was informed by the Hudson coal company that it would cease its pumping operations on November 1, 1960. With the loss of Hudson’s plant, Moffat would be forced to assume that pumping operation to prevent water from rising, and flooding its operations. This was too much for Moffat. So they to announced they also would be ceasing pumping on November 1st. . This would allow water to rise, flooding the Diamond operation. Due to there relatively small size, and financial position Diamond would not be able to pump the water from the entire valley itself. Even if they could handle the water on there property, the barrier pillar separating the Hampton from the Diamond had a weak point located +435 ft. ( ASL). Fearing that the pressure from the flooded Hampton mine would cause the barrier pillar to fail, mining was abandoned in the most profitable Clark vein. The work force was cut in half to 100 men. Production decreased. Although by 1962 it had resumed its pre 1960 level of over 7,000 tons per year. Production now being concentrated in the New County vein. As the water rose, mining retreated to the next vein above. This continued through 1962. In 1963 the mine was shut so that other veins could be re timbered, no production was carried out during that year. In 1964 a new company was formed, Keyser Valley enterprises. It is not known why. But it can be surmised this was done to shield the original Diamond colliery company from liability due to the active mining being conducted. The Diamond colliery company assumed ownership of only the land above ground. Essentially becoming a real estate company. Production increased to 14,333 tons. Also during this year one of the first flushing projects was to be commenced. This project encompassed Diamond colliery holdings. The area involved centered on the former Tripp shaft/slope area. So the mineral rights were deeded to the city, ultimately paving the way for this project. In 1965 tonnage again increased , 28,240. 1966 was a year that will be remembered for the death of active underground mining in Scranton and Lackawanna county. As mentioned previously the pumping operations had been abandoned in 1960. Mining retreated above the water pool that formed. The demand for anthracite had been decreasing to a point that it was no longer profitable. It was to be the last year that No 15 slope produced. 14,466 tons were mined, but it took 15,100 lbs. of permissible, and 800 lbs of dynamite to mine it. The site was abandoned. By 1971 the hoist house was demolished, and the hoisting equipment sat rusting in a field. Hundreds of mine cars sat on the surface as well. Waiting to be loaded again. A day that would never come. Tools sat rusting in the garage on work benches. In 1974 the mine cars and hoisting equipment were gone, sold for scrap. All that remains today is the partially demolished wash house, the concrete floor of the hoist house, a few scattered mine car remains, and the partially filled air shaft that led to the Clark vein. The slope itself was blown shut, to prevent entry into the workings below. The slope was an interesting feature in the operation. It was sunk during a period when the finances of the companies involved were plentiful. And men took pride in there work. The slope was lined by hand with stone blocks, and the top of the slope with ornamental concrete. Part of which is laying at the bottom of the dynamited slope.

Today there is very little remains at the site. During the Tripp Park and Hawthorne Street flushing project of the early 80’s the culm bank was used as flush material. A new elementary school is built on the site. So it can be assured that any and all remains will be destroyed. The Diamond site will fall victim to progress just as larger sites throughout the northern anthracite field have over the years. Only remembered by those that have the insight to record it for generations to come.

Contributors: Tony Wilson

Early 2000s photos showing the slope, hoist house, and tipple remains.