Mining occurred at the site of the Harry E Colliery as far back as the 1880s, and several breakers have stood on that ground over the years. Early coal operators include the Wyoming Valley Coal Company (J.H. Swoyer, operator), the Forty Fort Coal Company and eventually it came under control of the Louis Pagnotti company. It remained in this ownership until its closing in the 1970s and destruction in 1995.
The newest breaker at the site was built in 1942 and received coal from the Harry E and Forty Fort Mines. It was a small, yet modern breaker featuring four Menzie Cone Separators. The most familiar aspect of this breaker was the crisscrossing conveyors that spanned across Main Street in Swoyersville. Rock was delivered to the bank by a conveyor originating at the base of the building. There were loading boom conveyors below the coal pockets to deliver coal into waiting railroad cars minimizing breakage of the product.
In the early nineties, after the breaker had been closed for years, the flow of the machinery inside the breaker was nearly complete. The path the coal would take through the various decks of shakers, set of rolls and cones could be traced from the conveyor dump at the top to the pockets at the bottom. The breaker was destroyed by explosives on Good Friday, April 14, 1995. Officials on the site attempted to remove spectators by announcing that the wind direction had changed and the demolition was cancelled. A short while later at 12:34 the breaker was brought to its knees.
Contributors: John Pagoda
Photos before and during demolition in 1995. Photos from John Pagoda and Eric Bella.
Our photos from the early 2000s showing the hoist house.