The earliest mining that occurred at or near the site of the massive Loomis Colliery started in the 1850s with the sinking of the Dundee Shaft, located near the intersection of Middle and Dundee Roads. The mine was quickly abandoned and the engine house sat idle for years because of the strong presence of gas in the mine and the lack of efficient ventilation methods. Interest in the area was rekindled by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad in the early 20th century. At the time they were operating mines on adjoining properties to the Loomis tract, and this particular area contained a rich, un-mined resource of coal.
Ground breaking began at the Loomis Colliery with the sinking of two shafts on August 16, 1909. By 1911 the two shafts had reached the Hillman Vein at a depth of over 900 feet, and the No. 1 Slope was driven 645 feet at 15° to the George Seam. Two 20×7’ Jeffrey, reversible, double intake fans were operable at the surface. Construction of the breaker got underway in 1912 and would not be completed until early 1916.
When completed, the breaker was marveled at by the company for its completeness, permanence and fireproofness. The most striking feature of the structure was the reinforced concrete coal pockets, which occupied the first two levels of the building and the enclosure of glass siding rising from the coal pockets to the top at a height of 169 feet. It measured 125×129 feet at the base and was designed to prepare 3,500 to 4,000 tons of coal per day. Those numbers were expected to be exceeded, however.
By the time the breaker was running, the No. 3 Shaft was sunk adjacent to the DL&W power plant along the Susquehanna River. The No. 4 Shaft was the result of the widening and reconstruction of the original Dundee shaft. At minimum, four ventilating fans provided fresh air to the miles of gangways in the mines.
The breaker closed in 1967 and was demolished in late 1974. The concrete coal pockets of the breaker were torn down a few years ago. Buildings on the site are currently being used as a recycling center, and many of the original brick and concrete buildings remain. Four of the fan houses are still there; one is complete, two are partially complete and the fourth has been disassembled. The tag house has unfortunately been demolished. Only foundations remain of the two shafts and head-frames that once stood 85 feet tall.
Contributors: John Pagoda
Early 1900s photos showing construction of the modern breaker, Bunnell Photos.
Other historic photos from the UGM archive, unknown photographers.
OSM photo around 1970 showing the Loomis with a new shopping complex in the foreground.
Our photos from the 2000s showing the few remaining structures.