The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company was operating mines in the Plymouth and Larksville area as early as 1870 and by 1876 there were five separate mines and breakers. The No. 1 was located near the present site of the Shawnee Concrete on Route 11, the No.2 near the back entrance to the concrete plant on Church Street, the No. 3 on Church Street near the school bus parking lot, the No. 4 at the bottom of Poke Hollow Hill on State and Brown Street, and the original No. 5 near the intersection of Washington Avenue and Vine Street. The Boston Colliery was initially ran by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad but came under control of the D&H in 1880. The mine shaft was located on State Street near the Middlesworth Potato Chip building and the Larksville Borough Building. The first breaker was located on Boston Hill at Route 11 next to Schups Cemetary and the second breaker was built closer to the mine shaft.
Several of these dry preparation, wooden breakers were destroyed by fire during the late 19th century and early 20th and in 1895, the old No. 5 was abandoned and a new shaft sank. A new breaker was built just off of Nesbitt Street. In 1915 this breaker was remodeled to accommodate wet preparation techniques and shortly after began receiving coal from the all D&H mines in Larksville and Plymouth. This represents the complete centralization of D&H mines in the area.
On January 22, 1919 the No. 5 breaker was completely destroyed by fire. At the time the breaker was running full, preparing 4,000 tons per day and the company was faced with the problem of transporting coal from the colliery to another breaker since there were no others located near the No. 5. The decision was made immediately to build a new steel and concrete structure on the same site and the contract was awarded to Bethlehem Fabricators, Inc. The construction process faced numerous problems including removal of the old, still smoldering structure, freezing temperatures, and quicksand-like ground. Despite these problems, the new breaker was completed ahead of schedule in a record-breaking 130 days. It was completely electrical and began operation on June 22, 1919, cleaning 6,000 tons per day. It was renamed the Loree after L.F. Loree, president of the D&H Railroad.
In 1921 the breaker produced 1,590,201 tons of anthracite and in 1926 there were just over 3,000 employees at the colliery. Production declined in the coming decades and the breaker closed in the 1960s. It was used as a fine coal recovery plant in the 1970s by Heavy Media Inc. and was eventually torn down in the fall of 1993. Some rumors indicate that the steel remnants of the building frame were purchased and used by the buyer in the construction of a contemporary structure. The old culm and rock banks at the site are currently being reclaimed. Part of the power plant remains next to the where the breaker once stood. The No. 2 mine shaft is visible from Church Street above Shawnee Concrete. The Dorr Thickeners remain at the bottom of Nesbitt Street and stretches of railroad track lie beneath the dirt visible only when rain washes away their cover.
Contributors: John Pagoda
Photos in the early 1990s before and during demolition, by John Pagoda.
Our photos showing the remains of the site in the early 2000s.