The original Pioneer Colliery was operated along Mahanoy Mountain in Ashland during the late 19th century, and gave its name to the Pioneer Tunnel, which was owned and operated by the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company from 1911 to 1931. Pioneer Tunnel was reopened as a mine tour in 1963. The tunnel had collapsed a short distance just past the Orchard Vein, and a short gangway was dug into the vein and 2 chutes driven, with one breaching the surface as an escapeway. The coal mined from these workings would be used for years to fuel the steam train ride. After several successful tourist seasons the collapse was cleared, the tunnel retimbered and new rail laid the full 1800 feet into the mountain! 3 veins of coal can be viewed through several gangways on this tour. In 2006 the UGM crew volunteered for our first timbering job to reopen the original Orchard Gangway. We cleaned out and timbered the 60 foot gangway and one coal chute. This can be seen on your ride in or out of the tunnel. Recently, the Springdale Shaft headframe has been relocated to the site for display. One of the two steam locomotives has been completely overhauled and the second is being examined for overhaul. Pioneer Tunnel should not be missed, as the vast amounts of timber through the mine make it unique to the tour mines available to visit. This, along with the only operational steam lokie in the anthracite make make for an unforgettable experience!
Our photos of the Pioneer Tunnel.
Our photos of the lokie ride.
Photos from Tyler Fenderson of the first lokie overhaul, originally Lehigh Valley Coal Co #123. It was painted in the original scheme before receiving its final Henry Clay colors.