Construction of the Underwood Colliery served by the Erie Railroad began in 1912. The breaker was constructed from 1913 to 1914. The Colliery, located on the Throop-Olyphant border went into production April 28, 1914. At this time the boiler plant, No. 1 shaft engine house and other necessary buildings were completed. In 1915 a rock slope 7 feet tall by 15 feet wide on the southern end of the property was constructed to haul waste rock and slate out of the mine, up a tipple and to the rock bank. Also in 1915 a washhouse for employees and a store house were constructed of steel and galvanized iron. The Pennsylvania Coal Co also built the Underwood Village at this time. Here lived most of the men and their families that worked at the mine. At the village was the mine bosses house, the company store, school and the hoist house and fan house for the No. 3 shaft.
The Colliery was equipped with two 14 foot steam powered Jeffery fans that turned 60 RPMs at the No. 2 and 3 shafts. This provided 80,000 cubic feet of air per minute to the working faces of the mine. At this time there were 207 men employed both inside the mine and at the colliery. In the Clark vein a motor barn of concrete and brick construction was built to facilitate repairs of mine cars and mine motors without the task of hauling them to the surface. In 1918, an office building was erected. It was for use by the Superintendent, Outside Foreman and Colliery Clerk. A Mine Foreman’s office, Clerks office and Hospital were also constructed at the foot of the Rock Slope in the Clark Vein. A hospital and Mine Foreman’s office was also constructed at the foot of the No. 3 shaft in the Pittston and Rock veins. The mine served the Following veins of coal. Rock vein (108) inches, Pittston (72 inches), Marcy (81 inches), Clark (84 inches), Dunmore No. 2 (52 inches), and No. 3 Dunmore (50 inches). Coal Mined from the near-by Eddy Tunnel was taken to the Underwood Colliery for processing. This mine served the Dunmore No. 2 and 3 veins of coal and opened in 1921.
The Underwood Colliery had an interesting list of ownership. The colliery was built by the Pennsylvania Coal Co. In 1930 The Colliery was sold to the Pittston Coal Co. Who sold it back to the PCC in 1938 who operated it until its final closing in 1953. In 1954 the breaker remained closed but the Village Slope Coal Co. took over operation of the Rock Slope using it to haul coal. The breaker would remain closed but its coal bins were used as retail pockets to hold the coal for shipping. The coal was transported by rail to the Pompey, Waddell and Moosic Mountain breakers for processing. Although Village Slope Coal operated the mine the PCC still performed maintenance on it. In 1963 when the Rock Slopes relatively small veins of coal were depleted to the point where it was no longer a cost effective operation, the mine was closed forever. There was considerable strip mining by the Can S and Turnpike Coal Co. on the west end of the property in 1965 and 66. The famous 200 foot tall smoke stack from the boiler house was demolished in 1993 despite huge support from the community to save it. The concrete breaker coal pockets and foundation, boiler house, door thickener and other smaller buildings have already met this fate. Never the less considerable remains of the colliery can still be seen, although are probably soon doomed by an ever closer growing industrial park. Foundations to the supply house, office, machine shop, sand house, courthouse, garage and rock slope engine house still remains. The manway entrance and rock slope entrance are still visible also. The DL&W, Erie, Eddy Tunnel narrow gauge bed and the road that ran through the colliery can still be traced through the woods and are frequented by off roaders and hunters.
For a great read, further information on the Underwood Colliery, see the text from Coal Age Volume 9, 1916, available here.
Underwood breaker and No 1 Shaft construction, Eric Bella and UGM Collection.
More historic photos from the UGM archive.
Underground photo of Underwood miners. Photo donated to us from Mr. Ghirelli’s family. He is pictured top right in the photo.
Our photos showing the site on the surface, including the filled Rock Slope.
Railroad map showing the surface features.