The Pennsylvania anthracite coal region is an area of the state that is rich in history, fueled our nation’s industrial revolution, and it fascinates me to no end. The region is filled with countless coal towns, many of which are still dominated by the now scaled-back mining industry. A few of these small towns and cities are still holding on strong, while others’ futures look somewhat bleak. On October 16th, 2014, I set out on a 150+ mile road trip, photographing these towns, and the scenery surrounding them.
The route took me from my home in Williamsport to Jim Thorpe. Even though I left before sunrise, I still ran out of daylight before I was able to photograph every city on my list. The towns and cities of Hazleton, Palmerton, Lehighton, and Shenandoah will see another day, along with Eckley Miner’s Village, a preserved mining camp that is now a historic attraction.
I have toured a few towns along this route many times before. The infamous ghost town Centralia, Pennsylvania is along the route, and I have toured and photographed the area five or six times since 2007. Also, in February of this year, I got some photos of the St. Nicholas Coal Breaker in Mahanoy City, PA. Sadly, this hulking historic structure is slowly being demolished. I’m glad I got photos when I did.
I rented Canon’s 24-105 f/4 L zoom lens and that was probably the best decision I could have made. I managed to plan this day during peak foliage. Peak foliage in Pennsylvania’s Applications provides some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Couple that with the perfect weather, and the day couldn’t have been any better. Such a great road trip.