Old Coal Breaker in Schuylkill County Coming Down

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MAHANOY TOWNSHIP --  An old coal breaker, the last one of its kind in Pennsylvania, is coming down.

The St. Nicholas Breaker has not been used since the 60s. Now, it's owner is slowly dismantling it. The process that is expected to take months.

Since this is the last big breaker standing in the state, people from all over are coming to see it.

Gene Perkins is a third generation miner from Schuylkill County. He now works as a security guard at the last of the large, historic breakers standing in Pennsylvania.

"When you look at this what do you see? A lot of blood, sweat and tears," said Perkins.

When it opened in 1931, the St. Nicholas Breaker outside Mahanoy City was an automated marvel. It was said to be the largest of it's kind in the world.

"It is a marker to the past because it shows how important this area was, not just to the industrial revolution but the the development of the nation as a whole," said Tom Loftus of Pioneer Tunnel.

The St. Nicholas Breaker closed in the 60's and now its owner, the Reading Anthracite Company is taking it down. Even in its final days, the behemoth is attracting plenty of attention.

One couple, the Edwards' from Maryland, say they had to see the breaker before it was too late.

"It is amazing. I wish I could come back 40 years ago, when it was in operation, just to see it and hear it," said Richard Edwards.

The security guard adds since the breaker started making headlines again, the visitors keep coming and some of them don't follow the rules.

Perkins said, "We have people, sneak behind the fence and stuff, and they are not supposed to. It is posted, 'no trespassing.' We just wish people would respect that."

Perkins says he understands why people want to see history. However, he asks if you visit to stay safe and don't break the rules.

A manager at the facility says work started last fall and was scheduled to take a year.

However, there is still a lot left to do, so the demolition may take longer.

So, there is time to see this history for yourself.


  • ME2

    It’s sad that someone along the way, didn’t at least preserve a piece of this for posterity. Kind of like Bethlehem Steel did with its stacks. Now this will be gone forever, with future generations unable to see the real thing.

  • Skook Puke

    What fence?

    Then the coal bridge/chute going across the road into Shenandoah reads “Coal keeps the lights on”
    it should also say “For the prisoners”

    And just down the road from this, what is in the tanker cars? What kind of toxic pollution are they dumping in the ground in that area? Someone needs to investigate this before we have another cancer pocket in PA

    I find it funny how the Schuylkill County Blight fund has been created, but will never be used against someone like Reading Anthracite, they have abandoned garbage all over the county. Already people are being fined for blight, an amount more than the property tax they pay.

    Get ready for eminent domain, kiss your property goodbye, unless you can buy it back through fines.

    Municipalities can prepare residents and elected officials to approve a small tax increase or dedicate fees, fines, or penalties to a blight fund by documenting the costs that the municipalities incur from the presence of blighted properties, as well as the costs that surrounding homeowners incur, such as depressed property values and reduced quality of life. To promote transparency and accountability, municipalities will want to report to the public on how the blight funds are used.

    Of course any new tax created now a days, is being used to fund the pensions of your local municipalities/local elected officials, they even have their hands in our tax returns.

    So the next time you hit a pot hole, think of it as .50 cents to someone’s pension fund through the gas tax. ca ching

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