The No. 9 Mine and Museum is located in Lansford, Pennsylvania, at the foot of the Pocono Mountains. The mine offers tours of the original anthracite mine May through October, and the accompanying museum is open all year round. Guests on the mine tours ride by rail over 1,600 feet into the interior of the mine, then take a walking tour of one of America’s oldest deep coal mines.
While on the underground tour, visitors see the underground mine hospital, cut from stone, dating back to 1858. Also on the tour, guests see the underground mule way, along which mules were used to pull the coal carts in the mines. The mine has some 500 mine shafts, among them the original Number 9 elevator shaft, a feature of the mine tour and the entrance into the mountain. The museum is located in the mine’s old “Wash Shanty,” a structure built in 1923 to improve conditions at the mine by providing miners with a place to wash and take a shower at the end of their shift. Museum tours showcase over 2,000 artifacts from the mine, including original mine equipment and tools. Picks, axes, shovels, and blasting equipment are preserved alongside the lunch boxes, headlamps, and caps of the miners. Displays use photographs, paintings, and models to demonstrate mine life to visitors. Life-sized models of mules are shown pulling coal carts, and the exhibit includes an original model of a coal colliery operation that was once on display at the World’s Fair in New York. Visitors should be advised that since the mine tour is underground, it is a dark and cool 60°F. Coats are provided although guests may wish to bring their own.
History: The No. 9 Mine opened in 1855, and at one point up to 450 workers mined the deep anthracite coal mine. It was the world’s oldest operating deep coal mine when it finally closed in 1972. Today’s museum is housed in the old “Wash Shanty,” built in 1923 and abandoned when the last of Panther Valley’s deep coal mines were shut down. The museum was founded by the Panther Creek Valley Foundation as a tribute to those who gave most of their lives to the mine as well as those who lost their lives due to the once difficult and dangerous work. The Panther Creek Valley Foundation is a non-profit organization comprising members of the Lansford mining community. The foundation holds meetings at the museum on the first Wednesday of each month.
Coal was the primary industry in this area of Pennsylvania as far back as 1814. At the height of the mining industry in the 1930s, the town of Lansford had a population of close to 10,000, compared to less than 4,000 as of the year 2000 census. The conception of the No. 9 Mine can be traced back to approximately 1844 when it was decided, in response to the flooding of the original coal quarry, to drive a tunnel into the large Mammoth Vein on the south side of the Panther Valley. It took over 5 years and several attempts, stops, and starts to finally reach the vein of coal over 2,000 feet into the mine. The first mining contract for this large “No. 9 Tunnel” was in 1858 for over 90,000 tons of coal per year. It is this tunnel through which visitors enter to experience the mine today.
Ongoing Programs & Education: Guided tours of the mine allow visitors to experience what it was like to work as a coal miner just 50 years ago, and more. Tours are offered daily. Large groups are encouraged to call in advance to reserve. The mine holds an annual Memorial Day and Labor Day picnic each year to mark the beginning and end of the mine tour season. Mines were traditionally closed in winter, even when operating.
What’s Nearby: Travelers to the No. 9 Mine and Museum in Lansford, Pennsylvania, would be interested in other nearby attractions, including the Eckley Miner’s Village Museum. This village was established in 1854, at the same time as the No. 9 Mine, as a company-owned mining town. The village operates today as a museum and explores the lives of immigrant miners at the height of the coal mining industry in the early 1900s. The museum was used in Paramount Studio’s 1970 film The Molly Maguires starring Sean Connery, based on a partly true story about Irish immigrant coal miners.
9 Dock Street, Lansford, PA 18232, website, Phone: 570-645-7074
Back to: Poconos, PA