Restoration of an underground mine car took a giant step forward Saturday at the Anthracite Miners’ Memorial Park in Ashley.
The mine car is one of two that will be on permanent display at the park which remains under development just east of the site of the Huber Breaker.
Don Kane, of Ashley, and three volunteers assembled the wheels and sill beams that make up the frame on a small section of track, 36 inches wide, to mimic the rails in an underground mine. Kane said he hopes that within a few weeks, the steel car frame can be lifted onto the wheel assembly. The wood sideboards will then be installed.
The Huber Breaker Preservation Society created the park on former Huber Colliery property donated by Earth Conservancy. Efforts to save the breaker failed but segments of coal mining and railroad history are on display at the park. Kane rebuilt a switchman’s shanty once used in the Central Railroad of New Jersey yard near the breaker and a trackside signal was moved from the former Main Street crossing to the park.
Kane stripped old planking from the mine car and he disassembled and cleaned every metal component. New sideboard planks were cut by Balliet Lumber & Timber in Wapwallopen.
The society believes the car was once used at the Franklin Colliery, Wilkes-Barre Twp. Kane said the mine car was built by American Car & Foundry in Berwick. The date of manufacture is not known but the society has an 1896 blueprint showing such cars.
St. Leo’s/Holy Rosary Church, Manhattan Street, Ashley, made space available in a garage last winter to allow restoration work to begin. The second mine car is being restored by students at Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technology Center.
Joining Kane on Saturday were his son Mark, of Ashley; Nick Dubinski of Mountain Top, and Matt Stegura of South Abington Twp.
The mine cars were donated by Paselo Logistics, Philadelphia, the company that purchased and razed the breaker. The mine cars once were towed underground, first by mules and later small engines. The loaded cars were hauled from the mine up a slope via cable and then lowered down an incline into a rotary dump, a device that would tip the cars to empty the coal onto a conveyor that took it to the breaker for processing.
Mining history also is recalled with a rebuilt powder house that once held dynamite used to blast coal seams. The colliery sign from the main entrance to the Huber complex was saved. The centerpiece of the park is the memorial to coal miners. A state historical marker was dedicated outside the park on Labor Day 2017.
The society accepts donations to allow park development. Donations can be made to the Huber Breaker Preservation Society at Corner Post Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 1172, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18703.