Ashland lies in the anthracite coal region of eastern Pennsylvania. Although the area abounds in mines, in the early sixties, not one was open to the general public. So, on Labor Day Weekend 1962, Pioneer Tunnel, which ceased operation in 1931, was retimbered and reopened as a place where visitors could experience a real anthracite coal mine. The Tunnel affords visitors an opportunity to learn how anthracite coal is mined. It shows how a vein of coal lies between rock and strata: it has a gangway, manways and chutes. Part of the Tunnel is timbered, and part lies in solid rock and requires no timbering. Some of our guides are experienced miners who know how to mine thoroughly. Visitors ride into the Tunnel on mine cars rebuilt to carry passengers and powered by an electric mine motor. Deep inside the tunnel, guests will exit from the cars to follow their guides as they give an explanation of deep-mining methods.
Our other featured attraction is a narrow gauge steam train ride aboard the "lokie" Henry Clay. "Lokie" is a colloquial term for a small locomotive. Henry Clay is a steam saddle tank engine of 30 tons used years ago to haul coal cars. Now it pulls passenger mine cars almost a mile along the side of Mahanoy Mountain.
Pioneer Tunnel is owned and operated by Ashland Community Enterprises,
a non-profit 501(C)(3) corporation established in 1962, as a tourist attraction dedicated to continuing to promote, and preserve the history, and heritage of anthracite coal mining industry.
Ashland Community Enterprises is operated by an unpaid, volunteer board of directors.
We hope to see you soon at Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train!!