St. Nicholas Coal Breaker

Being a coal region girl, this adventure felt like home. 

Born and raised in the coal region and my grand father being a coal miner,  the terminology and sites weren’t completely foreign to me. 

So, if you’re wondering what a coal breaker is, it’s a coal processing plant and it breaks coal down into several different sizes. It also cleans the coal and removes any impurities. 

The St. Nicholas Breaker has been abandoned for 51 years and is now owned by the Reading Anthracite Coal Company and its set to be demolished, or at least taken down slowly. 

The Breaker began operations in 1932 and at the time was one of the two largest coal breakers in the world. It produced over 12,500 tons of coal a day and with all of the new rail tracks laid just for the Breaker, it took up a total of 10 square miles. 

It’s hard to imagine this was operational at one point, but what’s even harder to believe is this Breaker really hasn’t been vandalized over the last 51 years. Most of the abandoned sites we visit are usually home to graffiti and litter but this, in comparison, and given the fact it’s a coal Breaker, was relatively clean and in tact. 

Although most areas or machines I wasn’t quite sure what they were or what they did,  we were certain we found a few offices, wash room and locker room. 

Several pieces of equipment and machinery still seemed to be in relatively good condition. We kept imagining, what if we turn this switch and the whole plant starts running again? 

Should you visit the Breaker? Yes. Here’s why:

  • Pennsylvania has a rich history of coal mining, so if you’re from here or not it’s worth it alone for the history lesson.
  • The structure and how over time it’s still standing. 
  • The equipment.
  • It’s set to be demolished so you’re running out of time! 

We ventured here on a Saturday so I imagine the operating coal companies near by don’t work or have fewer employees on site. 

Some tips if you plan to visit: 

  • After some research, there is supposedly security who patrols but it also sounds as if they are understanding to explorers given this places history and the fact it is one of thee last breakers still standing. 
  • Watch your step! Some of the grates and stairs are loose and there aren’t many walls closing you in. 
  • Be respectful. 

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