Mine Shaft Opens At Site Of 1963 Coaldale Cave-in
January 19, 1988|by WALTER KRAUS, The Morning Call
An 85-foot mine air shaft opened over the weekend on Coaldale's E. Moser Avenue, the site of a 1963 subsidence that resulted in 22 structures being razed.
Police Chief John Tonkin said yesterday that the borough's fire company plumbed the shaft by dropping a light on a rope. "The light stopped at 85 feet, and the beam of the light was shining east, where you could see another roll-off. We have no idea how deep that is."
Tonkin said the air shaft goes down to one of the old mine gangways. He said the subsidence should not spread and affect any of the nearby homes. He said the approximately 8-foot opening is "the size of the shaft exactly, according to the old-timers that were up there. The only danger is whether somebody could fall in." The area has been roped off.
Tonkin said the cave-in borders the Panther Valley Division of Bethlehem Mines "and it just comes into the back two yards there." The hole is at the rear of the property owned by James Telepchak of 254 E. High St., and cuts under a fence dividing the lot from an adjoining property owned by John Krynock of 249 E. Moser Ave.
A representative of Bethlehem Mines said an attempt yesterday to notify the Deep Mine Safety section of the Department of Environmental Resources was unsuccessful because of the Martin Luther King holiday. He said the Pottsville office will be contacted today.
Moser Avenue and Lehigh Street, parallel east-west streets intersected by 3rd Street, were involved in the Lehigh Street Renewal Program conducted by the Schuylkill County Redevelopment Authority after an April 17, 1963, mine cave-in resulted in 22 homes being razed.
The Lehigh Street site was shored up by combining water and silt and pumping the two into holes drilled for the purpose in "Operation Scarlift," a $250,000 project conducted in 1968. The 22 affected families lived in the block from 12 to 46 years.
Janet Telepchak said she and her husband were notified about the subsidence around 11 a.m. Sunday, by a neighbor, Joseph Kalis of 246 E. Moser Avenue. Kalis' home is part of a frame four-unit dwelling at the dead end of E. Moser Avenue. Other occupants include Mary Zelnick of 247 E. Moser and Mr. and Mrs. John Krynock, who converted two of the units into one at 249 E. Moser Ave.
Krynock, who lives closest to the air shaft, said dogs "began barking like crazy several days ago." He said he thought the dogs were barking at children and checked but did not see anybody.
He said he was taking his 14-year-old grandson to his Lansford home Sunday morning and noticed steam rising from the Telepchak lot. Thinking the steam might be caused by leaves, he checked and discovered the shaft opening. He then notified Kalis who informed Telepchak.
Tonkin said police were notified about 1 p.m. Sunday.
Mrs. Zelnick, a resident of the street for 48 years, said two other subsidences occurred in the area previously. She said the current hole "was a small shaft going into the mine, and I guess the timbers keep rotting. A long time ago, the miners used to come out there - I think some of the miners used to sneak out before it was time."
Kalis said the opening is an air shaft, part of the former No. 9 Mine. Kalis said he used the Telepchak yard Saturday night to deliver papers, "so it must have happened after that."
Kalis said the job of refilling the void would be "about an hour's work for a loader, that's all. He'll take 20 ton at a time in one of those big loaders, and he'll fill it up in an hour's time. I'm living here 58 years, and this is the third time it's happened, and I'm not worrying about it."