Coaldale builds park to remember miners

Continuing work aims to beautify borough, give historical insight.

November 27, 2003|By Sarah Fulton Special to The Morning Call - Freelance

Years ago about 2,000 people toiled beneath Coaldale, extracting the mineral that gave the town its name.

Today Coaldale is building a park that memorializes the community's coal mining history.

Coaldale Miners Memorial Park along Route 209 has been excavated, grass seed and trees have been planted, and mining memorabilia has been placed on the site. The park also serves as a viewing area of the now closed No. 8 mine tunnel, wash shanty and dynamite bunker, owned by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co.

State Rep. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, who obtained a $10,000 grant for Coaldale, was at the site Wednesday to see the progress. Only a portion of the grant is used for the park. So far the borough has spent about $3,700 on the park.

Argall said it is hard to imagine that thousands of workers used to crack coal underneath the mountain behind the park. "Looking at it today, I guess it's kind of difficult to process," he said.

One lump of coal and two sulfur balls -- formed from underground mine fires -- were moved to the park earlier in the week.

Council hopes to place an old coal cart or gazebo in the center of the park and eventually add benches, plant flowers and place bushes around the perimeter.

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, the state agency that is administering the grant, will later provide the borough with another $1,800 matching grant to place signs in the park detailing the history of the 1845 coal industry buildings that are visible from the site.

"We hope visitors to this park will learn more about the rich mining history of Coaldale," said Dale Freudenberger, Market Towns manager for the Heritage Corridor.

Councilwoman Anne Girard said she hopes the park will catch the attention of those who pass through the borough on Route 209.

"If they see something inviting here they might want to explore," she said. "I think the miners that worked here would be very proud."

Council members and volunteers will continue clearing brush at 9 a.m. Saturday so park visitors can have a clear view of the historical buildings.