Pioneer Coal Mine Tunnel

Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine

Useful Information

Location: Ashland.
From I-80 take I-81 to exit 36 West (Frackville), then take PA Route 61 North to Ashland. From I-78 take PA Rt. 61 N. to Ashland.
Open: APR daily 11, 12:30, 14.
MAY Mon-Fri 11, 12:30, 14, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-17:30 (last tour).
Memorial Day to Labor Day daily 10-17:30 (last tour). SEP to OCT Mon-Fri 11, 12:30, 14, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-17:30 (last tour).
Closed Easter Weekend. [2006]
Fee: Adults USD 8, Children (2-11) USD 5.50.
School Groups: grades 1-6 USD 4.25, grades 7-college USD 5.75.
Classification: MineCoal Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: L=550 m, D=35 min.
Address: Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine, 19th & Oak Sts., Ashland, PA 17921, Tel: +1-570-875-3850, Fax: +1-570-875-3301.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update: $ Date: 2006/05/02 21:55:03 $


~1800 mine discovered when a campfire ignited an outcropping of hard coal.
1911 Pioneer operated by the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company.
1931 mine closed.
1962 reopened as a tourist mine.
26-AUG-2012 50th anniversary of tourist mine.


Pioneer Tunnel is entered riding a genuine mining car pulled by an electric mine motor, which was altered to carry passengers. After 550 m the train reaches an underground train station, where the main tour starts. The guides are former coal miners, who are able to explain the historic coal mining as well as the modern mining techniques.

Mining at Mahanoy Mountain started with open cast mining or strip mining in the early 19th century. Soon the mines went underground to follow the slope and pitch of the coal veins. The landscape of Schuylkill County and Northeastern Pennsylvania was dotted with mining operations. One of them was the Pioneer Colliery, which finally constructed the adit and was eponymous. Pioneer Coal Mine produced antracite, a very high grade coal which is almost pure carbon. It is rather rare and was needed for certain processes in industry. It was also called the "black diamond".

Pioneer Tunnel was built as an drainage tunnel or adit. This was necessary as the high ground water level filled the first open cast mines after only 10 to 15 m. But when a tunnel was built from below, from a ravine or the foot of a hill straight into the mountain, the tunnel served not only as access to the mine but also drained the water downhill.

Another sight of the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine is the Mammoth Stripping. In this opencast mine the Mammoth vein, the most productive coal layer was mined with monstrous steam-driven shovels. This remains as a 50 m high man-carved wall of solid rock. This place is reached by train, the narrow-gauge railroad Henry Clay. It is a 30-minute ride around the side of Mahanoy Mountain in brightly colored mine cars with a red caboose and pulled by a steam locomotive.