Huber Breaker, Ashley Pennsylvania
The Huber Breaker is a massive abandoned coal processing facility in the small town of Ashley Pennsylvania. Ashley is in the Wyoming Valley or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Anthracite mining is largely responsible for the development and urbanization of the entire Wyoming Valley from Northeast of Scranton to Southwest of Wilkes-Barre. Anthracite is a hard, energy rich, high value form of coal. The anthracite mining industry in the area prospered from the early 1800s until the great depression when it began to decline. The Huber Breaker in Ashley was one of the last great coal processing facilities built in the Valley. It was constructed in 1939. The mining industry generally declined in the valley from the depression on. In the 1970s it essentially came to a complete stop. The Huber Breaker was closed in 1976. Anthracite mining in the area has recently been reviving. But the new mines are in different locations than the old and use different processing facilities. The Huber Breaker is the last surviving Breaker of it's size and from it's era. Breakers were built to clean, crush and sort coal to the specifications of end users. They were mostly built on top of underground mines as was the case with the Huber breaker. They also received and processed coal from other mines in the area.
The Huber Breaker is famous among industrial and mining history enthusiasts, photographers and urban explorers. It is one of the largest abandoned industrial structures in the United States. Efforts to preserve the Huber Breaker were dealt a possibly fatal blow this summer (2013) when the land it sits on was sold to a salvage company. Here is an article about the sale in the Citizens Voice. It would be tragic if the structure were torn down. The entire region depended on anthracite mining for the first hundred years of it's history. The Huber Breaker is the only remaining structure in the valley that would be a suitable monument to this period.
The effort to preserve the breaker was able to acquire a small plot of land on Main street in Ashley that over-looks the breaker. Huberbreaker.org is the website for that effort: The Huber Breaker Preservation Society. A memorial to anthracite miners has been built on the land with some information. There is no path leading from the memorial to the Breaker (which is on private property) but it's easy to scramble down the hillside and walk around the ruins. I visited in June 2013. Hopefully the structure wont be torn down any time soon. My understanding though is that it very likely will be.
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