Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

The Huber “Breaker”

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

We drive south on Interstate 81 with Jil and Tom to see the Huber Anthracite Breaker and the Luzcerne County fair. They lost their New York apartment on 9/11. By coincidence, we will be with them on the 5th anniversary. Tom says they have some of the old subway lines up and running though the big pit again after five years.

Tom removed 60 black bags of debris from the apartment. All the windows and the substantial window frames were blown out. I ask him what kind of debris. He says that there were three 12-foot metal pieces from the disintegrated skin of the Trade Center, lots of dust, reams of paper, pieces of drywall, computer parts and chunks of cubicles.

The authorities eventually had second thoughts about his trash removal. They were concerned that there might be body parts in the black bags. So Tom and Jil gave up and went on the road fulltime four years ago. Now they send me T-shirts from places like Sturgis, South Dakota and Seward, Alaska.

The Everhart Museum of Art and Natural History in Scranton, Pennsylvania, had three haunting paintings of old coal breakers. The scenes are dismal and dark, painted with snow on the ground and mounds of black coal and industrial trash around the huge wooden buildings.

I wanted to see an anthracite breaker. There were once hundreds of these industrial structures in the area. In 1917, over 100 million tons of anthracite were produced and 118,000 deep miners were employed. The older breakers employed scores of children as young as six to pick out pieces of rock. Only one breaker is left standing. It is the Huber breaker located 35 miles south in Ashley, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1939 and ceased operation in 1976. The “Ashley file” below discusses paranormal investigations at the Huber breaker.

The breaker building is huge and unguarded. I climb five stories up into the twisted ruins on broken metal staircases and cross cracked concrete walkways as I ascend. The building is full of conveyors, chutes, chains, electric motors, gears, pulleys and levers. I hear smashing noises coming from one abandoned building and skip that one. I take my own paranormal readings and find this place ranks as medium spooky under the blue September sky.

The engineering that went into breaking up chunks of hard coal is impressive. Here are the shots of the Huber Breaker.

A few miles further south, the Luzerne County Fair is open though this weekend in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Here. I like these a lot. They never change. Always the same food, rides, games, cooking contests, bluegrass music, llamas, cows, pigs, petting zoos, antique tractors, car smashing, magic mirrors, the freak show. I eat Italian Sausage and ice cream, go though the mirror maze, ride the rides and see the exhibits. Here is the County Fair slideshow.

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