Month: July 2014

The Mahanoy Plane, Patch Towns, and Company Scrip

mahanoy plane, patch town, patch town life, company town, coal mining, anthracite, frackville, scrip, labor This image is one of a series and in it, we see the foot of the inclined plane railroad that transported coal from the Mahanoy Plane valley up the Broad Mountain to Frackville. It opened in 1862 and it was part of the Reading Railroad system. The plane closed in 1932. Partial ruins remain in the region presently and a historical marker was placed nearby by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission in 2007. I will post the additional images of Mahanoy Plane and its Plane as a follow-up to this one. Mahanoy Plane was a company “patch town.” A patch town came about when a mining company bought the private land and thereby owned the housing, stores, and other businesses constructed around the mine. Moreover, significant features of patch towns were also in their public services. The towns tended to have few or no elected public officials; the police were employed by the mine to protect coal interests. As such, the residents were under the legal jurisdiction of the coal company from work, to the company store, to the law enforcement. The miners and miner laborers were often paid in company scrip useful only in the company store.  

“In the Dust of the Coal Breaker”


“In The Dust of the Coal Breaker” is the title of this 1907 postcard issued by the Pennsylvania Child Labor Committee in conjunction with the National Child Labor Committee. The cards were used to publicize the deplorable conditions faced by child labor. This card was No. 11 in the series, and it shows clean-faced Pennsylvania breaker boys at work.