0158 When Coal was King (USA 085—new)

Shamokin Travel Blog

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Episode 06: The Coal Town Tour

 Just a couple more weeks before the big move.  It looks like I’ve revisited all the memorable town within a short driving distance of Mechanicsburg.  But now I’m in “sprint mode”—I want to cram in as many towns as I can before I leave… So today I’m going straight to whatever bold type towns I seen on the map within a hundred mile radius. 

 Looking at the map of Pennsylvania I see a whole string of bold-type towns up in the hills northeast of Harrisburg in an area I would've thought would be lightly populated.  So I decide to go investigate.

I veer off I-81 into the hill country--densely forested slopes interrupted by picturesque farming villages with ladies tending to their gardens--and then immediately another densely forested ridge... It seems that here man and nature coexist in a beautiful, poetic fashion.

 And then I arrived in Shamokin, and I quickly realized why these towns are on the map:  this is coal country.  The town is snugly nestled between steep wooded hills--with an occasional mountain of coal waste dotting the horizon.  In fact, as I find out later, on of them is the biggest man-made mountain in the world!

 Shamokin--where you can be strolling down Main Street, and hiking the blackened trails in the forest the next, is my favorite of the coal mine towns.  And the people seem particularly friendly... I get a "good morning" from just about everyone I pass.  Surely, the peeling paint and tired looking row houses are a reminder that the glory days of coal mining are long gone.   The town and its people have maintained their charm.  And the fact that the town stopped growing before the concept of "urban sprawl" came along means that the town is both compact and it has a definite border--as soon as the houses end, the forest begins...

 ...OK, yeah, there is a Walmart on the other side of one of those hills, but we'll try not to think about it...

geokid says:
This is a nice town. I spent 100s of days there over a period of 10 years clean-up a very serious environmental issue.
Posted on: Oct 29, 2009
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photo by: nathanphil