Large Scale Central

Susquehanna Coal Company, Breaker No. 6

I came across this photograph of one of Susquehanna Coal Companies coal breakers. Shows the whole operation from the slope from the mines, to the breaker and sorting, the trestle going off to the right for slate and waste, and the five coal tracks below.

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There’s a slightly smaller example that was used on the East Broad Top. They installed a Chance Coal Cleaning and sorting plant, which fed 5 tracks of std gauge PRR hoppers underneath the plant. Incoming run-of-mine coal came down the mountain in the EBT steel hopper cars.

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So is the raw coal coming into the plant from the left and being processed “up hill” and the waste coming out on the right side?

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Yes, the incline on the left goes down the slope to the levels of the mine, and coal would come up in 1 or 2 ton cars, and get dumped into the breaker for crushing, sorting and cleaning. The waste would go out the top right on the trestle to the waste dump. The waste percentage can be as high as 20% in the older mining techniques, when men were paid by the cart load, they were less inclined to sort the refuse out underground. Modern mining techniques and equipment minimize waste.

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That is really interesting. It is opposite to the silver mill/concentrators of my region. Ore was dropped in the top and crushed and sorted and the final products came out the bottom along with the tailings. Interesting.

But the waste is still produced as they mine, do they then have a waste pile area in the mine

Well that is a good point David,

Regardless of whether the rock they are mining has coal or is just rock it all needs to be move/removed from the mine. I wouldn’t think it possible or prudent to sort it underground. At least in the hard rock mining of my area its all removed and piled.

Interstate 81 in PA has “a lot” of mining or mining history to offer.

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I hate this thread. It has me going down a rabbit hole. I am intrigued by how this plant would have operated. What happens to coal from mine to finished product?

Trying to compare it to the processing of galena ore doesn’t equate. Breaking,sorting, separating silver from its parent rock is a vertical process where raw ore is dumped in the top broken smashed refined and the waste tailings and ore come out the bottom.

This coal plant seems to be bass ackwards in that raw material enters the bottom and waste exits the top. Thats working against gravity. So I am really interested in what they are doing inside that building

At least in the Wyoming Valley, the coal is under the bottom of the valley floor, so the coal came up a conveyor or in ore cars, to the top of the breaker. Pickers would remove the slate from the coal first, then the coal is crushed, and then sorted using shaker screens into the different sized coal for different markets. The slate waste, being removed first, exits the top of the building, either by a rail line, or an overhead tram, over to the waste piles. Other slate found in the breaking/sorting process would also be removed further down the process.

EDIT: adding image

I knew I had this bookmarked somewhere. Just not on the work computer.
Note that they are alphabetically listed and there are 3 other pages at the top.
Have fun rabbit holing !!!


Same with the EBT Coal “washer”. The run-of-mine stuff was dumped in a pit at the side of the building and carried to the top on a conveyor. There’s an article in the TT showing the operation just like that drawing of yours!

BTW …that was a hint

Okay that makes way more sense to me. So it is still gravity fed from top to bottom. They just use a conveyor to get it there and the process starts.