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St. Nicholas Breaker

The St. Nicholas Breaker, located just out side of Mahanoy City, was constructed in 1931 and began operating in 1932. Half of the village of Suffolk was relocated in order to create room for the largest coal breaker in the world. 20 miles of railroad track were laid, 3,800 tons of steel and more than 10,000 cubic yards of concrete were used. A mile and a half of conveyor lines, 25 miles of conduit, 26,241 square feet of rubber belting, 118 miles of wire and cable and 20 miles of pipe were installed. When they constructed the breaker, they split it into two sides and each side could be operated independently, producing 12,500 tons of coal a day. The coal, once dumped, took just 12 minutes to pass through the entire breaker.

We knew there were still a few more breakers out there other than the Huber. Rather than drive around aimlessly looking for these relics, Chris decided that he could cover more ground flying aimlessly for hours around northeastern/central PA. He finally spotted a breaker, the only problem was he didn't have a clue how to get there. Fortunatly, it was fairly close to I81, so he started counting the exits back to Hazleton. Realizing he was wasting his time, he swooped the airplane down close enough to give motorists a heart attack, and read the exit sign: Mahanoy City Exit 131B. Of course we (Chris and Carissa) had to take a trip down there the next day. We were both impressed by the structural integrity of this breaker. It is in far better shape than the Huber breaker. The St. Nicholas is a fine example of a concrete breaker. Walking around to the back of the building, we stumbled upon a loosely filled in opening to the mine. Chris attempted to burrow into the hole with his bare hands. This, of course, did not work. On a future trip we will be sure to bring along shovels, which will assist us in gaining access. Venturing inside we found that vandalism to this building is virtually non-existant and many neat artifacts still remain. There is a stockroom filled with parts that were used to repair the breaker. Numerous offices still contain original records and manuals. The latest date that we found was 1976, excluding the phone book from 1999. The untouched lathe and drillpress as well as many other tools used in the breaker's working days reside peacefully in the machine shop. The St. Nicholas has more interesting finds and is in better condition than the shabby, vandalized Huber. If a person wanted to see a breaker firsthand, we would definitely recommend checking this one out.

- Carissa Kiehart


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